Reyn Doi Delivers
Life is a blast these days for actor Reyn Doi, who plays the fun-loving Yoyo in the just-released flick “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.”
He’s just a boy, but 12-year-old Reyn Doi of Mānoa stole the show with his breakout role as Yoyo in the new film Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.
From the opening scene, where he rides a bicycle through a neighborhood delivering newspapers while belting out the lyrics to Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb’s Guilty, to the very end, he’s memorable, charming and straight-up adorable, even as a villain.
“It was so fun,” he says. “I had a blast. Being able to work with Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo and other different actors … I feel that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Doi was able to see the film a couple of times before it was released last Friday, and admits he was “laughing really hard” throughout.
Wiig and Mumolo co-star and co-wrote the screenplay for the movie (they also wrote Bridesmaids), which is about two best friends who leave their small Midwestern town for the first time to go on a dream Floridian vacation filled with adventure, romance and, of course, an evil villain who wants to kill everyone.
It was Doi’s first feature film, and one that he’ll forever cherish. Filming took place in various locations throughout the summer of 2019, including in Mexico.
“One highlight (of this experience) would be the opening bike riding scene because that was my final day of shooting, and my mom got sick that day and she had to go to the hospital,” shares Doi. “I was nervous and worried because she’s my support system, but I come to set and Kristen was there and she motivated me and complimented me and lifted my spirits up. I was able to get through that day with her by my side and I’m so thankful for her.
“ After we wrapped shooting, Kristen, Annie, Josh (Greenbaum) the director and the producer, gifted me a beautiful bracelet and I’ll forever keep that in my heart. Luckily, my mom was OK, and that’s such a memorable scene and day for me.”
Doi, who was born and raised in Hawai‘i, attended Hanahau‘oli School in Makiki until moving to Los Angeles last summer with his mom and two dogs — Cooper, a Lhasa apso adopted from a shelter in Hawai‘i, and Bambi, a Chihuahua-Shih Tzu mix.
He only started acting just a few years ago, but was recognized for his stage presence much earlier.
“When I was 4 years old, I was attending Central Union Preschool and I was an emcee for my class performance,” he recalls. “After our performance ended, everyone came up to me or complimented me that I did a good job being the emcee and sort of being the one representing my class.
“I didn’t really like sports. I was not into sports at the time and even now, and I wanted to sort of pursue acting or something related to acting.”
Eventually, when Doi was 9, he attended a workshop in L.A., went to his first audition (a commercial for Sonos speakers) which he booked, and officially entered showbiz.
Since then, he’s appeared in commercials for Jack in the Box, eBay and Feisty Pets, landed his first television role in Showtime’s Kidding with Jim Carrey, and was seen in the short film Speak Easy, B, and TV series S.W.A.T. and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. (You can view his commercials on his YouTube page.)
He recently finished filming a Nickelodeon show as a guest star, is waiting to start filming for another Nickelodeon show which he has a guest star recurring role in, and has an ABC project coming up that he can’t quite talk about yet.
“My favorite thing (about acting) would definitely be the different opportunities that are given to you,” says Doi. “Acting motivates me to work harder and it balances my school work and acting, so I don’t just focus on school. I do work hard on my school work, but I also work hard with my other passion which is acting. And I also get to meet different people in the industry like managers and agents and other actors who are very kind and you get to grow relationships with them. I think that’s the most enjoyable thing with acting.”
Among the relationships he’s made is with comedy queen Wiig, who has become his favorite actress.
“After working with her, I’ve seen how professional she is and how focused she is,” he explains, noting Bridesmaids is his favorite comedy and Hachi as his favorite drama. “As a person, she’s so nice and kind. I just feel she’s a really great actor but she’s an amazing person as well.
“When I was going back from set to L.A., I was on the plane with Kristen… and this elderly woman was boarding the plane and she was trying to get her luggage into the overhead bin but she couldn’t because it was really heavy. Kristen stepped up and she started helping her. Me and my mom were just sitting there and we were so touched by Kristen’s actions.”
Doi also plays the violin and guitar, speaks Japanese, and enjoys singing and dancing. When he’s not busy acting or studying, you might find him shopping (his favorite stores include Zara, True Religion and Uniqlo), eating (he likes dim sum, Korean barbecue and sushi) or going to the beach, which is among the things he misses most about Hawai‘i.
“I have a really, really good friend from my school (in Hawai‘i) and I go Boogie boarding with him a lot when I go back,” says Doi, noting he usually returns to the island during Thanksgiving or in the summer to visit family. “Another favorite memory would be getting delicious shave ice (at Shimazu in Kapahulu) or other local foods like li hing mui pineapple or shrimp. Also, Kua‘Āina burgers, I will always eat that when I go back, and Japanese food at the izakaya restaurant.”
As Doi continues to live his dream as an actor, he says there are still more goals on his list, such as getting a lead role in a film and becoming an entrepreneur.
“A dream of mine was always to own a restaurant and other businesses,” he says. “I always tell my mom we should do a restaurant together and you can be the chef or you don’t need to be the chef but we can own it together. It would have to be a specific cuisine or culture and it would be Japanese because I want to incorporate my culture to the people.”
Whether it’s Hollywood or business — or both — there’s no doubt that Doi can deliver a star-quality performance that will have people begging for more.