Disney is in the process of creating a live-action Lilo & Stitch film. The production house recently announced that newcomer Kahiau Machado would play the role of David Kawena, Nani’s love interest and Lilo’s protector. In the original productions, David and Nani bonded through their shared struggles, eventually becoming a couple.  

Kahiau Machado is a native Hawaiian who grew up in Kaneohe, O’ahu

Kahiau Machado is a native Hawaiian. He was raised in Kaneohe, O’ahu. The aspiring actor played volleyball for the Hawaii Warriors men’s volleyball team as a defensive specialist. 

Machado has no acting credits, but he likely has a background in theater. On his Instagram page, he describes himself as an actor managed by Aubree Lee Agency Hawaii.

By casting Machado, Disney has maintained its trend of casting Hawaiians to play Hawaiian characters. Sydney Agudong, a Hawaii native, will play Nani, a Hawaiian character. On the face of it, Disney deserves plaudits for its commitment to authenticity. 

However, people on social media have accused Disney of colorism, claiming that the live-action characters are lighter than their cartoon equivalents. Despite being Hawaiian, Agudong and Machado are allegedly not dark enough to portray Nani and David, some fans claim. 

“I am outraged,” @lytchell tweeted, quoting a photo of Machado alongside David. “Colorism and twinkification of one of Disney’s sexiest characters ever created?”

@Dragonpulse87 tweeted: “If your [sic] going to have a live-action remake, make sure that you stick with actors that match or closely match the characters. You can’t butcher something that simple.”