One of the things that makes Thurston County such a great place is the vast array of talent that emerges from the area. The creative, bright, driven people who take their passion to impressive places are of no shortage here, and we have highlighted many of these people in past stories.
Neighbors have not been the only ones to notice some of these individuals; TV shows have taken interest in them and their talents, too. Here, we catch up with a handful of Thurston County television stars we have profiled in the past to see where their passion has taken them recently.
1. Ethan Tucker
In October of 2016, we wrote about Ethan Tucker’s premier on NBC’s The Voice, where he wowed audiences (and judges) with his singing and songwriting, and his down-to-earth spirit. While he did not make the final cut, Ethan shares that it was a period of growth for him professionally and personally.
“The Voice was a great learning experience for me. I definitely have grown as far as my understanding of how to be a better vocalist and a performer. I have also learned a lot about how the entertainment industry operates and how things work behind the scenes,” he says.
“One of my favorite things, I would say, was being around so many personality types with the other contestants,” he continues. “There were people from so many different backgrounds that it often led to hilarious instances of laughter and even some sentimental moments connecting with so many people on a deep level.”
Ethan has been playing guitar on stage since he was 16; however, ten years later, when on The Voice, the 26-year-old Olympia crooner said he felt like it was his first time on the stage. