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‘Running for Grace’ a Tale of Forbidden Love Set in 1920s Hawaii

Olivia Ritchie and Ryan Potter in a scene from “Running for Grace.”

“Running for Grace,” a timeless tale that takes place against the backdrop of the segregated coffee fields in 1920s Hawaii, is now in theaters throughout the Southland and available on demand.

Jo, an orphan boy of mixed race, finds family with the newly arrived white village doctor (Matt Dillon). The boy can run like the wind, and begins bringing Doc’s medicine to coffee pickers throughout the mountainous region.

On an errand, the medicine runner meets Grace, the daughter of the plantation owner, and a forbidden, young love blossoms like the white “Kona Snow” of the surrounding coffee trees. Fighting for his place in society and yearning to belong, Jo discovers his identity through the grace of adoption and the power of family.

Jo and Grace are played as adults by Ryan Potter and Olivia Ritchie and as children by Cole Takiue and Betty Lewis.

Directed by David L. Cunningham and co-written by Cunningham and Christian Parkes, the film also stars Jim Caviezel, Juliet Mills, Nick Boraine, Stelio Savante, Peyton Dilweg, Sara Naby Kim, Derek Hall, Jon Sakata, Dann Seki and Shiro Kawai.

Rumi Oyama, the choreographer of this year’s production of “Allegiance” at the Aratani Theatre and a cast member of the Broadway production, plays Miss Hanabusa.

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Ryan Potter stars in “Running for Grace.”

Potter, who is Japanese on his father’s side, was born in Portland in 1995 and raised in Tokyo until he returned to the U.S. at age 7. In 2010, he began his acting career at the age of 15 when he received a leaflet in his kung fu class announcing Nickelodeon was looking for teenagers to star in a new martial-arts themed series, “Supah Ninjas.” Potter auditioned and eventually landed the lead role of Mike Fukanaga, a typical American teen who discovers he is a descendant from a long line of ninjas.

Following the premiere of “Supah Ninjas” in 2011, he became one of Nickelodeon’s popular young stars, featured in numerous teen magazines and making appearances in the network’s special “Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play” and its reboot of “Figure It Out,” as well as its sister network’s broadcast of the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards.

In 2012, Potter began a recurring role on “Fred: The Show,” portraying Fred’s best friend. Potter voiced Hiro Hamada, the protagonist of Disney’s “Big Hero 6” (2014), and reprised the role in the animated series based on the film.

Potter also lobbied for the role of DC superhero Tim Drake and created a concept fight scene using the character’s signature bō staff as an audition. He ended the video with a plea to Ben Affleck to cast him as Robin. He was then cast as Beast Boy (or Garfield “Gar” Logan) in Warner Bros.’ live-action “Titans” series. The character is a teen who developed green skin and the ability to shape-shift into any animal as the side effects from a drug that cured him of a lethal disease.

Potter founded Toy Box of Hope, a charity that holds an annual holiday collection drive for children in homeless shelters and transitional living facilities in the Los Angeles area.

At age 16, he was one of the youngest celebrities to lend his voice to California’s No H8 Campaign in support of marriage equality.

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