how actor stephen hill is living aloha

Michelle Liu
July 05, 2024
lifestyle

Stephen Hill had just two days to settle into Hawaii before starting work on Magnum P.I. The actor had never been to Honolulu before and ended up rooming with co-stars Jay Hernandez and Zachary Knighton for a few weeks. Hill’s Magnum ohana became the first members of his growing community in Hawaii.


Behind-the-scenes of Magnum P.I. Photo courtesy Stephen Hill

“We’d go from set to Kakaako and Ward Village, just ziplining from apartment to apartment,” says Hill, who now lives in Waikiki. “We grew close and got to know each other.”

Hill portrayed Theodore “T.C.” Calvin, a helicopter pilot, on the show. Hill describes Calvin as a hero – he fosters a homeless teen, coaches youth football and baseball teams, and he’s there whenever Magnum needs a favor that requires an eye in the sky.

As it turns out, Hill isn’t that different from his character. He took a young fan under his wing after learning the teen’s dad was on his 16th tour in Afghanistan and the teen was failing in school.

“It started with a promise: If you get your grades up – I’ll get you cast as an extra on Magnum. I started mentoring him, making sure I was available for a phone call, going to the movies,” says Hill. “He went from straight F’s to straight A’s. And he ended up being an extra. It’s one of my proudest moments of giving back.”


Hill reading to kids for Read Across America. Photo courtesy Stephen Hill.

Since moving to Hawaii, Hill has made it his mission to volunteer around Oahu. He’s participated in toy drives, handed out food on Thanksgiving, and marched in parades.

“We don’t know how long we have to live on this earth, so why wait?” says Hill. “If Hawaii is the last place I’m ever going to be, I’d like to be remembered as someone who always volunteered and got involved.”

When he’s not volunteering, Hill is supporting members of the community in different ways. He took up tennis when he moved to Honolulu and sought out lessons from Rusty Komori, who coached Punahou School’s boys varsity tennis team to 22 consecutive state championships. They became close friends and Hill wrote an excerpt for Komori’s latest book, Superior.


Hill with Rusty Komori on the tennis court. Photo courtesy Stephen Hill

Hill is also a big fan of the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team – mostly because he relates to them.

“At the beginning, I think those guys were like, ‘why is this guy so supportive of us?’” Hill says with a laugh. “I have a kindred spirit to those players. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to the NBA, but they’re on a stage where they’re getting recognized by doing what they love. It’s similar to where I’m in my life right now; there’s just no guarantee.”

In the meantime, Hill is focusing on different forms of art other than acting. He’s known for taking photos around Oahu and took part in an art show at the Downtown Art Center in Chinatown this past February.

“When you’re an actor, the attention is often on you,” says Hill. “I love that photos make you see other things and make you get outside of yourself.”

Hill posts his photography on his social media accounts, which are also filled with posts about his volunteer work, pictures from set, and people in the community. He hopes his photos will inspire the public, but especially other actors and artists. 

“The power we have in this business is our kindness to each other, how we choose to support and highlight each other,” says Hill. “A lot of us don’t have the power to greenlight a project; we don’t have millions of dollars to put a film together. But we can use our platforms to elevate others and show each other love.”

Hero photo by Rae Huo

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