Malia Smith, PH.D.
Producer, Waltah the Worm

Where and with whom did you see the movie?

I saw the film at Kahala Theatres with Kevin Vaccarello (founder and executive director of Sustain Hawaii).


Image 2 of 2


Overall, what did you think?

It was an excellent movie and a must-see, as it artfully depicts a pivotal moment in history that resonates with many of the current inequality issues we face today.

Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes?

My favorite scene was when Dr. King spoke to John Lewis (then a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) about his uncertainty on whether they should continue with the cause, as many people were being injured or killed. Lewis tells King a story about how he and many others were brutally attacked at a rally a few months prior; but the day after the incident, Lewis dragged his badly injured body and discouraged self to a function where King was speaking. It was there that Lewis’ faith and hope was renewed when King said, “Fear not — we have come too far to turn back now.” In this emotional scene, Lewis reminds King of his own words, and how important it was for him to persevere and press on.

On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film?


What did you think of the cinematography?

The show did an excellent job of combining real footage from the ’60s with the more refined and vivid colors of today, which created a modern yet retro feel to the film. The visual power and depiction of emotion definitely pulled me in, and made me feel like I was a part of this historical event.

Was the message/theme clear?

Yes. The theme of the show revolves around the civil rights movement related to the 1965 marches from the town of Selma to Montgomery, Ala., led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This was in protest of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s delays in pursuing voting rights legislation for black citizens.

Did it remind you of any other works of film?

Yes. Similar to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, this film illustrated the political maneuvering, obstacles and compromises that Dr. King had to endure in order to realize his agenda for the greater good.

Who would you recommend this movie to?

Dr. King is one of the most effective and inspiring civil rights heroes in history, so anyone interested in social equity issues should see this film. I would refrain from taking small children, as there are quite a few violent scenes.

Did any of the actors stand out?

David Oyelowo did a great job depicting Dr. King. His dramatic use of arms and hand gestures, powerful oratorical voice of strength and precision, and dignified presence were very believable.

Did you identify with any of the characters?

As a Native Hawaiian woman, I identified more with the film’s theme of inequality for the minority, rather than with one character.

On a different note, what’s new with you?

Our new systems-based, sustainability-oriented educational program called Waltah the Worm launched Jan. 5 on OC-16. The program already has won three awards for its creative educational content. The show stars local comedian Tony Silva, who plays both Waltah the Worm and his sidekick Kimo. Together, they go on many “EdVentures” throughout the state and meet real local content experts, practitioners and business owners who are helping to sustain Hawaii. The program airs Sundays at 10 a.m., Mondays at 6 p.m., Tuesdays at 9 a.m., Thursdays at 2 p.m., Fridays at 6 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about our Waltah the Worm Educational Program, contact me at