By LACY MATSUMOTO
Special to the Star-Advertiser
You know when you meet someone and you instantly click? That’s what happened between Taryn Manning and me. I don’t know if it’s because we’re both Scorpios who love music, or if we’re wild girls, but the instant I met Taryn, I knew we’d be having some magical adventures together.
When Taryn Manning asked me to be her date to last night’s premiere of “Hawaii Five-O,” I thought, “Oh, fun! I wanna dress up!” Just as simple as that. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the intensity of what actually took place.
Monday morning: I woke up, as usual checked online news and social media sites, and that’s when it hit me. The energy behind the event was really starting to build as fans, writers and people involved with the show were all buzzing about the night’s event. What really struck me was that some anticipated 10,000 people attending Sunset on the Beach.
I started to panic slightly and texted Taryn to get her impression on how the event would turn out — but she was on a plane from LA to Honolulu so we couldn’t chat. So I made a checklist, like when I was in high school getting ready for prom. It looked like this:
- Pack hair and make up (Check!)
- Pick up dress from Acid Dolls (Check!)
- Borrow clutch from Tiare (Check!)
- Match shoes to dress (These will have to do)
- Shave my legs (Check!)
- Paint my nails (Check!)
AFTER A SLIGHT DELAY and a problem at animal quarantine, I finally picked up Taryn from the airport. Now, if you don’t know anything about Taryn, I can tell you three things about her that make me adore her:
1. She is an animal lover, inside and out. And her dog Penguin is the light of her life.
2. She loves music.
3. She loves unicorns.
SHE HAS BEEN talking about how excited she was to bring her dog from LA ever since I’ve known her. And when the officers at the quarantine decided to keep Penguin overnight, Taryn was devastated. Her pretty eyes were red from crying, and she looked like her heart was in sheer pain. She left her sweatshirt to keep in the kennel with Penguin, and politely excused herself from the office.
“Penguin has to stay in jail overnight, and I’m just so worried because of the conditions in there. They don’t walk them to use the restroom, and I don’t want her to be traumatized because she’s just a sweetheart,” said Manning as we drove away from the airport.
I swallowed my fear of the event, and took this as a sign not to worry her. For the rest of the ride, we chatted about her trip to New York for another red-carpet event as part of the launch of the movie “Heaven’s Rain.”
We pulled up to her apartment and were already behind schedule. We had to be on the red carpet in an less than two hours, and we still needed to get Taryn showered and into hair and makeup. What took me all day to prepare, she whipped together in the short period of time.
MAKEUP ARTIST Doris Foltin from Maleana Cosmetics was already standing by with her kits full of magic, color, shimmer and every tool you could think of. Within a flash, and after sipping some Vueve Clicquot, we were downstairs and in the black SUV.
Taryn looked stunning in her strapless, shimmering dress by Collette Dinnigan, her Brian Atwood nude pumps, and her Amanda Pearl clutch that was tiny enough to be a tootsie roll.
OUR DRIVER was Ezra from Kapolei. He was wearing a brightly colored aloha shirt that he had to specify “was mandatory.” He was pretty awesome.
We pulled into Waikiki and into a loading area behind the zoo, where all the actors mingled and waited to start the procession of black SUVs. Every actor had a car and driver for their party. Taryn said hello to her fellow castmates, and we took the mellow opportunity to do a photo opt with the real Five-O.
As one of the organizers began instructing our driver in a heavy pidgin accent, I asked Taryn if she knew what they were saying. “Yeah, I understand it. I have to listen closely, but I get it.”
She’s a natural local girl.
AS WE PULLED OUT of the holding area and onto Kapahulu, we were given the No. 1 — yup, we were the first car to pull up to the red carpet. As the police escorts drove us through the barricades, we saw thousands of people pushed up against the metal barricades. They were screaming, waving, holding signs and snapping photos — every single person there looked excited.
We pulled up to the entrance of the red carpet and as I was on the passenger side, I was the first out the car. Then followed Taryn and the crowd went fanatic.
Grown men were screaming “Taryn, I love you! Marry me!” We both didn’t expect that big of a turnout.
“This is one of the biggest premieres I’ve been in,” said Manning. Three people rushed up to her, escorting her to the red carpet, while quickly briefing her on the media line.
SHE TURNED BACK and said, “Lacy, you’re going to be fine. Just hang back for a second and we’ll sit together. Hey, take care of her,” she instructed her agent, who stayed with me. And I clung to him. Like a nervous school girl.
As the actors each filed onto the red carpet, I lurked in the background. Yes, lurked. I didn’t know what to do, where to stand, who to talk to. But seeing Malika Dudley (a familiar face), made me feel a bit more comfortable.
