From the entertainment industry to the sports world, Hawaii has always contributed to its share of superstars. Don Ho is a show business legend. The great Duke Kahanamoku put the Islands on the sports map. Bette Midler and Jim Nabors have earned their own stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hawaii’s galaxy of celebrities, however, also includes several rising stars who are currently carving their own path to success. They aren’t legends—yet—but time is on their side. Here’s a look at a few of Hawaii’s best and brightest young talents.
Jasmine Trias admits her life was forever changed after her amazing run on TV’s phenomenally successful “American Idol.” Trias, a 17-year-old Mililani resident who recently graduated from Maryknoll High School in Honolulu, probably never imagined rubbing elbows with the likes of Elton John, Barry Manilow, and Gloria Estefan. Nor did she envision previous Hawaii Lieutenant Governor James Aiona proclaiming last May 13 as “Jasmine Trias Day.”
Trias was among the final three contestants on “American Idol 3,” charming millions of TV viewers with her vocal talents and stage presence. What’s next? No doubt, a major recording contract is in her future. “Anything’s possible,” she told one local reporter. “I didn’t think I could make a career out of this, but I remembered to never give up and always try your best.”
Jerome Williams has come a long way from his days at Waipahu High School, a public school in Leeward Oahu. The gifted athlete is now a starting pitcher with the San Francisco Giants, sharing the field with a future Hall of Famer by the name of Barry Bonds.
Born December 4, 1981, Williams made his Major League debut in 2003 and posted a 7-5 record. Baseball America named him as the Giants’ “Top Prospect” prior to the 2002 season.
Even with his “big league” career, Williams hasn’t forgotten his roots. He wears a Hawaiian puka shell necklace during games in memory of his mother, who died in 2001 from breast cancer. The Giants have even sold puka shell necklaces at home games, with proceeds benefiting breast cancer research.
For a certain legendary Hawaii entertainer, Hoku Ho will always be “daddy’s girl.” But Ho is more than Don Ho’s daughter. the 23-year-old singer and actress proved that with her Top 30 single, “Another Dumb Blonde,” which was featured in the 2000 film, Snow Day. Her debut CD, Hoku, was also released in 2000.
Expect more exciting projects from Hoku in the future. Still, there’s no doubt who’d get top billing if she and her dad appear in concert together. “Are you kidding?” she told a local reporter. “Definitely Dad—he’s Don Ho!”
Many golf experts will say that Michelle Wie has already earned superstar status. The young prodigy is already one of the top attractions in women’s golf, and she’s held her own playing against the top pros on the men’s tour. And the scary thing is, she’s only 14.
Born in Honolulu on October 11, 1989, Wie took up golf when she was only four. At the age of 10, she became the youngest player ever to qualify for the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. In 2003, at the age of 13, she won the event. In the spring of 2004, the Punahou School freshman won the Laureus Newcomer Award, beating out other nominees including basketball superstar LeBron James.
Wie continues to set high goals for herself, including beating Tiger Woods head-to-head or playing in the sport’s grandest event: The Masters. “These are really long-term goals, and that’s what makes me work harder,” she has said. “I think if you put your goals really high, that makes you practice harder.”
Hawaii has always been close to Jason Momoa’s heart, even while growing up in Norwalk, Iowa. The Honolulu-born model-turned-actor spent many summers in the Islands. “My dad gave me the aloha spirit,” he recalled to a local reporter. “He’s a big waterman, and we’d paddle, surf and go boogie boarding.”
Now, at age 24, Momoa is riding the waves of Hollywood success. He landed a recurring role on the syndicated series, “Baywatch Hawaii” and starred in “Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding.” More recently, he made his movie debut with Johnson Family Vacation, starring Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa Williams, and Steve Harvey.
Momoa also starred in the Fox hit series, “North Shore.” Momoa played the role of Frankie Seau.
Although he’s small in height and weight, professional boxer Brian Viloria is a giant in the ring. Nicknamed the “Hawaiian Punch,” the 2000 Olympian and NABF Flyweight champion is on the verge of a world title shot. It’s just a matter of time.
Viloria, who grew up in Waipahu on the island of Oahu, has a professional record of 15-0 with nine knockouts. His exciting style and punching power has made him a headliner on several ESPN2 fight cards.
Hawaii has a proud line of world-class fighters, from Carl “Bobo” Olson to Andy Ganigan and Jesus Salud. And although he’s only 5’4″ and 112 pounds, Brian Viloria could very well be Hawaii’s “next big thing” in boxing.