Catch him if you can
By CAROL CHANG
If you can slow down Cody Mafatu Easterbrook for a few minutes to chat, then you’re in for a treat. Better yet, lasso him and strap him to a chair. He’s a jumper and a leaper when aroused. Not to mention what he can do with his eyebrows.
The O’ahu actor, model, TV personality, teacher, blogger, emcee, improv talent, photographer, brand pitchman, world traveler, on-air host and all-round clown doesn’t stay put for long.
Fortunately, MidWeek convinced him to pump the brakes just long enough to share his latest adventures with our readers.
Motto No. 1: “If it scares you to death, it’s totally worth doing!”
Easterbrook is on a high right now, figuratively speaking. By phone from Mexico, he reports that he just wrapped up filming a crazy, action-packed travel piece in Cabo and had just packed his tuxedo to fly to the Daytime Emmy Awards presentation in Los Angeles.
He currently co-stars as the “craft-tip” host in NBC’s The Big Fun Crafty Show, a Universal Kids Network (formerly Sprouts) program nominated in its first season for a 2018 Daytime Emmy.
“I’m super stoked about the recognition,” he says, “and glad to be part of the cast.”
(Winners in dozens of categories were announced May 5 by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at Pasadena Civic Center. Powerhouse Sesame Street ultimately beat The Big Fun Crafty Show for Best Pre-school Children’s Series.)
Easterbrook, 37, shares the show’s Toronto studio gig with host Carly Ciarrocchi and lots of energetic, creative kids.
The weekly contest pits three teams against each other as they race to build the best art project out of random objects in a set amount of time.
“Ah, glitter,” he says of a favored ingredient of the teams. “It’s the crafting tool that never goes away — on screen or off!”
Not only is the show a whole bunch of fun, he adds, it allows him to reach and teach children all over the world.
Motto No. 2: “Find joy in the little things, then you will be content for life.”
Producers saw his big personality and improv skills as a perfect fit for the craft-host role, and Hawai’i fans can watch him prove it weekdays on UKN via local cable channels on demand.
“I help them imagine wonderful, fanciful things; I inspire creativity in the kids,” he says, recalling his own childhood treehouse that became a stage for many a Cody showcase.
The gift of a video camera from his dad, Bernie, inspired him to create early hits like The Alien Hand, The Madagascar Monkey and the un-forgettable Detective Fatso.
“It’s something that the youngest of six kids had to do,” he admits. “I learned pretty quickly how to get attention and not be left behind.”
In what he says was “an incredible three-and-a-half-year run” as an adult, he taught part-time from 2011 to 2014 at Kahalu’u Elementary School.
Then-principal Naomi Matsuzaki readily recalls him as an enthusiastic teacher who also had lots of irons in the fire beyond the classroom. Easterbrook says she encouraged artistic creativity in him and in the students, and he’s forever grateful. Maybe you shouldn’t ask him about the wild field trip to Waikīkī Aquarium, though.
Easterbrook himself was homeschooled until the family moved to Friendswood, Texas, near Houston. The teenage ham attended a theater magnet high school there (Class of 2000) and won awards for excellence in broadcasting and reporting via the school’s own cable channel.
Fast-forward to Lā’ie, where he enrolled at BYU-Hawai’i, wrote for its newspaper, joined three of its cultural clubs, and graduated with honors in International Culture Studies and Communication.
But show business was always calling, and he realized he wanted to do it all, not just report on what others were doing. “My personality is too big for the news,” he declares.
Being part Samoan and Hawaiian on his mom’s side, he learned to dance well enough for the canoe pageants at Polynesian Cultural Center and spent years as the popular venue’s lū’au emcee and tour guide.
During his church mission to Bolivia, Easterbrook also taught Cochabamba villagers to dance the hukilau, among other island skills. They, in turn, helped him become a fluent Spanish speaker.
Motto No. 3: “I want to be everything.”
He’s most proud of playing evil cowboy Luke Pakele and getting beaten up in the Kalapana lava fields by Grace Park (Kono) in a 2014 Hawai’i Five-0 episode.
“For a local kid, it was my first big break, and I realized I could make it in this industry,” Easterbrook says.
He also portrayed Ten-Second Tom on the big screen in 50 First Kisses (Sony’s 2017 answer to 50 First Dates), and Ramirez in TV’s Off the Map. He’s plugged Kaua’i as a host for KVIC, the Garden Isle’s travel channel, and made it to the final five (out of thousands of contestants worldwide) who auditioned for $100,000 and the title of Chief World Explorer for a year.
Jurassic World? You bet. Easterbrook was cast as a construction foreman on the Kualoa Ranch set, helping build a better dinosaur cage for the 2015 version of the franchise.
“Sure, I was just a speck on the screen,” he says of the role at the time, “but it was worth it to get to hang out with Chris Pratt on the set.”
An unexpected thrill was being hired as emcee for the 2014 Pele Awards gala, presented by American Advertising Federation’s local chapter.
The Broadway spectacular with a circus theme had him as ringmaster in full makeup and costume — singing, dancing and directing all kinds of antics. “I was truly in my element there,” he recalls.
Hamburgers? In a Burger King Super Bowl commercial, he munched Whoppers on a picnic date high above Eternity Beach. (“It took about 10 burgers to get it right.”) His confident baritone also can be heard in voice-over mode on local McDonald’s ads. Or you may have caught him flirting on TV with Miss Waikīkī while hanging out (and falling down) at an Aloha Gas pump. He was also a suave dude in a Lexus commercial.
TV’s popular The Price Is Right game show correctly branded him as “the classic contestant” in 2007. (“And to think I grew up on the show while eating my cereal,” he notes.) Host Bob Barker, who was about to retire, ended up chasing that jumping guy in the red aloha shirt all over the set, chuckling the whole time.
An actual adult at the time, Easterbrook spun for cash, kissed pretty ladies, hugged everyone and cartwheeled across the stage in front of the laughing crowd.
Ultimately, he won a hot tub, piano and living room set, which he recently hauled with him in his move to Kailua from Mānoa. That chaotic episode has earned more than a million views online.
Motto No. 4: “I have the rare ability to make friends with any stranger.”
The performing chameleon is at his best starring as a world traveler in his self-produced “webisodes” on You-Tube and elsewhere, solo or with friends and family. His
infectious zeal for life is obvious in reports from around the world, from Alcatraz to the Calgary Stampede, from China to Kalihi Valley. That’s where he and his mom, Sharyn Lea Easterbrook, revisited her ‘ohana’s old homestead and discovered treasured messages written by her kūpuna on a rock wall.
While skydiving, paddle boarding and blogging are favorite hobbies, the famous Easterbrook energy is also up to the task when it comes to helping others.
He hosts charity events, including an anti-bullying campaign here with RJ Mitte of Breaking Bad fame. Booking himself as an independent entertainment professional, Easterbrook also mentors local youths on how to break into show biz.
“It’s my way of giving back. There’s so much talent here — Hawai’i kids all know how to sing and dance, and they’re so hungry for knowledge. I want to let them rise to the stardom they deserve,” he says.
Easterbrook works with clients on dialogue, for example, and sets up connections with The Rock, Magnum P.I. and national feature films. He also warns them about the inevitable bouts of rejection.
To jump into his joyful journeys, get started at codyeasterbrook.com.
Oh, yeah. Then there’s the expected “girlfriend” question. Answer: No, not yet.
“I’m a pretty spontaneous person with a busy life,” he explains. “I’d be OK with it if I can find somebody to catch up with me.”