Retired Navy lieutenant lands role in Hawaii Five-O

Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Next Friday, Sept. 29, the popular CBS television series, “Hawaii Five-O” premieres for its eighth season on air.

The show returns with stars such as Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan in their reoccurring roles, but for the opener, keep your eyes peeled for a familiar face at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Retired Navy Lt. Donta Tanner, who has also built quite a reputation as a fitness instructor at the Hickam and JBPHH fitness centers, will appear in the episode to kick off the new season with a major speaking role.

Tanner, who is an accomplished International Federation of bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) professional fitness athlete, said that he got the acting bug soon after he retired from the Navy back in 2013 and his role in the Hawaii Five-O season premiere is his biggest one yet.

“I’m still on cloud nine,” he said. “I told my family and they was like, ‘you what?’ I’ve been on auditions for years trying to land a speaking role.”

While he can’t elaborate on the premise of the season opener, he did reveal that he would be playing the role of a Halawa Correctional Facility prison guard in a dramatic scene that is filled with action.

“It’s a pretty revealing scene that I’m in and would definitely be a spoiler for me to talk about,” Tanner said. “I’m interacting with another prison guard and we’ve got some pretty good dialogue. It’s a pretty intense moment and I think the fans will be sitting on the edge of their seats.”

Although Tanner has been on the Hawaii Five-O set many times as an extra, this is the first speaking role that he earned on the longtime show.

Tanner said that he has auditioned for a dozen speaking roles, so to finally break through is something that he has wanted for a while.

“I’ve been an extra for years,” he said. “I’ve played other roles (on the show). I’ve played HPD, a surfer guy and in the Pro Bowl episode, I played one of the Pro Bowl players.”

Tanner also served as a body double for actor Corey Hawkins in the movie, “Kong: Skull Island.”

The strange thing about the Five-O opportunity, Tanner said, was that he had forgotten about it when the show’s executives didn’t give him a call back.

Already working on the movie “Jurassic World,” which will be released next year, Tanner said that he didn’t hear about the Five-O role until he got a call from his agent.

“She said, “Congratulations Donta. Great job,” Tanner recalled. “I’m like, for what? We don’t wrap this job until a couple of weeks. But she was calling me to congratulate me for winning the Five-O job.”

Tanner said that he got hooked on acting during the filming of his local television show, “The Best You Possible,” and it’s been full steam ahead.

Not one to shy away from challenges, the highly competitive profession of acting is a perfect outlet for the goal-oriented Tanner.

“One thing is that I’m not afraid to fail,” he said. “I’m not afraid to get up on the stage, I’m not afraid to get up in front of the camera and forget my lines because I’ve lived my whole life where I’ve had challenges and adversity. I’m impervious to the storm.”

Even though the bright lights of the cinema is enough to lead people astray, Tanner remains grounded by his commitment to his family.

This year, like in years past, the Hawaii Five-O premiere is scheduled for a gathering of cast members in a red-carpet “Sunset on the Beach” in Waikiki.

Instead of accepting his place among cast members at the event, Tanner will be with his daughter during Moanalua High School’s homecoming celebration.

“Even though it’s my first TV speaking role, it’s my daughter’s senior year,” he said. “It’s a pretty big deal in Hawaii, but I won’t be joining all those stars because I won’t miss her (my daughter’s) homecoming event.”

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Category: News