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10.17.04

HEAR THE MANAO

Leah Tunkara

Leah Tunkara

ABOUT LEAH TUNKARA

LEAH

MY GRANDMA

INFANT THOUGHTS

WHAT IS AN ARTIST

FACES AND PHASES

COLORFUL POET

VENTING

THE WINDS OF YOUR WILL

WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE

DO YOU HAVE EYES TO SEE WITH

HOLLYWOOD ROMANCE

WHO'S WORLD

I AND I

LIFE

YOUNG LOVERS

A TIME

BREASTS ARE FOR FEEDING BABIES

400 YEARS

SUPERMAN

MAUI

HEALING HANDS

LETS DANCE

ONLY ONE WAY TO DIE

HAWAII

BORED

RED ROSE

Leah is looking for a few good poets among the youth of Maui...but more about that later.
“Right now I feel really good in life”, says Leah, “I feel that I’ve done enough so that I know myself and feel relaxed with that...but when I was younger I was quite vain and wanted to be rich and famous and all that. What I thought I wanted was actually an illusion. Now I’m more content to be happy with the moment and live like that. When I get old, I don’t want to just have three good stories to tell over and over!”
Born in Manhattan and raised in San Francisco, Leah has lived on Maui for nearly a decade. As a 14 year old, she was one of the youngest people to obtain a wholesale licence in California, and as a solo teen, began her extensive travel of the world. Her parents met as honor students and nearly put her up for adoption so they could focus on school. But partly because black kids weren’t getting adopted, they kept her.
Her younger brother has autism and did not speak as a child, although he did have temper tantrums. Leah became his voice, expressing his thoughts and feelings that others could not understand. One of her recent films that can be seen on Akaku TV, “Oh Yes I Can”, documents the relationship. Although shy as a kid, Leah developed an “I don’t care what other people think” kind of attitude, partly because her brother would often do “outrageous “ things in public.
“When my Father became a hippie, I couldn’t afford to care about that either. I never was ashamed of those things and almost proud of my family’s differences. That has really helped me do my thing and I constantly define who I am for myself.” Her other younger brother became the youngest assistant trader on Wall Street.
In Hollywood, Leah worked on films with Clint Eastwood, Bet Mitler, and Eddie Murphy, people she admired as a kid, and appeared in Magnum P.I., Cheers, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a host of commercials. She was the first African-American model on the cover of Waikiki Beach Press in 1980. Having founded Leilani Films in 1995, her independent film series “Walk-A-Bout With Leah” can be seen anytime by internet request on Maui’s AKAKU TV. She also instructed MCC students based upon her book “Lets Do Hollywood”, a guide for aspiring actors, writers and film makers on succeeding in Hollywood.
“Dianne Carol asked me one time: ‘What did you think of my scene?’”, Leah recalls with a big laugh. “At that point I realized that no mater how good you are you can’t be so sure, you need feedback and confirmation... but it was a big honor to be asked.”
Recommended by Maya Angelou’s niece, Leah went around the world with the “High Priestess of Soul”, Nina Simone as her personal assistant during the year of her big come-back. “She carried the aura of Diva”, says Leah, “but she was a very feeling person who asked me to take care of her like a child, getting her dressed and ready to go on stage. She was wild but grand! I loved her.”
Leah began her career at 18 as a show girl dancing with big bands in Honolulu. “I was probably the only black girl there entertaining the Japanese men, but I loved it.”
After 15 years though, it was time to quit and she put all her energies into her daughter, coming to Maui specifically to give birth. Not surprisingly, her daughter, Chaka Ra, was among those chosen to represent Hawaii in the Miss Teen All America Pageant of 2002, and was chosen for The People To People Student Ambassador Program chaired by George Bush.
But Leah is much more than a film maker, award-winning poet, photographer, editor, dance instructor, world class traveler, model, and
proud mother. She is a spiritual philosopher.
“The Meaning of life”, says Leah, “ is what you make it; it’s a matter of perspective.” She continues with a poem:
“The Great Spirit has blown air into your lungs so that you can live. You have a right to live just like anyone who has lived before you or anyone who lives now. Weather you’re rich or poor, healthy or sick, you’re responsible for everything that happens to you. The one who passes the blame can’t get control over anything. You have to say, ‘I’m responsible for what happens to me.’ Once you accept that with a positive outlook, you can create a better result.
With the winds of your will you must learn to steer. With spiritual insight you can obtain true wealth. With the winds of your will you must learn to steer. In life you surely live as long as you can breath. It makes you feel more alive than others. You lay in a spectrum between life and death for as long as you live. All of life is a struggle. Is it a struggle to maintain a quality of life? Pay attention my fathers, my mothers, it is life within. Of course it can be without you and you can be among the walking dead. As long as you got breath, you got opportunity to struggle.
Seize hope with every breath you take. You’ll never be perfect, you’ll never be done, ‘till you’re service to humanity has won. Be a winner. Pay attention to the light that dwells within you. The Great Spirit has blown air into YOUR lungs so that YOU can live. Live life knowing a few things. Live life knowing that you’re capable of murder. Live life knowing that you’re also capable of saving lives. To some degree you’re capable of doing whatever you can imagine. The wind of my will is strong. With a love for peace I shall become more wealthy. I shall seek to become the greatest life within me, and then without me.”
When asked of her main passions in life, Leah’s eyes light up, and she says: “My passions are making love, making movies, and being a family person. I love people, all types of people, I love culture. I love to dance, I love to party. I love sound...music, waves, birds. And I like to get over my fears. Right now I’ve got a big passion for poetry and writing.” Leah also finds inspiration from Hawaiian chants: “Even though I don’t understand the words...they make me cry”. She admires the Kahuna philosophy of “Do no harm”. Leah feels that it’s not what she’s doing, it’s how she’s doing it that brings her the mastery of creativity she has, such as in raising her daughter. “I put my whole creativeness into it” she says.
Leah is presently working on a one woman show focused on poetry, as well as a book of poems called “From the Waters of Maui”. However, her main ambition right now is starting a poetry group, The 808 Poets that will evolve into a touring stage show and film. There will be a DJ aspect to the show entwining the spoken word performances of poets with Hawaiiana visuals along with live video of the poets performing. It’s a multi media thing she learned about in Europe combined with the “spectacular grace” of the Honolulu shows she was in.
“I’m interested in young, passionate voices from for the Hawaiian poetry group... visionary, new age, and pensive people who know how to deliver. They might come from the rap scene into this more intimate media. It will expresses the pride of the survivor saying ‘This is who I really am, and this is what my skeleton looks like, but I’m still standing’ kind of vibe... rhythmatic, outrageously interesting and healing. Sometimes you have to go a bit crazy and push yourself to the outer limits of your imagination to get to the real nectar of life.”
It’s a poetry group, with Leah’s guidance, where it will be secure to be “out there” on the creative edge. Those interested are encouraged to call Leah at 1-800-509-2488 for more information.
With typical candor Leah notes that “I’m not just an artist. I’m someone who thinks about marketing. Why can’t it be doubly good? That’s the way I see it! Maybe there are those times when creativity takes you to a deserted island and you lay there naked as a self indulgent healing process, but when I bring out something to share, I want everybody to be glad to pay for it.”
Hearing the manao of this delightful person was an inspiring pleasure. She is the poetic process!


1998 ©  Leah AnnalamahTunkara

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