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These 6 Hawai‘i Models Slay More Than Just the Runway

They’re usually seen all dolled up on runways and magazine covers, but there’s more to these Hawai‘i models than just being really, really good-looking. From saving lives and sailing around the world to slaying the competition, each of these individuals goes from model to role model. And we have the photos to prove it.


Model Citizens opener

Photos: Tommy Shih. Hair and Makeup: Kecia Littman, keciabella.com; Mariah Melanie, mariahmelanie.com, Bevin Vashti, bevinvashti.com; Steve Elias, steveelias.com; Val Anderson, iabhair.com.


The Ace

Misty Ma‘a 

Misty Ma‘a

Misty Ma‘a’s mile-long legs have helped her book many modeling gigs. But it took more than looks to make her the first Polynesian to receive a full-ride athletic scholarship to the University of Miami. Ma‘a is the product of a volleyball legacy. Her parents, Lisa Strand and Pono Ma‘a, dominated the court during their years at the University of Hawai‘i. “My first memory of volleyball was playing at Queen’s Beach until 10 p.m.,” recalls Ma‘a. “My parents and their friends were all heavily involved in the sport, so I picked up different skills from some really great players.” Which paid off. Before her collegiate career, Ma‘a lead her Kamehameha Schools team to three state championships, received the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011, and player of the year in 2011 and 2012.


Faux Grommet neon wetsuit, $210, Cynthia Rowley, Ala Moana Center, 944-5555.


The Life Saver

Momoko Metzker

Momoko Metzker

Some models love to relax by the pool and look pretty. Not Momoko Metzker. The hapa beauty, whose first assignment as a 10-year-old was modeling for a Liberty House Zooper Sale catalog, hangs out by the pool for a different purpose: to save lives. “My first day of lifeguarding I was so nervous, watching people like a hawk and holding my breath whenever someone dove underwater,” recalls Metzker. “I don’t think I ever felt my heart beat so fast.” Throughout her six years as a lifeguard at Mānoa Valley Swimming Pool, Metzker has always found value in learning about water safety and educating swimmers. Thankfully, she hasn’t encountered too many life-threatening emergencies, but that doesn’t mean she lets her guard down. “One of my students started to panic in the deep end. She was asthmatic and forgot her inhaler, so I had to swim her to the guard rail, calm her down and wait for the ambulance to come.”


Havita Embellished silk dress, $898, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ala Moana Center, 672-2840.


The Mom

Deanna Elerick 

Deanna Elerick

“Although my body may not be the same as my pre-baby body, I have learned to be confident and proud of the amazing purpose it has served,” Deanna Elerick says. For her, landing modeling jobs in Hong Kong (for Nikon), Thailand and Japan doesn’t compare to being a mom to 1-year-old Haven. “Her facial expressions are priceless and the way she copies everything people say now makes me laugh out loud.” Besides switching out her mom hat for trends of the season, the half-Samoan beauty also has plans to put her psychology degree to work. “I plan to one day open an art studio for children so they can have free range to create and express themselves, as well as providing an encouraging space to allow their mental images to come to life in whatever art medium they choose.” 


Alice and Olivia, Farrel floral-lace pencil skirt, $295, Brooke embellished-collar sweater, $395, Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center, 951-8887.


The Sailor

Austin Kino  

Austin Kino

Twenty-eight days, 2,600 miles, on a canoe, in the middle of the ocean, guided only by the sun, moon and stars. Scary, right? This was Austin Kino’s dream come true. Kino is an apprentice navigator on the Hōkūle‘a, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe that uses celestial navigation to travel the sea. After years of training, Kino and 13 other crew members made the journey from Tahiti to Hawai‘i. “When you travel on the ocean for a month using unconventional methods, and you finally see land, all your doubts disappear and you feel this huge sense of accomplishment,” says Kino. Under the direction of master navigator Nainoa Thompson, Kino learned how to identify the direction of swells, to rate speed by counting water bubbles and to measure ocean distance. “This opportunity is a chance for me to connect with the ocean and separate myself from modern distractions,” Kino says. “The best part of all is being able to represent the Hawaiian culture in different places around the world.”


18 Notch Lapel Astronomy jacket, $3,295, Poplin Medusa shirt $695, Geometric wool trousers, price upon request, Versace, Ala Moana Center, 955-6688.


The Fighter

Ocean Hay 

Ocean Hay

In just a year and a half, Ocean Hay has proven she deserves to be taken seriously as a jiu-jitsu competitor. Since she started, she’s entered four matches and made it to the podium twice, taking gold at her first white-belt match and silver in her blue-belt match. What sparked this swimsuit model’s interest in jiu jitsu? Love. “When my boyfriend, Kyle, started doing jiu jitsu, he was spending so much time training, he wasn’t hanging out with me,” Hay (laughingly) admits. “So I finally decided to give it a try and ended up loving it. I even train when I travel to Japan for modeling work.” Going to the mat for her man was Hay’s incentive for entering the sport, but, along the way, she’s learned a lot about herself and her capabilities. “Self-growth comes along with training; I’ve learned how to be more aware, respectful and confident. It’s empowering to feel that I have the ability and the technique to defend myself in any scary, unwanted situation.” She’s also coaching younger girls, instilling in them a sense of courage and security.


Wide-leg cotton pants, $1,450, Fendi, Royal Hawaiian Center, 971-5611. Iro open front vest, $640, Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center, 951-8887.


The Daredevil

Krista Alvarez

Krista Alvarez

Krista Alvarez is an adrenaline junkie. From flying down snow-covered slopes to her favorite pastime, riding dirt bikes, Alvarez has always been a tomboy searching for her next adventure. “Growing up, I was my older brother’s little brother. I did everything he did. Played with Hot Wheels, listened to Snoop Dogg, wore Nike Cortes with a Georgetown University hoody, and he taught me to ride street bikes when I was 16.” As an adult, Alvarez followed her husband’s tracks and started riding dirt bikes. “My first go on a dirt bike was a lot slower than my first time on a street bike, especially when the bike kept tipping over because I couldn’t reach the ground.” But that just fueled Alvarez’s determination. Of course, Alvarez has gotten her share of dirty lickings from riding, but, “When you realize you are controlling the roaring engine you fly on, cutting through the air, it’s so freeing. It’s like flying!”


Iridescent lurex brocade single-breasted jacket, $7,300, Gucci, 2118 Kalākaua Ave., 921-1000.


Join us at HONOLULU Fashion Week, a three-day event spanning Nov. 10, 11 and 12 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. The event is free and open to the public. Visit honolulufashionweek.com for more details.




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Honolulu Magazine September 2020
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