Rising star Kiawentiio cast in live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender

Former NOW cover star is playing the kickass warrior Katara in new Netflix adaptation of beloved Nickelodeon series

Rising star Kiawentiio is having one of her acting dreams come true.

The (now) 15-year-old was on the cover of NOW’s Rising Stars issue last spring for her remarkable performance in the title role of Tracey Deer’s film Beans. At the end of my interview with her, she said she’d love to work on Avatar: The Last Airbender.

“I’m dying to be Katara,” she said about the role of the kick-ass waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe, one of four leads in the beloved Nickelodeon animation series.

Today the cast and creative team of a new Netflix live-action adaptation of the series was announced with, you guessed it, Kiawentiio playing the fierce warrior Katara.

The new series also stars Gordon Cormier as Aang, the master of all four elements, Ian Ousley as Sokka (Katara’s older brother) and Dallas Liu as Zuko, a firebender.

Albert Kim (Sleepy Hollow, Nikita) is the series’ showrunner, executive producer and writer. In a blog post accompanying the Netflix news release, he revealed how he got interested in the original series by watching with his young daughter.

“She’s the one who got me hooked,” he wrote.

Kim says VFX technology has advanced a lot since the animated series aired in 2005 to 2008.

“A live-action version can not only faithfully translate what had been done in animation,” he says, “it can bring a rich new visual dimension to a fantastic world. We’ll be able to see bending in a real and visceral way we’ve never seen before.”

Kim also sees the new version as being a “new benchmark” in terms of representation for generations of new fans.

“This [is] a chance to showcase Asian and Indigenous characters as living, breathing people. Not just in a cartoon, but in a world that truly exists, very similar to the one we live in.”


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