Nonbinary Samoan actor Kaimana has been cast in the lead role for Taika Waititi’s upcoming film Next Goal Wins.
The film, which is based on a 2014 documentary of the same name, will chronicle the Samoan soccer team's reinvention after the longest losing streak in international soccer which garnered them headlines worldwide as the worst soccer team on the planet.
Kaimana will portray Jaiyah Saelua, the first nonbinary player to compete in a men’s FIFA World Cup qualifier. Saeulua was also a star of the team. Both Kaimana and Saelua are fa’afafine, a third gender recognized in traditional Samoan society.
In an interview with Variety, Waititi said that he never thought of considering cisgender actors for the role. “It was vital,” he said. “There was no way we would have approached it in any other way.”
The Thor: Ragnarok director went on to explain that New Zealand and Polynesia’s fa’afafine community is “very respected.”
“It’s an accepted part of the culture and of life,” he said. “It’s very inclusive.”
Fans of Waititi were thrilled at the announcement.
“Taika Waititi casting a nonbinary actor for a nonbinary role... let the stanning ascend to a new level!” one user wrote.
Waititi wrote the script in collaboration with Iain Morris, creator of The Inbetweeners. The film will star Elisabeth Moss and Michael Fassbender. Fassbender will play the team's coach.
Waititi is teaming up with Fox Searchlight, the studio behind Jojo Rabbit, his satirical black comedy film that has been generating Oscar buzz.
“I’ve just started production on my next film, Next Goal Wins,” Waititi told Variety in a statement. “We have such an amazing cast and crew behind this film, and I’m stoked to be partnering once again with the lovely people at Fox Searchlight Pictures.”
Production began last week in Honolulu. You can watch the trailer for the original documentary below.