Local 'Gilmore' Girl's Anonymous Fame
Norman Lee - firstname.lastname@example.org
She can't walk down the streets of Los Angeles without being stopped by one of her fans, yet people barely notice her when she returns home to Hawaii.
That local anonymity may finally change for Mid Pacific Institute graduate Keiko Agena, who recently wrapped her fifth season as student Lane Kim on the television series "Gilmore Girls."
When asked why she isn't as widely recognized in her home state than in L.A., Agena replied with a laugh, "I think it's because 'Gilmore Girls' is opposite of 'American Idol.' "
Agena left the islands at age 17 to study drama at Whitman College in Washington state. She decided to visit Los Angeles during the summer of her freshman year and never looked back.
Her first break came when she snagged a guest spot on the television series "Renegade." She then went on to guest-star on a number of shows, including "ER" and "Beverly Hills 90210." When she auditioned for "Gilmore Girls," she was not aware the character was a high school teenager. Agena was 26 years old at the time.
"How did that happen?" Agena said. "I have no idea. I went to the audition, I read the script and I went 'Oh, really? Sixteen huh?'"
Agena, now 31, said she makes it a point to return to Hawaii at least once a year. Although life in the fast lane is a speed that fits her high-energy personality, Agena said Hawaii is where her heart lies.
"There's nothing like living in Hawaii and everybody is so friendly and will say 'hi' to you when you walk by," she said with a sigh. "And I know that's such a little thing, but there's a sense of ease here."
Family dominates most of her time during her visits home. As one of four girls, Agena said unlike her sisters, she is not your typical "local girl." Then again, Agena added with a grin, she is not a true "Hollywood girl" either.
"My sisters will tell you this," Agena said. "I never totally fit in here. They'll tease me about that. So I don't know. I'm a Pacific Ocean girl, I'm stuck in-between."
Agena admitted she has not done much acting work in Hawaii. However, if the local film industry continues to grow as it has in recent years, she said there may be opportunities for her to work at home.
"I really hope that's the case," Agena said. "I think it's going in that direction and I'm all for it because if I could live here and work here, I would be thrilled to the moon."
By reaching the 100th episode mark, "Gilmore Girls" celebrated a significant achievement for a television series. However, history shows this is also the point when a series begins to become a bit stale. At times, that can prompt the show's writers to "jump the shark," or insert an over-the-top plot twist that usually spells desperation and doom for a television series.
"When the kids go off to college, that's when the storylines get a little weird, right?" Agena said. "That's when I was most nervous." She paused. "But the writers on the show, I think they've done a very good show and I'm so pleased with where they've taken it."
Agena does think about life after "Gilmore," saying she would pursue other television series or film roles.
For now, Agena is simply content to spend time with her family and friends and enjoy life back in the islands. Eventually the time will come to return to Los Angeles and bid 'aloha' to her home in paradise.
"Always, always breaks my heart," she said softly. She adjusted her glasses, looked toward Diamond Head and smiled.