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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

AAPI Heritage Month - “Hawaiians Unite”

Entered in Art Direction


Hawaiians Unite is a moving, short film made for MTV Entertainment Studios’ AAPI Heritage Month. It was created and directed by native Hawaiian filmmakers Nicole Naone and Christopher Kahunahana. The idea derived from 18th century Hawaiian history, a time of warring chiefdoms between the islands. During this time, it’s believed that the prophet Kapihe uttered the following divination:

E iho ana ʻo luna (that which is above will come down)
E piʻi ana ʻo lalo (that which is below will rise up)
E hui ana nā moku (the islands shall unite)
E kū ana ka paia (the walls shall stand firm)

Shortly after, on the eve of Halleyʻs comet, Kamehameha The Great was born. He would go on to unite all the islands into one nation– Hawaiʻi. This Hawaiian Kingdom went on to be a thriving internationally recognized country until itʻs overthrow and subsequent American statehood in the 1950s. The filmmakers wanted to reenact this chant and honor its legacy as they strongly believe it is as relevant today as it was then. Often heard at Hawaiian protests, the prophecy acknowledges that despite their illegal overthrow and annexation, Hawaiians still exist and are one people. The chant now acts as a call to action for all Hawaiians - no matter where they are in the world - to unite.

Strategy and Execution

MTV Entertainment Studios takes great pride in our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – not just in thought, but in deed. We partnered with AAPI creators and Hawaiian natives, Nicole Naone and Christopher Kahunahana, to execute our unique “SEE ME” expression, where we turn over our linear and social platforms to filmmakers from the community to create a distinct spot that amplifies their voices and gives them the space to explore, spotlight, and celebrate their communities through their own personal lens. Our “SEE ME” expressions are a part of our larger “SEE ME, HEAR ME, KNOW ME” campaign, which offers a diverse array of social and linear content ranging between :10 - :60 seconds that aims to increase visibility and expand representation. Our audiences are diverse, from different communities and cultures — we not only want to amplify their voices and share their messages, but we feel it’s our responsibility to invest in them as well.

Our AAPI “See Me” creators, Nicole and Christopher, were passionate about sharing a spot with our viewers that sheds light on the history of the sovereign Hawiian nation before American statehood. Their powerful film not only relays this history, but it captures both the beauty and diversity of the Hawaiian islands and its native peoples.


Since its inception, MTV and our brands have built deep relationships with our global audience of more than a billion people by standing up and talking about issues in specific ways that resonate with young people. We use that reach to spread messages and celebrate achievements, ideas, and perspectives that matter. For us, it’s about increasing visibility and expanding representation. This is what MTV Entertainment Studios’ “SEE ME” expressions accomplish.

For this AAPI Heritage Month expression, it was particularly important for us to hear from creators of Pacific Islander heritage, as they are often forgotten or overlooked during AAPI Heritage Month. Hawaiians Unite amplifies voices in the native Hawaiian community – not only did native Hawaiians write, direct, and produce the film, but they served as talent and comprised the entire crew. The film was posted on all our brand social and series channels and received 8.04K engagements, 35.36K views, and 189.73K impressions. Additionally, the spot aired 71 times across all nine of MTV Entertainment Studios’ linear channels – MTV, VH1, Logo, Comedy Central, CMT, Smithsonian Channel, Paramount Network, Pop TV, & TV Land. All in all, in 2022, our “HEAR ME / KNOW ME / SEE ME” spots received maximum exposure on our social platforms and aired 6,283 times on our linear networks, making our investment in diverse communities and creators equivalent to more than $8 million dollars in ad revenue.


Video for AAPI Heritage Month - “Hawaiians Unite”

Entrant Company / Organization Name

MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks


Entry Credits