New movie is next step for West Oahu athlete

IFBB bodybuilding professional Donta Tanner will make his movie debut in Lifetime Channel movie exclusive, “Deadly Matrimony,” which airs Oct. 26. Photo courtesy of Maelyn Marie Photography

Randy Dela Cruz
Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Retired U.S. Navy Lt. Donta Tanner can and probably should write a book on what it means to be successful.

While finishing a decorated 20-year career in the military, Tanner, who resides in Waipahu with his family, became a bodybuilder.

In 2012, he reached the pinnacle of his sport by joining the very limited fraternity of physique bodybuilders when he earned a pro card at the 2012 International Federation Bodybuilding North American Championships.

He earned his card by placing first in the physique competition’s class “C” (5-feet-11-inches to 6-feet-1-inch) and Men’s Overall age 35 and above division.

With two extraordinary accomplishments neatly tucked away in his back pocket, Tanner set his sights on another challenging vocation: acting. And just as his previous successes, he just might be on his way to conquering his latest endeavor.

On Oct. 26, Tanner will hit the bright lights with his biggest acting role to date, in the Lifetime Channel movie exclusive, “Deadly Matrimony,” which premieres Oct. 26. Check local listings for time and channel.

“This is the first time that I have a speaking role in a movie as one of the lead roles,” Tanner said. “This is the biggest one that I’ve done, and it was the most challenging. Lots of scenes and not only was this my first role in a movie, it was my first movie that I had to do an accent.”

While his scenes were all shot locally, the mystery movie is set in the Caribbean, and Tanner had to mimic the area’s dialect throughout his appearance.

“To me, it was really fun because you get to be creative,” he said. “I listened to how the people from the Cayman Islands speak. So I had to learn a different way to say the same words, and it was a fun experience learning that.”

Starting immediately after he retired from the Navy, Tanner quickly learned to combine his chiseled physique and masculine looks with hard work to get his acting career on a fast track.

His first gig was a role on the ABC American military drama “Last Resort,” where he played a capitol police officer, and he soon followed that up by serving as a body double for actor Corey Hawkins in the movie, “Kong: Skull Island.”

Add to that numerous appearances in “Hawaii Five-0,” which also included a speaking role as a Halawa prison guard, and the new “Magnum P.I.” and you can see that Tanner is on a mission to become a Hollywood A-lister.

“So the role that I have now, you have A-list actors doing what I’m doing,” Tanner pointed out. “I will actually do this a lot more to show my skill set, but I tell you what, I now have the experience to where if “Magnum P.I.” was looking for a character that was in my wheelhouse, I could certainly do that role. I have hands-on experience and on-the-job experience to perform well.”

And if Tanner isn’t winning enough, well, he’s got a lot more going for him than his past accomplishments and rising acting career.

Tanner is also a successful physical trainer and serves as a strength and conditioning coach at Moanalua High School, where the Na Menehune varsity football squad is currently ranked among the top-10 teams in the state.

While Tanner has a lot going on for him, he isn’t the only one in the household that is an overachiever.

“We have a lot of fun,” he said with a chuckle. “We challenge each other. Like for instance, if my son or daughter is not doing so well in school or not trying hard enough in sports, she’ll (my wife) say something like, ‘Your actions don’t match your goals, so you might want to get one of those things straight. Change your goals or change your actions.'”

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Category: Sports