They lined up outside Diane’s Hallmark Store in Pinetop, Arizona, on Saturday, August 30th, to see George Takai. He popped into our lives on the Star Trek series decades ago as one of the main characters. The acting profession has been good to him and he is returning the favor to the world by being an advocate for the rights of others.
The line was growing before one PM and he was already seated in the store with a table in front of him and some post card like photos to sign. He smiled into cameras for the fans who wanted to keep the memory of sitting next to him last. Perhaps to show those who were not able to make it to the event a, “Look who I met moment,” in their lives.
I walked into Diane’s Hallmark hoping to get a few words with George about his documentary, “To Be Takai,” and chat about living in Show Low, Arizona. Some of the locals have said that they’ve seen him shopping in the area. They get excited when that happens. I introduced myself to Brad, his husband, who stood by the side as he watched over the event. “Can I take some pictures of him?” I asked. He thought I should ask Diane and when I did she said I should ask Brad. It was that kind of an event.
I took some pictures while Diane and Brad were talking to each other as they had the same infectious joy that George emanated. The line moved and his fans sat next to him each waiting their turn, and every time someone sat in the chair he gave them his complete attention. For the moments the fan sat in the chair, he was theirs. It was as if he was not focused on himself, even though he was there to promote his film. And it was also as if he couldn’t help himself in his genuine interest to what each person said to him; like a mentor, or a father, or maybe a good friend.
His life started in California and then in Arizona when the world was at war with Japan and he along with his family were placed in an internment camp in Joseph City. The memory of barbed wire fence takes away his glowing expression and his eyes cast downward while talking about it on the trailer of, “To Be Takai.”
This is a man with a recognizable face that has been imprinted all over the world. The core of Takai is about change and acceptance, whether it's traveling to other planets or sharing the way we love.