HawaiiWood

Joji Yoshida
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Friday - April 21, 2006
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Gina Hiraizumi
Gina Hiraizumi

Farewell New York, hello Honolulu! Sultry actress Gina Hiraizumi is in Hawaii right now. She was born and raised in sunny Southern California and trained at the Juilliard School in NYC - movie stars Val Kilmer, Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams went there too. She’s on a promotional tour in the isles for The Hot Spot, directed and starring Larenz Tate. For those not familiar with Larenz, he starred in the Oscar-winning film Crash. The fantastic ensemble cast included Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Michael Peña, Ryan Phillipe, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Esposito, Thandie Newton and rapper Ludacris. Gina’s becoming a regular visitor to the islands. She was here recently at the 2005 Hawaii International Film Festival screening of Lane Nishikawa‘s Only the Brave. The movie stars Tamlyn Tomita, Jason Scott Lee, Yuji Okumoto, Mark Dacascos and the late Pat Morita. Log on to www.ginaonline.net for updates on Gina’s blossoming career. One of the key points in her life came when she landed a recurring role on ABC’s daytime soap Port Charles. Kudos to Liz Hata-Watanabe and James Moravec for their promotional help. Check out Gina’s appearances at the O Lounge and the W Hotel. See you there ...


Mark Wolf hails from Rockville, Md., and attends the University of Hawaii as a sophomore. He studies filmmaking at the Academy of Creative Media. Striving to follow in the footsteps of directors M. Night Shyamalan and Alfred Hitchcock, Mark’s goal is to get two degrees, one in film production and another in business management. They complement each other. He loves Susan Sarandon and John Cusack for their versatility in the characters they play. There is no one I know of who loves sushi as much as Mark, and I’m a fanatic myself. He also hangs out at Hale Aloha Cafeteria on the UH campus. It’s the place where deals are made in the local indie scene. The food is reasonably priced and good, I might add. Mark is definitely on his way to entertaining audiences through his films ...

Newcomer Kesha Diodato got her first credit in Hawaii. She was featured in the popular Island Air commercial starring Dezmond Gilla. Originally from Hampton, Va., her acting career began in her teens. I’ve seen her performances and she’s very impressive. She studies with veteran acting coach Wayne Ward. Kesha is dedicated and determined to pursue her film acting endeavor. She enjoys watching Jodie Foster and Denzel Washington movies, and likes Indian and Italian cuisine. Her free time is spent practicing dance, singing and playing various sports. She’s represented by the Kathy Muller Talent Agency, one of the most established in Hawaii. Once in a great while an actress comes along who really stands out. Kesha is her name ...


Actor Valen Ahlo co-starred in the award-winning film Kamea, directed by Jennifer Akana-Sturla. The movie made local celebs of Malia Verdadero, Kimiko Rojas, Kula Barbieto and Maui Laigo. Valen’s performance as the comical surfer was memorable at the 2004 Hawaii International Film Festival. He currently attends Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and is a Kamehameha Schools alumnus. One of his earlier accomplishments was winning the title of Keiki Hula exactly a decade ago. His faves are Kalapana and ‘70s R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire, and Will Ferrell movies. You can watch the heartwarming Kamea Thursday, April 27, at 8:30 p.m. on PBS Hawaii. A big thanks to president of PBS Hawaii Mike McCartney for bringing quality programs to our shores. Mark your calendar. Summer is almost upon us, and I’m sure Valen can’t wait to come home and go surfing ...

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