By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald staff writer
It’s been about a month and a half since Kristina Anapau lost her mother to cancer, and she finds herself being hit by her absence during even the most trivial moments of her days, in between the hustle and bustle of an active Hollywood lifestyle.
“We used to talk on the phone, almost every day … at least several times a week,” she said. “So, I’ll be driving to ballet class, and it will feel … something’s missing. I want to talk with her. She was the one who encouraged me in ballet at a young age, and I just want to have her to share that with.”
The 72-year-old Pepeekeo resident Gloria Kaiser-Roper’s diagnosis six months ago with stage four colon cancer was a huge shock and something that no one should have to go through, says Anapau, a Hilo native and actress in films like “Black Swan” and the HBO series “True Blood.”
When her mom died on Jan. 15, the Los Angeles resident says that she lost her biggest fan and booster.
“She really encouraged me creatively. … She’s been very proud to see my success. I was happy that she was alive to see the success I’ve had, and I hope to continue that success with her looking down on me,” she said.
Anapau, 33, is visiting East Hawaii from L.A. this weekend to help her father, Rick, celebrate his 65th birthday. In an interview with the Tribune-Herald on Saturday, she talked about the loss of her mother, her efforts to raise money for cancer research, and about living and working in Hollywood.
Currently, she is working to spread the word about a contest hosted by Modern Luxury Hawaii, which pits four Hawaii celebrities in competition in Verizon’s “4G For Hope” campaign. It’s an opportunity for her to use what pop-culture influence and celebrity she’s gained to leave a lasting, positive impact on society, she said.
“I want to use celebrity the way it was meant to be used. It should be working for the force of good,” she said.
Anapau, musician Jake Shimabukuro, artist Heather Brown, and surfer Jamie O’Brien have each been provided with Verizon 4G LTE tablet computers and are taking to the Internet and social networks in an attempt to win a grand prize of $10,000 for their favorite charity.
Anapau says she has chosen Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) to memorialize her mother, and to help find a cure for cancer and prevent further suffering for countless families like her own.
“They foster a collaborative approach rather than a competitive environment for cancer research,” she said of the nonprofit, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
“I really think that the high level of competitiveness among scientists is one of the reasons for not having a cure for cancer. Stand Up To Cancer works to bring dream teams of scientists together, to merge their knowledge to get therapies to patients that need them,” she said.
But competition is the name of the game when it comes to fundraising. While the remaining three celebs will each receive $4,000 for their charities, Anapau’s competitive nature is on full display as she talks about her plans to claim the grand prize. It’s the same strong will that allowed her to graduate from high school at 15 and attend the University of Hawaii at Hilo before moving to L.A. to pursue an acting career at 17.
“Not to diminish any of the charities my competitors are helping, but I’m going to win,” she said. With a laugh she recounts having given her father a tongue lashing after finding in his home a magazine featuring Shimabukuro on the cover.
“You’re supposed to be on my side!” she said with the same impish grin she wears as Maurella, the mysterious and take-charge fairy who has endeared herself to legions of “True Blood” fanatics.
The four celebs are facing off in the social media arena, urging fans to vote for them while documenting how they use their tablets in their everyday lives. Fans may visit 4G4Hope.modernluxury.com to watch the celebrities compete, and then vote for the most worthy candidate. The winner will be announced at a party in early April, and the $10,000 will be awarded to the winner’s charity of choice.
On the acting front, Anapau says the last year has been a busy one, with more and more fans recognizing her from her popular turn on “True Blood,” and she’s got several other projects in the works. She’ll star in two new films to be released in 2013, including the paranormal thriller “Sighting,” and action picture “BlackJacks.”
She’s been sworn to secrecy when it comes to the new season of “True Blood,” which is expected to begin airing in June, but Anapau says there’s plenty of material left to mine, especially after her character gave birth to a human/fairy hybrid in the season 5 finale of the supernatural drama, which features vampires, werewolves, and all manner of creatures that go bump in the night.
“The writers left my character with a lot of loose ends to tie up,” she said. “It was wonderful. It’s by far the best show I’ve ever worked on, mainly because of the family aspect. With a cast and crew that is such a wonderful family to be a part of, it makes coming to work every day such a great time.”
Anapau has also caught the writing bug, contributing a number of editorials to various magazines, and is considering pursuing a masters degree in creative writing at the University of Oxford in England. She hopes to pair writing with her love for drama to work on her own scripts for stage and screen.
And, while she’s in the U.K., she wouldn’t mind making an appearance on the hit BBC program “Downton Abbey.”
“I love that show. I’d love to do some period work,” she said. “The mother is American, there could be some American cousins that come visit or something. If not, I can do a great British accent.”
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.