Itʻs always funny how the word “starstruck” works. Iʻm looking at a young woman who Iʻve seen on TV LOTS of times even though her star performance has yet to be seen by everyone. Sheʻs pretty, well spoken and has a flower in her hair. Despite the EARLY hour of the morning, she is chipper and energetic. Auliʻi Cravalho is standing in front of me and I have to smile. Iʻm suddenly proud of this Hawaii girl.
Despite all of the “hype” and having worked alongside one of the planetʻs most recognizable filmstar/celebs, she holds herself well. Sunrise crew is giddy; everyone is SUPER happy for her, and are trying to be respectful, but face it; all of us wants to take a selfie with Auliʻi. Itʻs really cute/borderline awesome; weʻve met some of the worlds most known celebs and talked with them, but to see a Hawaii girl that is going places, weʻre all giddy.
She does her interview with flying colors. Meanwhile Iʻm off site and headed back to the station. I know that her mom, Puanani Cravalho is from Kona and sheʻs going to be there. Iʻm excited to meet both.
To tell you the truth, I donʻt remember a Puanani Cravalho in school. I felt kinda bad; I mean we were a big school at the time, but I kinda know a lot of the people, even younger classes since I helped out with band for a couple of years afterwards under the late Don Isbell (Band Director). Iʻm racking my brain as I head back to the studio.
As I go up to say hello, Auliʻi greets me like Iʻve known her for awhile. Sheʻs not uncomfortable or shy at all. A big smile and a big hug. When I turned to say hello to Puanani, I suddenly asked her what her maiden name was; she said it was Freitas…then I said “ooooohhhhhh”! Both of us are products of Konawaena High School, but she is obviously younger than me 😉 My sister graduated one year before Puanani.
Freitas family is a large family in South Kona; there were 7 of the brothers and sisters in her family. The Freitas family is well known in Kona also because somewhere in her family tree there are entertainers (The Freitas Brothers – Robert, Melvin & Delbert…Delbert I went school with). While I was talking with her a light bulb went off in the head; Lacy Deniz is also from South Kona! Just as I thought this, she came around the corner. I introduced them and immediately the conversation went into “Eh I know your family!!” For the next 15 minutes, the world melted away and we were all back home searching our heads for places and names that were common to all of us with Auliʻi just staring at us and laughing. It was a wonderful few moments that people that come from a common place get to share, something we all laugh at here in Hawaii.
Auliʻi looks to be a wonderful upbeat and intelligent young woman, whose Mom makes sure sheʻs grounded. Sheʻs not afraid to engage people and talk story. She looks you in the eye when she talks to you. Sheʻs not afraid to laugh out loud. I smile…Iʻm ecstatic that the world will meet a young, confident Hawaiian woman who will share aloha with whomever she comes into contact with. I hope that will resonate into a positive energy and role model for younger ones.