Kamakani De Dely is a interesting juxtaposition of several creative talents. A highly-trained unexploded ordnance technician, special effects make-up artist and Hawaiian weapons craftsman, De Dely really is one of a kind.
“Hawaii Five-0” viewers will recognize him as the desk guard in “Pono Kaulike” (“Justice for All”), which replayed this week on CBS. His scene was at the start of the episode; his character keeps McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) from seeing Danny (Scott Caan) in the Federal Detention Center.
I met with De Dely in July and was pleased to not only learn about his experience working with O’Loughlin during season five, but that he also worked on other episodes. He auditioned several times, and while his role as Pono Kaulike was his first speaking part, he was also an extra in the epic Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) vs. Kaleo (Jason Scott Lee) fight scene from season three’s “ʻŌlelo Hoʻopaʻi Make” (“Death Sentence”).
De Dely has also been involved in other ways. He was a stand-in for actor Matt Gerald, who played a prison guard in “ʻŌlelo Hoʻopaʻi Make,” and he crafted all of the Hawaiian leiomano (shark-tooth weapons) used in season two’s “Kūpale” (“Defender”).
Despite his many talents, however, the one role he was most qualified for, he didn’t get.
“I actually auditioned for the role of the EOD soldier in ‘I Ka Wā Mamua’ but never got it,” said De Dely. “I did explain to (casting director) Rachel Sutton exactly how terrorist IED bomb vests are made and what types of explosives are used to make them.
“There was about three pages of dialogue in the scene and while I was reading through it, I noticed they had incorrect information. So I wanted to make sure it was right. They later used my info for that episode where McGarrett explains to Danny about the explosives and how they work.
“I did my homework for that part and really shot for it, since I do that as my day job. So I was crushed when I didn’t get it. But I kept working for a part, so when I booked Pono Kaulike I was excited and terrified. My parents grew up with the (original) show and they loved it. They have always backed me as far as being an actor, so they were so happy when I got it.”
A graduate of Waiʻanae High School, De Dely grew up in Makaha and graduated from Texas A&M’s Unexploded Ordnance program. He currently is a contractor and works with Oʻahu and mainland companies, as well as the military, as a bomb disposal technician. As an actor he is represented by ADR Agency and has trained with Scott Rogers in Hawaii, as well as with Stuart Rogers at the Theater Tribe in Los Angeles.
De Dely was also in the pilot of “Last Resort” and in the movies “Battleship” and “Windtalkers,” which were all filmed in Hawaii.
He was quick to talk about how well he was treated on set, especially by series star O’Loughlin.
“Everyone was so amazing. I wanted to talk to Alex before our scene, just to break the ice, but I didn’t get to because he was filming another scene,” he said. “But I thought that would be a cool set up for our scene, since it would be as if we don’t really know each other. After we filmed a couple of times, he came up to me and said, ‘Hey, aloha,’ and introduced himself.”
For his part, De Dely looked into why his character was keeping McGarrett from seeing his friend.
“I tried to do my homework … is he happy, is he irritated? So I came in being brash with McGarrett, because I know he is my superior and I don’t want to tell him off, but I have to keep him from getting into my office,” he said.
We talked a lot about acting and his art and how much he loves being creative. He also spoke about the show renting several of his Hawaiian weapons.
“When they are laying them on the tarp in the episode, those are all my weapons,” said De Dely. “It’s always an honor when people enjoy my work. For one thing, I’m Hawaiian born and raised and I enjoy learning about my culture, so I’m just glad when people want to use my art.”
He does special effects as well, making prosthetics for masks and other make-up effects. He worked at special effects company Renegade Effects when he lived in Los Angeles and hopes to open Oncefound FX in Kapolei, a special effects supply store.
“It would be really focused on art, so folks can make their own molds and make-up prosthetics and have all the tools to do their own special effects props and work right here in Hawaii,” said De Dely.
As an artist, De Dely is a physical representation of his own art, his arms covered with tattoos. One arm features a collage of Pumpkin King Jack Skellington imagery and his other is covered with a “Dumbledore’s Army” logo as well as small image of Hogwarts, Hedwig and Harry Potter himself.
“I got my Harry Potter tattoos to represent friendship, loyalty and sticking to your beliefs,” he said.
Besides the whimsical tattoos that really represent his creative artistic side, De Dely also has the names of friends who died while doing bomb disposal work at the Waikele Bunkers in 2011 tattooed on his shoulders.
Follow De Dely on Instagram to see more of his artwork and pictures from the set of “Hawaii Five-0.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.