GETTING IT DONE: Michelle shines in showbusiness 

GETTING IT DONE: Michelle shines in showbusiness 

GETTING IT DONE: Michelle shines in showbusiness  - ShopYWCA

“You cannot keep expecting more and more if you’re not thankful for what you have.”

We are delighted to feature Michelle Malulani Ake, founder and CEO of thriving Polynesian performing arts and live-stage company Malu Productions, as a source of inspiration for the Shop YWCA community.

Michelle has performed, choreographed and produced shows for top venues across the islands, including notable international performances in more than 22 countries, with appearances in various films, music videos and commercials, and having worked with distinguished celebrities like Van Halen, Snoop Doggy Dog, Steven Segal, Lionel Richie, Kimora Lee Simmons, U2, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Don Cheadle, BJ Penn, Showtime, Elite XC, NFL, and more.

According to Michelle, what sets Malu Production shows apart is the interaction component they bring to the audience. This active engagement makes a more memorable experience - something Michelle didn’t learn overnight. In fact, she’s been performing since her pre-teens, with memories at the “Mini Disney” Castle Park, traveling to Japan and on cruise ships, and in private events, etc. It was natural for her to direct and produce a unique show based on experience that she describes as the kind of show where “guests don’t even want to leave to use the bathroom!”

This expertise - 25 years and counting, also has guided her in navigating the difficult task to marry authenticity in culture and entertainment. 

Not only is Michelle a respected, successful business owner and talented artist, she’s also a Ph.D. candidate in special education. When she started talking about her life as an educator prior to being in showbiz full time, it made total sense how one can easily see passion and optimism radiate from her.

Before you teach, you engage them

In this kind of business, Michelle juggles coordination with dancers, musicians, vendors, consultants and clients, with an international lens, and a local heart. Her confidence exudes when dealing with other people, and when asked how she finds ease in communication, she said it’s because she was once a teacher.

“The best people to hire are classroom teachers,” she said. She compares any situation to a classroom, that if one can manage students and be successful in teaching them a concept, “you can do anything!”

She credits her success with having really strong communication and people skills while she was a teacher. She worked for the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and with the Dept. of Education, which is why today, she continues to advocate for educators’ rights and benefits. 

“I’m a different creature.”

During the pandemic when the world seemed to stop, Michelle didn’t. Instead, while headlines were filled with closures, she was rebuilding and reopening hers. Michelle took advantage of the “down time” to grow - rejuvenate and restructure. She refurbished her dance studio, and recreated administrative procedures while she paused to reflect on her journey.

She volunteered on nonprofit boards and participated in programs of personal and professional development. This included YWCA  Oʻahu's Digital Marketing and Maximizing Your SEO for your Business workshops which were funded by Wells Fargo Open for Business. In addition, she participated in the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business and Leadership's Wahine Rising and the Small Business Administration's Emerging Leaders programs.

With a renewed sense of purpose and determination, Malu Productions today has daily regular shows with long-term contracts and partner establishments on Oahu, and soon will be on Maui, too. The company anticipates expansion in its international presence - adding to an already long list of countries and clients in its portfolio. 

Michelle is powered by gratitude. She shares about her vision board and the endless list of things she’s manifested in her journal that she is grateful for. 

If she is not hiking or spending time with her family at the beach, she is focused on action. “Say less, act more,” she adds. “I only feel blessed because I worked hard - whether you’re an entrepreneur or an executive, you have the power to affirm and make your plans happen.”

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