A Role Model For Local Talent
It’s a dream come true for Dawn Larson-Lord, as she launches Larson Talent, an agency for actors, models, makeup artists and hairstylists statewide
After spending about five years away from Hawaii, local girl Dawn Larson-Lord, a 1989 graduate of Iolani School, has returned home to pursue her dream of making other people’s dreams come true, particularly models and actors.
With the full support of her family — husband Christopher Lord, 14-year-old daughter Casera and 12-year-old son Kaziah — Larson-Lord started Larson Talent about a year-and-a-half ago and has gained name recognition quickly in the industry. Her models (both experienced and new) have been booking jobs consistently, including work with Disney Aulani, Pottery Barn, 33 Butterflies, a commercial for Mauna Loa chocolate and Adidas Neo, magazine covers and fashion spreads for Queens’ Marketplace and Kings’ Shops on the Big Island, and more.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” says Larson-Lord, who was born and raised in Aiea, and currently resides in Kaimuki. “I just love what I do. I get excited when I find people (such as 19-year-old Naz Kawakami whom she spotted at a Kaimuki store and at his first audition was hired for an international commercial). It’s exciting when they get booked and when I see them in commercials or ads.”
Larson-Lord discovered her passion behind the camera while working in front of the camera. A former flight attendant for Aloha Airlines, at age 19 she was approached by a passenger to perform at shows in Waikiki and to audition for a commercial for Wet Seal. She was hired for both, and that would be the start of her modeling career, signing with Amos Kotomori, followed by ADR and then briefly with Kathy Muller.
She’s appeared in TV shows Wind on Water and Baywatch; in commercials for Bank of Hawaii, Hawaii Visitors Bureau, Ward Centre, Island Escapes, Times Supermarkets, Panasonic and Hawaiian Sun; and countless print ads. However, she soon realized she wanted to be a casting director instead and eventually quit Aloha after four years to be an intern at Anna Fishburn Casting, and later became a booking agent at ADR Agency. She also sought guidance from and built relationships with various industry leaders, including glamour photographer Russell Tanoue, and pageant directors Eric Chandler and Takeo Kobayashi, whom she met while participating in pageants and with whom she traveled to Japan and China. She’s held the titles of Miss Hula Bowl, Miss Koko Marina and Miss Honolulu, and was first runner-up in the Miss Hawaii USA pageant twice.
She then got married, and her husband, a graphic designer and wine specialist, was offered a job on Maui, where they lived for a few years before relocating to Paso Robles, Calif., where she found work as an event coordinator at a winery. She also was busy raising their two children, and in her free time would find jobs for some of the models she kept in touch with. It was her true passion, and when they moved back to Hawaii, first to the Big Island and then Oahu, she decided it was time to make her dream a reality.
“My family is making a sacrifice right now because I’m not making as much money as I used to or can be, but they know that this is what I want to do, and they want me to do good,” she says. “I’m getting older, so it was now or never. It was hard in the beginning because a lot of the companies don’t know that I exist. We don’t even have comp cards (for our models) or a website yet, but when people give us a chance, we book.”
Her advice to aspiring models and actors is to not give up and to become good at your trade. “Become like a sponge and absorb as much as you can,” she says. “Learn as much as you can, and get yourself out there.”
Larson-Lord also plans to expand her agency to be a one-stop shop representing not just models and actors, but also makeup artists, hairstylists, wardrobe stylists, entertainers and photographers. She’s continually seeking new faces statewide, and acting skills are a plus. Men, women and children of all ages are welcome. Email a few photos of yourself, including your height, measurements and skills (such as speaking a different language, talent, sports, etc.) to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit her Facebook page at larsontalent.