The Arts News

Actor Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau '02 attributes success to Mid-Pacific School of the Arts

Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau stars in the lead role in "American Violence" opening in theaters for limited release, February 3

Posted on January 27, 2017 by Julie Funasaki Yuen

Actor Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau '02 recently spoke with Chris Vandercook, host of Hawaii Public Radio's "The Conversation" about his lead role in the upcoming thriller "American Violence" co-starring Bruce Dern and Denise Richards. In this chilling story, Lyman-Mersereau plays death row inmate Jackson Shea opposite Amanda Tyler (Richards), a world-renowned psychologist who is determined to find the root causes of violent behavior.

When asked about how he prepared for the role of playing a convicted killer, the Mid-Pacific School of the Arts graduate said, "Unfortunately, I didn't have the prep time that I wanted. I got the script on a Tuesday afternoon and we started filming Wednesday morning. But I was very lucky that the director, Timothy Woodward, Jr., he had a very clear vision on the character. And after those first couple weeks of going through the easier stuff, we really found our rhythm and then once we moved into the dark side of the character, it was much easier and we had developed 'Jackson Shea.'"

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Kaiwi-Lyman Mersereau (Jackson Shea) and Denise Richards (Dr. Amanda Tyler) in a scene from "American Violence" to be released February 3.

After graduating from Mid-Pacific, Lyman-Mersereau moved to California to pursue his acting career and is currently in Atlanta, GA completing tactical weapons training in preparation for this next role in the bank heist film "Den of Thieves" co-starring Gerard Butler. He is truly grateful for the acting training he received during his time at Mid-Pacific and attributes this preparation to his career success.

"The great thing about Mid-Pacific School of the Arts (MPSA) is that they're preparing actors at a college level," said Lyman-Mersereau. "So the training that they give you those four years in high school is equivalent to what you would go to a college and get. So much so that I remember when I did do that one of year of college at Santa Monica Community College, I went into my first day of Acting 101...and I did a monologue from 'The Crucible,' and they immediately moved me up to Acting 103. I'm not tooting my horn; that has everything to do with my training at MPSA. You know, that gave me the tools that just put me one step ahead of the curve. And I still today use the stuff that I learned, you know when preparing a character, when breaking down a scene..."

"During his time at Mid-Pacific, Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau made a huge impression on our Theatre Program," said Mid-Pacific Director of the School of the Arts, R. Kevin Doyle. "Whether singing in 'The Fantasticks,' playing a cockroach-themed superhero, or making the audience cry in 'The Crucible,' Kaiwi threw himself into every role with enthusiasm, creativity and an infectiously positive attitude. Offstage, he was always one of the funniest, kindest students in our program. We've been proud of him and his work for years and are thrilled that his acting will reach a wider audience than ever."

"American Violence" opens in theaters for limited release on February 3. The movie will also be available on iTunes, Video on Demand (VOD), Amazon and Netflix at a later date. Lyman-Mersereau's next film "Abilene," will be released later this year. In this film, he plays legendary gunfighter John Wesley Hardin and stars together with Luke Hemsworth as Wild Bill Hickok and Kris Krisofferson as George Knox.

Read more about Mid-Pacific graduate Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser January 29 feature article by Jason Genegabus, "'American Violence' lead aims for stardom, Hawaii homecoming."