When I first saw Jenn Boneza on “Hawaii Five-0,” I thought she looked so familiar — like a friend I had lost a contact with, or someone I had not seen in years.
When I spoke to her about her time working alongside Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan on “Ka ʻOiaʻiʻo Maloko” (“The Truth Within”), I realized I recognized her because she is often on television.
Boneza works at Time Warner Oceanic Cable, where she hosts “Outside Hawaii” and “Hawaiian Xtreme Sports” on OC16. She’s also a sideline reporter for OC16 Sports and even works for Surf News Network as a surf reporter.
Many of us have seen her smile light up televisions long before she played Alani the devastated sister of murder victims Kaylea Van Horn (played by Hawaii-based actress Jesiree Dizon). She has enjoyed an extensive career as a professional dancer, actress and television personality, and she was gracious enough to tell me about her experience on the “Five-0” set.
Born and raised in Kailua, Boneza attended Kamehameha Schools and has a degree in journalism from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She got her professional start dancing in the Legends in Concert show in Waikiki when it first opened and played Marisa in the surf film “Blue Crush” with Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake.
Boneza also co-starred with local actress and comedian Stephanie Sanchez in the OC16-produced television show, “The Tide is High,” in addition to numerous local commercials. She even had a small part on “Lost” as a member of the Dharma Initiative.
Her one and only line?
“I auditioned six or seven times before I read for (Alani),” said Boneza. “Usually it was for bit parts, but this was the best role I read for because if was so emotional.”
Over the course of two days, Boneza shot several scenes. One called for her to cry openly over the body of her dead sister; another was with McGarrett and Danno. She also shot a scene with a baby who played the niece who had been orphaned by her mother’s murder. Many fans can remember the scene where Danno saves the baby and comforts her after being left alone all night after her parents were killed.
“I spent a good hour playing with Olivia, getting her to warm up to me before I shot the scene with Scott at the end of the episode where he brings her the monkey,” Boneza said. “She was such a trooper, and Scott was very nice and so professional. He’s very easy to work with and a complete pro.”
She added that Alex O’Loughlin has a “larger than life personality” and was the very one to gather all the actors to play cards in between takes.
“It was nice to have some down time in between my heavy emotional scenes to just relax and hang out,” she said.
Can you imagine sitting on set and playing cards with Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, and Masi Oka? Boneza said it was fun and helped break up the tension.
“I did have time to get back into the emotion of the scene,” Boneza said. “The crew was really supportive. You could hear a pin drop when I was crying over my sister’s body.”
Boneza definitely looked like a complete pro herself.
“Any time you have to cry and bring out those types of emotion, which is really the meat of what my character has to go through because her sister and brother in law are murdered, it’s not easy,” she explained. “Thankfully, I haven’t lost anyone that way, but I imagined how I would feel if that happened to me. If you’re a mom it’s easy to cry.”
Boneza would know, since she’s married with two children. She met her husband, Greg, on the set of the independent film “Taro Roots.”
While Boneza said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the opportunity to work on “Five-0,” I think she was perfectly cast. It was nice for a Hawaii actress to not be a villain or the murder victim. Overall, she definitely held her own in a very popular season four episode that also featured fan favorite (and now series regular) Jorge Garcia. I was glad a Hawaii girl got a shot at a great role and made a lasting impression on fans.
You can follow Boneza on Facebook.
REDUX SIDE NOTE:
Friday night’s CBS broadcast was a fan favorite from season four. “O Kēlā me Kēia Manawa” (“Now and Then”) included a great guest star — Karl Makinen as Grover’s (Chi McBride) friend who is an FBI fugitive on the run — as well as guest director Peter Weller.
This episode also introduced Danno’s new love interest, Amber (Lili Simmons), and reunited Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale).
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.