About Me

A former journalist and an EMMY Award-winning independent filmmaker, Stephanie has been developing television documentaries since 1989. She holds an Executive MBA (2000) from the University of Hawaii. Her many awards include an Emmy Award, 3 CINE Golden Eagles, a Tele Award, two Best awards at the Hawaii International FIlm Festival, a Progress Award from the Hawaii United Filipino Council, and a Pamana Arts Legacy Award in recognition of her contribution to the Filipino American community through the documentary AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH.

Her company 'Olena Media is based in Hawaii and has producing partners in Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. She also produces marketing, educational, nonprofit and promotional videos.

My Biography

A former Hawaii newspaper journalist and an EMMY Award-winning independent filmmaker, Stephanie has been developing television documentaries full-time since 1989. Her other film awards are detailed below.

She holds an Executive MBA (2000) from the University of Hawaii and was a 1999 Selected Professions Fellow with the American Association of University Women. She also received two Career Development Grants from the AAUW in her undergraduate and graduate years.

After a five-year stint as a reporter with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Stephanie formed her Hawaii-based production company, 'Olena Media. It completed its first documentary film, SIMPLE COURAGE: A Historical Portrait for the Age of AIDS, in 1992 as a co-production with Hawaii Public Television. The documentary examined the history behind Hawaii's tragic leprosy epidemic and the compassionate intervention of Belgium missionary priest Father Damien. It won a Regional EMMY in 1993 as well as many other national awards that year, including a CINE Golden Eagle, a Gold Award at Worldfest Houston, a Silver Award at the Chicago Intl Film Festival, Best Hawaii Film at the Hawaii International Film Festival, and an Honorable Mention from the National Education Association.

Currently, Stephanie is making her 10th documentary, THOMAS CHAPIN, NIGHT BIRD SONG to reveal to the world an important voice for jazz. It will tell the story of the short but remarkable career of a committed, passionate artist who lived his life so completely for the music. Thomas Chapin, who emerged in the 1980's in New York jazz scene, is remembered for his highly original style that helped move the music forward in the 1990's. He died in 1998 at age 40 from leukemia. His is a voice and life in jazz that is missed in the 21st century, yet continues to exhilarate and inform the music today and will for generations to come. 

DETAILS OF PAST WORK:

In September, 2012, Stephanie completed GRACE AND BEAUTY, a 40-minute documentary on the unique and intriguing history of the Episcopal Church in Hawaii.

In February 2011, Stephanie was retained as a writer to work on a personal history project that took her to Thailand and Burma for research.

In 2010, Stephanie worked as a consultant to Kauai Girl Productions as an associate producer/writer/editor. She re-edited the documentary, MISS SOUTH PACIFIC, which continues to show at film festivals around the world.

In November 2009, PBS Hawaii hosted the broadcast premiere of her ninth documentary, STRANGE LAND. The hour-long documentary told the story of her mother, Norma Vega Castillo, a WWII war bride who left her Philippines to come to America with her soldier husband from Hawaii.

In May 2009, she completed two years as a communications specialist for Consuelo Foundation, a Hawaii-based operating foundation, a nonprofit doing work among poor children, women and families in the Philippines and Hawaii. She produced for the Foundation a 40-minute high-definition video that celebrated the Foundation's benefactress and the foundation 20 years of giving hope to women, children and families suffering from poverty and abuse.

Starting in in 2005, AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH: THE STORY OF THE 1ST AND 2ND FILIPINO INFANTRY REGIMENT, US ARMY aired on national PBS prime time for four years. She and three fellow filmmakers of Filipino American ancestry completed the one-hour documentary in 2002 after beginning work on it in 1995. It was narrated by actor Lou Diamond Phillips. All of the filmmakers had personal ties

In October 2010, Stephanie began work on creating flash websites for clients on the island of Kauai, Hawaii where she now lives.

She also serves as production consultant on a new documentary from Native Hawaiian filmmaker Meleanna Aluli Meyer. When completed, KU'U 'AINA ALOHA: MY BELOVED COUNTRY will tell the story of the overthrow and annexation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States and its aftermath from the point of view and perspective of Native Hawaiians.

Also in 2003, Stephanie received two community awards for her work on AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH -- a 2003 Pamana Arts Legacy Award presented to her by the Filipino Arts Exposition in San Francisco and a 2002 Progress Award presented by the United Filipino Council of Hawaii.

Stephanie continues to seek production funding for TREASURED ABOVE GOLD, a project conceived in 1994. It will tell the remarkable story of the historic connections between Korea and Japans ceramics through the story of abducted Korean potters and Korean teabowls used in Japanese tea ceremony.

Revised in March 2014

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