Kaui Hart Hemmings ’94

Samuel Chapman Armstrong Humanitarian Awardee

Department: Alumni Profiles


Each year, the Punahou Alumni Association recognizes a group of individuals who are dedicated to improving the lives of others through service and contribution to the communities of Punahou, Hawai‘i and beyond. The individual stories of this year’s awardees feature diverse vocations, a variety of passions and an unwavering commitment to the School. Their achievements are an inspiration to the entire Punahou community.

Read additional stories in this feature by Myron Arakawa ’66, Richard Cox ’38, Lynne Johnson ’62, Eric Kusunoki, Allen Murabayashi ’90, Kahi Pacarro ’97, Kenneth Richardson ’48 and Loretta Luke ’64 Yajima.

Samuel Chapman Armstrong Humanitarian Award

The Samuel Chapman Armstrong Humanitarian Award is given to Punahou alumni who have made outstanding contributions to society, in the fields of public service, humanitarian or charitable efforts, arts, letters or sciences, garnering national or international recognition.

By Erin Teruya ’93 Kinney

When filmmaker Alexander Payne asked The New York Times best-selling author Kaui Hart Hemmings ’94 who she thought should play the lead character for the film adaptation of her 2007 novel, “The Descendants,” she replied, “George Clooney,” and then slightly embarrassed about her answer, added “or whoever.”

Turns out, George Clooney would be cast as Matt King. The 2011 film was a success with critics – winning the Academy Award for Best Writing/ Adapted Screenplay, as well as two Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture – Drama and Best Actor – Drama for Clooney.

Moving past the success and limelight of “The Descendants,” Hemmings has written three additional novels, including the most recent “How to Party with an Infant,” which was published in August 2016.

In 2012, Hemmings was also selected as one of five delegates from the University of Iowa to represent American authors in Shanghai. She was also awarded a residency at the Dora Maar House in Menerbes, France, in 2013 through the Museum of Fine Arts Houston – Brown Foundation Fellows program.

She has written articles in O, The Oprah Magazine; Sunset magazine; The New York Times; and The Guardian, and has been a lecturer at Google, the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, the Eurofilm Society, the Aloha Writers Conference on Maui, Stanford University, Colorado College and various Hawai‘i high schools, including Punahou.


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