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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Emme profiles three young local talents

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Tani Lynn Fujimoto

To launch her 11th season of TV specials, producer-host Emme Tomimbang tells the inspiring stories of three young rising stars on "Emme's Island Moments: Island Rising Stars," airing tomorrow on KHON-2.

The special profiles three Islanders who have earned praise from critics and fans alike:

• Tani Lynn Fujimoto, singer-actress, who is the only Hawai'i -based co-star on "29 Down," the Isle-filmed NBC Discovery Kids series.

• Makana, a singer and slack-key guitarist who studied with the late master Sonny Chillingworth in his pursuit of a career in ki ho'alu, and now has branched out into pop music.

• Bethany Hamilton, the 13-year-old Kaua'i surfer who bounced back after being attacked by a shark that took her left arm.

Bethany Hamilton still surfs after losing an arm in a shark attack.

Associated Press library photo


• 9 p.m. tomorrow and 3 p.m. Sunday

• KHON-2

The show highlights the subjects' common ground: All strive to live out their dreams, believe in themselves and won't give up.

Fujimoto, 16, a Sacred Hearts Academy junior, has been on stage since grade school, entering competitions galore — and winning some. In a clip showing her performance of "Maybe This Time," in an Apollo Theatre contest at age 11, she displays mature confidence despite her age.

Her philosophy? "All you have to do is believe in yourself."

A fellow Sacred Hearts grad, Tia Carrere, surprises Fujimoto as the show is being taped, sharing her Hollywood experiences with the younger actress. Fujimoto said meeting her childhood idol was "weird in a good way."

Carrere's advice about working with Hollywood's movers, shakers and molders: "You can bend, you can sway, but you have to stay rooted."

Makana, 26, remembers how he was blessed with a mentor, Chillingworth, who helped shape his ki ho'alu journey.

"Music is not about money; music is about touching people," says Makana, formerly known as The Ki ho'alu Kid and Matt Swalinkovich.

Makana brings elements from abroad to his Island-based musicianship. His whole approach is about sharing soul. "Express yourself in a beautiful way," he says.

Hamilton, now 15, was 13 when she made international headlines after a shark attack off the Garden Isle.

She recounts that day — "I lost a little over 50 percent of my blood" — but has rebounded with courage. About a month after the attack, she was back surfing.

Tomimbang asks Hamilton about a prosthesis, and Hamilton says though she has one, it doesn't suit her life in the water. The key difference now, from then: She places her right hand in the middle of her surfboard to maintain initial balance.

A fourth segment of the show is a Willie K report from the Grammy Awards earlier this year, when Charles Michael Brotman's ki ho'alu compilation became the first-ever Hawaiian Grammy winner.

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com, 525-8067 or fax 525-8055.