Page 5 - MidWeek Kauai - June 9, 2021
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For Kalilimoku, It’s Lights, Camera, Lasso!
pay a lot of money for this. I could do this!’”
self in sports, and I think it made me push myself with my career and just any sort of goals I’ ve had,” he says. “The success from that made me believe that anything is possible.”
and Molly Shannon, and Hall- mark Channel’s You Had Me at Aloha, which premiered June 5. This month, Kalil- imoku begins filming a new venture on Oʻahu that’s still under wraps, though he teases it’s a “pretty big project.”
In the years since, Ka- lilimoku has been a part of countless commercials, movies and TV shows — in- cluding Jumanji, Next Goal Wins and The Naked Direc- tor — and credits his work ethic and grit to his time as a Rainbow Warrior. Under the direction of coach June Jones from 2004 to 2008, Ka- lilimoku received a full-ride scholarship as a walk-on.
Even though he’s now un- der lights different from those at Aloha Stadium, Kalilimoku ensures that he’ll never forget where he came from.
“It’s so awesome to even have the chance to work in Hawaiʻi’s film industry,” he says. “We have a lot of local people — from the lighting crew to hair and makeup, to the guys who do the rigging — who are super supportive. They’re rooting for us. They want us to do good and go far, and I love that about our people.”
“I’ ve always pushed my-
Coming up, catch him in The White Lotus, an HBO comedy featuring Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge
JUNE 9, 2021
     Brad Kalilimoku and his horse, Kea, were a part of the 2019 Aloha Festivals Annual Floral Parade, during which he shared his message about aloha ‘āina. PHOTO COURTESY BRAD KALILIMOKU
on the horizon for this up-and- comer, but if it’s anything like his other accomplishments, there’s a good chance it’ll be another item he can cross off his bucket list.
When he’s not putting himself in the shoes of a new character, Kalilimoku puts on a pair of denim jeans and cowboy boots — the quintes- sential uniform for his mod- ern-day paniolo lifestyle.
I grabbed the horse’s mane. I pulled myself on the horse’s neck and I started to slide down and got on its back. All of a sudden, my mom starts to come back and yells, ‘Oh, my God! ‘What are you doing? Get off the horse!’ But from that time, she could tell that I had an interest in horses.
“I’m comfortable dressing that way wherever I go,” he says. “And people are like, ‘Brah, you need to dress up.’ But I like taking that piece of me and walking downtown and into offices feeling like I’m the same person.”
“My mom sent me to Abra- ham Akau at Kualoa. He’s probably one of the greatest cowboys in our Hawaiian history. He kind of ‘hānai-ed’ me, and I learned everything I know from him.”
Today, downtime for Ka- lilimoku usually looks like spending the day with his horses, Kea and Akau, at his Central Oʻahu stable. He learned to love the four-legged creatures at an early age, when he was his mother Roxanne’s designated pooper scooper.
This, along with his desire to honor his culture, inspired Kalilimoku to establish his clothing line Hawaiʻi Paniolo. Right now, the items are only available for purchase at Ka- lilimoku’s meet-and-greets, but check out his Instagram (@keku43) for updates.
(Top) When he isn’t filming, Kalilimoku can be found wearing denim jeans and cowboy boots, and chillin’ with one of his horses, Kea.
(Above) Kalilimoku played Kua Kawena, the late husband of Leilani (played by Kelly Hu) in Netflix’s Finding ‘Ohana. PHOTO COURTESY BRAD KALILIMOKU
“I wasn’t for it but, you know, gotta support the mom,” Kalilimoku says with a smile. “I remember one day, her and her unit were riding at Gun- stock (Ranch), and there were these two horses who were tied up — no saddles on them, just bareback — and I ended up climbing up the guardrail, and
“I wanted to share my pa- niolo side with everyone,” he says. “I’ve been modeling for people and I wanted my own brand that I’m super passion- ate about. I want a brand that will bring out happiness and for people to be proud of. We think about our farmers, we think about our ranchers, the
people who have land in Ha- waiʻi, and want to keep it that way without it getting devel- oped, so, when people wear my clothes, I’ m super proud and appreciative of it.”
century and became legends. “I act, I speak Hawaiian, I’m a paniolo — I can’t say I know a better person for the role. I don’t even have to act; it’s literally me being myself,”
To further embody this way of life, Kalilimoku is crossing all of his fingers and toes to book a role in Disney+’s Alo- ha Rodeo, a movie that depicts the journey of three Hawaiian cowboys who traveled to Wy- oming at the turn of the 20th
Kalilimoku says.
Only time will tell what’s

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