From KHON2’s archives: Jason Momoa lands coveted role on ‘Baywatch Hawaii’

Editor’s Note: This story originally aired on KHON2 on May 12, 1999.

Three local residents were welcomed today to the cast of “Baywatch Hawaii.”

The trio survived what had been a long, painstaking selection process, but the payoff could be huge.

This morning, Stacy Kamano, 24, Jason Momoa, 19, and Kalai Miller, 26, are officially cast members of “Baywatch Hawaii.”

Their selections end a process that began last month, when 1,300 hopefuls responded to an open casting call.

During the process, some familiar names popped up.

Former Miss Universe Brooke Lee auditioned, as well as surfer-model Malia Jones, and Playboy playmate Kona Carmack.

“That’s definitely some competition, but everybody’s great, great actresses. They’re beautiful, and I’m just very, very happy they chose me,” Kamano said.

“It’s a tough decision, and by the way, that’s not to say those ladies, especially Brooke and Malia, won’t be in the show, because they will. We’re going to do an episode
at least with each of them,” said co-executive producer Greg Bonann.

Producers admit the physical look was an important criteria in the selection process.

Jason Momoa bulked up an extra 10 pounds and has been working out by lifting and running heavy stones in waters off Makaha.

Finalists also took acting workshops to prepare for the next stage, the screen test.

“Look, I trained to be a county lifeguard, not some second-rate cabana boy,” Miller said.

Finally, the producers asked all the finalists to pass a variety of swimming tests.

The three new cast members were informed days ago they had won the roles, but were asked to keep it hush-hush.

“My reaction, I was completely shocked. I don’t think I’ve ever been that happy in my life,” Momoa said. “I was running all around the place.”

“It was so hard to keep a secret,” Kamano said. “I think I knew about it for six days now, and I was so excited.”

The three will earn about $2,200 to $2,300 per episode.

However, the real payoff will be in exposure. Baywatch is shown in 148 countries, and reaches 5.7 billion people a year.

“Their lives will not be the same, nor will it be the same for the rest of their lives,” said Bonann. “They’ll always be the Baywatch kids.”

There will be little time for rest for Hawaii’s three new stars.

Shooting begins on July 12, and the first episode of “Baywatch Hawaii” is scheduled to air on Sept. 20.

Editor’s Note: This story originally aired on KHON2 on Aug. 10, 1999.

There’s been no rest for the cast of “Baywatch Hawaii.”

The cast has been filming since July 9, but production is running a bit behind schedule.

Still, cast members appear unfazed as they bask in the glow of Hollywood’s bright lights.

On set, the atmosphere is light, despite a demanding work schedule.

For Hawaii cast members Stacy Kamano and Jason Momoa, it has meant a definite change in lifestyles.

“Five o’clock report time in the morning, maybe get off at 7 or 8 o’clock at night,” Kamano said. “Long days. You go home and read your lines for the next day, get a good night sleep, and you’re up in the morning again, do it all over again.”

The two say they bonded quickly with their fellow cast members despite their lack of acting experience.

But they’re learning.

“I love the acting,” Momoa said. “They haven’t complained yet, so obviously I’m doing something right.”

“They’ve both been learning by leaps and bounds every day. You can see their eyes widen when they learn something new,” said co-executive producer Greg Bonann.

Bonann says Kamano and Momoa have star potential, something both actors are hesitant to comment on.

“I haven’t gone to see the dailies yet. It’s a little scary, so we’ll see,” Kamano said. “After I see that, then I’ll comment on that.”

Brooke Burns, who’s entering her second year on the show, says there is one thing the Hawaii contingent can count on: fame.

“It’s like a roller coaster ride,” she said. “You don’t know what’s coming up next, and there’s some definite highs and some definite lows. You just have to be prepared for all of it and take life as kind of an adventure and go, ‘Woo hoo! It’s going to be fun.'”

Their first real taste of stardom may come once the show hits the air, and that time is soon.

The first episode of “Baywatch Hawaii” premieres on Sept. 25, right here on Fox 2.

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