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Lifestyle // Old Friends
Nicole Kato

Darah Dung

Darah Dung’s parents refer to her as their Chinese New Year baby because she was born on Chinese New Year in the Year of the Rooster. It seems that it was written in the stars that Dung would become the first person to earn the titles of Miss Chinatown Hawaii (2003), Miss Chinatown USA (2003) and Narcissus Queen (2005).

Dung was featured on MidWeek‘s cover for the first time July 9, 2003, after she was crowned Miss Chinatown Hawaii. Shortly thereafter, she went on to compete with women representing Chinatowns from across the nation at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and was honored to bring home the national title of Miss Chinatown USA.

On Feb. 16, 2005, the Year of the Rooster, she was featured on our cover once again after she was crowned the 56th Narcissus Queen. During her year of service, Dung was fortunate to travel to China to represent Hawaii, and was able to meet with ambassadors, delegates and the prime minister of Taipei. While in China, she was given the opportunity to visit the home her great-grandmother grew up in – Namlong Sun Tin Di village -where a few of her family members still reside.

“Going there, it was still uncertain if we were at the correct residence,” Dung admits. “We arrived and walked down a dirt path to a house with the address that said ’1.’ It wasn’t until I heard my Aunty Pat calling my name from inside that I ran into the house, and she had a photo album with pictures of our family that were taken at my great-grandmother’s 104th birthday.

“My eyes filled with tears as we couldn’t believe we were meeting our family who lived across the world.”

As Dung and her family left, she said to her mother, “Even if we go home tomorrow, this will still be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”

Since then, she has continued to pursue fashion, print and commercial modeling, and also has acted in Fifty First Dates, North Shore and Hawaii Five-0. Currently, Dung appears as the on-camera host of Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s The Green Channel.

“I grew up recycling,” says Dung, noting that her childhood spurred her passion for saving the planet. “My parents started the recycling programs at Noelani Elementary School and Stevenson Intermediate School … it made communities cognizant of the importance of preserving our resources.

She always has had a love for musical theater and was bit by the theatre bug when she joined the casts of Flower Drum Song, The Producers and most recently Lisa Matsumoto’s The Princess and the Iso Peanut, where she and her real-life Chinese sisters Denby and Dana-Li played Filipino sisters Princess Lumpia, Princess Adobo and Princess Bagoong.

Along with her theatrical aspirations, Dung loves to sing, following in the footsteps of her opera singer mom, who is her vocal coach.

She and her family are animal lovers and foster for Oahu SPCA, and have adopted five rescue dogs of their own.

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