Cast members took their places down the media line and we followed shortly after and caught up with Taryn just in time for me to see our local media — Gary Chun, Derek Paiva, Christa Wittmier and Tracy Chan. Ahhh, familiar faces. The only problem was that to hug them meant bending over a red velvet rope. But being near them calmed my nerves and made me feel a bit less nervous.
I couldn’t imagine what Taryn or the other cast members must have been feeling. To think just a few hours before, she was dealing with a heartbreaking experience, then had to pull it together, push her feelings aside and be in front of hundreds — no thousands — of cameras. It made me think, “Wow, these people are humans.” Imagine all the pressure to do these things. And to think of all the judgment they have to endure. I will never pick up an empty entertainment magazine again.
AS I WATCHED Taryn go from each interview to the next, her escort explained to each writer that they could ask two questions. I thought to myself, if I had two questions to ask each of these actors, what would I ask?
I started daydreaming and listing random questions in my head. Then within minutes, we were instructed to head back to the VIP tent, where there were refreshments and a restroom.
Well, there wasn’t really a restroom, there was a porta-potty. A lush one though, with carpet and air conditioning. As we stood in line behind two pretty girls, Taryn exchanged words. I turned around to see Daniel Dae Kim in line behind me. “Hey Lacy!” he said. “Wow, Taryn, you found the party girl,” he chuckled.
We lingered in the VIP tent, had a few bites of brie cheese and blueberries, and waited for the cast to be called onto the stage. Once the event began, and Taryn took her place on stage with the others, I sat in the reserved front-row seating. I don’t know why, but a feeling of sheer pride for my friend came over me. She is really a part of something that is going to be a huge success. I can feel it.
After a few words and photos, she took her seat next to me and the large flood lights dimmed and the opening scene of the first episode began.
There were large explosions, and the debut of the show was on. We quietly sneaked off. Grace Park and her husband followed. We wanted to make it to the after-party slightly early to get situated before the crowd rushed in. (Now that’s a superstar secret — be first to the party.)
EZRA ZIPPED US through Waikiki and pulled up to Nobu, where the media wall was brightly lit. Taryn was the first to grace the wall with her presence. We stepped into the empty restaurant and were greeted by servers carrying trays of wine and champagne. I graciously accepted my first — but not last — glass of champagne, and Taryn opted for a glass of red wine.
We settled in a semi-private room in the back of the restaurant and chatted. The waiters kindly brought out plates of food, and checked on us periodically. We must have chose the best table of the night because as each of the cast arrived, they came directly to the back room where we sat and snagged a few bites.
Grace Park showed me her radical gun bracelet. “It was supposed to be a necklace, but I thought it was neat as a bracelet,” she explained.
As Alex O’Loughlin approached, I think the champagne must have kicked in, because I boldly began a conversation with him. It was my chance to ask him those two questions! My big moment. You know what I asked?
“So, uh, Alex. Uh. Did they have to give you pidgin lessons?” Yup. I’m a dork.
He replied, “Well, heck yeah. I didn’t know how to talk like that. But I got it now. Eh, braddah, how much kala it goin’ take, buleh?” he said in his thick Australian accent. I laughed. I laughed hysterically.
“What? You say it then,” he said back.
“Eh, braddah, how much kala it goin’ take, buleh?,” I said with my inner Hawaiian.
“That’s what I said,” he said, laughing.
My big debut, and I had to bring up the pidgin. Oh, well. I’m pretty sure it was an original question.
THE PARTY WENT ON through the night. Champagne, sushi, more champagne, more sushi.
I think what took it over the top was Nobu — the actual Nobu — being there himself. In a room full of celebrities, extras, photographers, staff, there stood Nobu. Tray in hand, smile on his face. There’s just something about him that makes me think he must be a really neat guy.
People danced to DJ Eskae, others chatted.
Taryn carried herself with a classy and elegant way as she moved through the room. I people watched and chatted with the few people I knew.
I met the producers and writers of the show, the entire cast, and yet at the end of the day, I am still a girl raised in Palolo who loves music and dancing. How did I get here? Who knows — but when you’ve got good intent, a positive outlook, and do good deeds, there will always be magical nights like these.
The party began to clear out and wind down, and, of course, we were some of the last to close down the place. But I didn’t feel too bad, as Daniel Dae Kim and his wife were still entertaining fans. I looked over at Taryn, chatting to Nicole Fox, who was gushing with admiration. Whatever their roles are, whatever they do on their off nights, this cast is a part of history in the making and deserve every moment of admiration possible. I can only express my respect and excitement for the new things to come for each person involved in this show.
Our high heels kicked off, we pranced out of the restaurant and to our Kapolei-born driver, who took us home. Kind of like magic, the night was over and I was safe in my bed.