Don Pomes

As a part of our Spotlight on Hawaii Local Members series, here is Andrea “Andy” Sikkink’s recent interview with Don Pomes. 

Tell us about why you first joined the union.

After completing a two-year stint in Korea with the U.S. Army, I became a disc jockey for a year in Charleston, West Virginia. I followed that with an apprenticeship to a summer stock theater, which enabled me to become a professional actor by getting my Actors’ Equity card, and within a year I got my SAG card. So, I have been a member of Equity 62 years and SAG for 61 years. In between, I was also a member of AFTRA when it was a separate union.

Why do you think membership is important?

I have seen the importance of performers banding together for strength and representation in dealing with producers in the “business” … and remember it’s called show business.

SAG-AFTRA has always championed the performer by establishing and strengthening wages and working conditions and benefits, two of the most important of which are pension and health.

I have been receiving a pension from Equity for about 20 years.

What are your tips for younger performers today?

First of all, if you’re serious about becoming an actor, you have to have the passion, commitment, willingness to persevere and a strong desire to constantly learn your craft.

You have to be like the Olympiad hopeful: Be on it and in it 28 hours a day. In a community such as ours in Hawaii, where roles are few and far between, it’s not easy to feel part of the business. To feel and be connected, get involved in our union business, attend all meetings — not just when there’s food — take classes and workshops, and volunteer for committees.

What is the biggest accomplishment in your career to date?

There are two:

In 1960, only two years after becoming a “professional,” I was performing at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut, with Katharine Hepburn, Robert Ryan and a cast of well-known actors of the time. Among my treasures is a handwritten note to me from Ms. Hepburn, one of Hollywood’s most famous leading ladies.

And, for a total of about four-and-a-half years out of six, I performed in the off-Broadway smash The Fantasticks. Jacqueline Kennedy came one time, with John-John (JFK Jr.) and when John-John was interviewed later and asked what he liked most about the show, he said, “The Indian” — me.
What you are currently working on?

I filmed a co-star role on Magnum P.I. recently. As the “Older Patient,” I tried to get the star of the show, actor Jay Hernandez, to empty my bedpan on the hospital set in the Kapolei studios. The episode aired April 24, 2020.

Next up, I’m scheduled to open a play called, The Father, at TAG. That schedule may change due to the pandemic.


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