Taylor Makakoa: From Humble Beginnings
She came from humble beginnings, but today at age 26 Taylor Makakoa is president of Terry Fator Companies, as well as his onstage assistant, and she’s just getting started. She and Fator, the Las Vegas comic-ventriloquist impersonator-singer, will be in town for shows Aug. 15-16 at Hawaii Theatre
At just 26 years old, Taylor Makakoa is all business as president of Terry Fator Companies, a multimillion-dollar corporation that includes the Terry Fator show, which has generated more than $120 million in ticket sales at The Mirage in Las Vegas.
She also models, is an onstage assistant in the Terry Fator show, and serves as a volunteer spokeswoman for Heaven Can Wait Animal Society.
Born in Hawaii and raised in Las Vegas (often traveling back and forth), Makakoa continues to return to Oahu throughout the year. She’s from Kapahulu, where her family still has a home, and she also has relatives in Kailua and Papakolea. She was here just last month, and will be back again next month when Fator performs in Hawaii for the first time Aug. 15 and 16 at Hawaii Theatre.
“We used to vacation here a lot and thought, ‘Why don’t we do a show here?’” says Makakoa, who is Hawaiian and Portuguese. “He always wanted to do a show in Hawaii, specifically on Maui, so we’re thinking maybe next year.”
Makakoa auditioned for and joined the Terry Fator show as an onstage assistant in 2008 (when it was at the Las Vegas Hilton). She and Fator would go on to become a couple and married in November 2010 in Hawaii, but they announced their separation earlier this year. It was a mutual decision, and both say they remain the best of friends. Professionally, it’s business as usual.
“Everything is the same, but we’re not married,” explains Makakoa. “We still love each other and want to be friends. The only thing is we have to make sure whoever we date next accepts us.
“Right now, I plan to stay with Terry’s company for as long as he is performing and take his career as far as we can. After Terry’s career, when he’s comfortably and happily retired somewhere, I would like to own my own gym in Hawaii and in Las Vegas.
“Growing up, I always loved hula, but I couldn’t find something I was really passionate about. In school, I studied different things because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. Then, after I graduated (from UNLV), I started working out and I sort of fell in love with weightlifting, so I want to share that with people. I want to have a gym that has a lot of different options for people, maybe even hula, but focuses on weightlifting.”
Makakoa, who was homeschooled, has been dancing hula since she was 5 and modeling since she was 12. Despite being shy, she went on to become an international model with a successful career in front of the camera and on the runway.
“At 12 years old, I was 5-foot-7 and size 00, so it was real easy to do fashion runway shows,” recalls Makakoa. “Then, when I got older, my body changed and I stopped doing runway modeling and started doing things like Maxim and Playboy (she was featured in the magazine’s Becoming Attraction section).”
She also has modeled for Vogue, Frederick’s of Hollywood and CitiBank, and she was the cover girl for Kim Taylor Reece’s 2013 calendar.
Makakoa, who plans to change her last name to Koki, which is her mom Nani’s last name, has built quite a impressive resume. But life hasn’t always been so glamorous. She recalls her mom working tirelessly to support their family, including her dad and older sister Summer.
“Growing up we were really poor — we didn’t have enough for food sometimes,” she remembers. “My mom worked three jobs and she was exhausted. She would tell us, ‘Get your education, don’t be like me.’
“We’re very close. We lived in a small house and we shared a room. We didn’t even have a bed, so we slept on the floor. We were always together. And now, I’m at a place where I can take care of her.”
With her recent divorce, Makakoa says it’s the beginning of a new chapter of her life. She admits she’s never been alone before (she lives by herself) and is scared about that. But she does have her three dogs — a German shepherd, a mutt and a Molosser.
She also has many hobbies, including dancing hula, archery, watching MMA, weight training and working on her Tacoma truck, which is lifted 6 inches. “I’m definitely a tomboy,” she says.
She also is obsessed with lifesize Jenga and enjoys playing the one at Gold Spike in Downtown Las Vegas. When she’s in Hawaii, she enjoys eating and going to the beach, as well as hanging out at Ko Olina and Kani Ka Pila Grille in the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort.
“I like to go to Young’s Fish Market and Ono’s for Hawaiian food, and Boots and Kimo’s,” she says. “And Byron’s Drive-In was my favorite. I’m still super sad about that.”
While she tries to visit as often as she can and even hopes to live in Hawaii one day soon, she says her focus right now is working out and working, including the upcoming Terry Fator show in Hawaii.
“This show is so important to all of us at the company,” says Makakoa, noting that many employees in their office are from Hawaii, including her kumu BJ and Vincent Souza of Kailiha‘o Hula.
“Hawaii is our home, so we get to come back and share what we do with Hawaii and all of our family and friends. We’ve always wanted to come back here.”
Terry Fator Performs At Hawaii Theatre Aug. 15 and 16
Terry Fator, who is the headlining act at The Mirage in Las Vegas, performs in Hawaii for the first time with two shows Aug. 15 and 16 at Hawaii Theatre.
Fator, who was the winner of Season 2 of America’s Got Talent, is known for his unique combination of singing, comedy and celebrity impressions through ventriloquism. His show at The Mirage, Terry Fator: The VOICE of Entertainment, has been running since 2009, and he’s been awarded Best All-Around Performer and Best Impressionist numerous times. In 2013, Fator was ranked No. 2 on Forbes’ list of the top-earning comedians behind Jerry Seinfeld.
“This show I’ll be performing in Honolulu is 100 percent different than the show I do in Vegas,” states Fator. “The Mirage never told me I couldn’t travel, but they did ask me why people would come see me in Vegas if I did my same show on the road. So I wrote an entirely different show that tells the story of how I got to Vegas. My road show is sort of an autobiographical, musical, epic presentation with puppets and impressions and all that stuff, so it’s really great.”
His story starts with his first job as a janitor in his hometown in Texas, practicing ventriloquism and deciding to become a professional ventriloquist. For 25 years, he performed at country fairs and venues across the country before his big win at America’s Got Talent at age 42, and then his multimillion-dollar deal with The Mirage. Other upcoming projects include a memoir, a novel, a series of children’s books and a country music CD titled It Starts Tonight.
“I hope when people come to see my show that they will leave thrilled, excited and just feeling on top of the world, inspired and wanting to pick up their hobbies again and do something with it,” says Fator. “The show is very funny. They’re going to laugh very hard, and it’s appropriate for families, so kids can come too.”
Fator, who has been to Hawaii many times, says he plans to extend his trip a couple of days on both Oahu and Maui with girlfriend Angie, who he’s been dating for a few months. He also is looking forward to taking his crew to Haleiwa Joe’s, which is his favorite restaurant on Oahu.
As for the show, he’s been learning a Hawaiian song, which will be accompanied by a dance performance by Taylor Makakoa. He also has a Hawaiian puppet named Cuz Kani Kalipa, but hasn’t yet decided if it will be included in the show.
“Taylor is the president of my company and does all the behind-the-scenes business work, and, of course, she’s my beautiful onstage assistant, so every night we have a little bit of Hawaii on stage,” he adds. “Almost all of my office staff minus a couple of people are from Hawaii as well, so we’re just very blessed to have so many Hawaiians working with us. They do a great job and I’m very much looking forward to this show. I know they’re certainly looking forward to going home to Hawaii.”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at hawaiitheatre. com or at the box office (call 528-0506). Proceeds from all merchandise sold at the show will benefit Snowball Express and Airpower Foundation.