Shaka Emoji vs Call MeHONOLULU, HI (April 4, 2024) – A documentary filmmaker, tech journalist, and a renowned digital designer submitted a proposal this week to the Unicode Consortium to create a new emoji representing the iconic “shaka” hand gesture. The shaka—featuring the thumb and pinky extended while the middle three fingers are curled—is a globally recognizable symbol of the aloha spirit and Hawaii’s diverse culture.

The proposal was submitted by Steve Sue, Ryan Ozawa, and Yiying Lu. Sue is producer/writer of the forthcoming documentary “Shaka, A Story of Aloha” and founder of ID8, a 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to fostering ideation and expression to create positive impacts. The team has come together to secure Hawaii’s claim as the birthplace of the shaka and ensure that it is represented accurately in the digital world.

“After 5 years of researching the shaka, it became clear that the current ‘Call Me’ emoji isn’t accurate to any of the legitimate ways a shaka is thrown,” said Steve Sue. “A dedicated, correct, and fully understood shaka emoji helps unleash the power of the shaka to share peace, love, and happiness around the world.”

The proposed shaka emoji features two design options: one adapted from the existing “Call Me” emoji but rotated 45 degrees to accurately represent the shaka’s upward orientation, and an original design by Yiying Lu showcasing the shaka with fingers facing inward—a more historically correct orientation. Both designs aim to capture the gesture’s cultural significance and differentiate it from the “Call Me” emoji, which many already use to approximate the shaka.

“The shaka gesture beautifully encapsulates Hawaii’s essence,” said Yiying Lu, a globally sought-after speaker and designer who contributed her talents to the now official emoji for Dumplings, Boba Tea, Chopsticks, Takeout Box, Fortune Cookie, and Peacock, among others. “It’s an honor to design an emoji celebrating this vibrant community.”

Rigorous Review for New Emoji

The Unicode Consortium, the organization responsible for approving new emoji, has a rigorous review process. The shaka emoji proposal will be evaluated based on factors such as expected usage level, distinctiveness, and completeness. The Emoji Subcommittee will assess the proposal’s adherence to the selection factors before making a recommendation to the Unicode Technical Committee.

Submissions for this year’s emoji additions opened on April 2, and will close on July 31. The Unicode Consortium is expected to announce the final decisions on new emoji by the end of November. If approved, the shaka emoji would be included in a future Unicode release, making it available across major platforms worldwide.

No applications were accepted in 2023. The latest version of the Unicode Standard, version 15.1, was released on September 12, 2023. It added 4,489 new characters, including 33 new emoji such as the “wireless” network symbol and additional colored hearts. The shaka emoji, if accepted, would likely be included in the subsequent Unicode 16.0 release.

Related to a Hawai’i Declaring the Shaka the State Gesture

The shaka emoji proposal comes as a legislative bill to designate the shaka as Hawaii’s official state gesture continues to move through the state legislature with unanimous support. Senate Bill 3312 passed its third reading on the floor of the state House on Wednesday, and now goes to conference committee. Lawmakers have until April 25 to schedule a public hearing and submit a final version that would ultimately go to the governor to sign.

“The universal appeal and positive meaning of the shaka is worth spreading, and we envision a number of wonderful ways to share that message,” said Ozawa, who is also an associate producer of the shaka documentary. “The proposed emoji and legislative bill are just the beginning—we are also working on a new official shaka Hawaii license plate, shaka curriculum for schools, selfie-worthy monuments in Hawaii and at sister cities around the world, even an awards program that celebrates people who epitomize the principles of shaka.”

For more information on the shaka, visit the website for the “Shaka: A Story of Aloha” documentary at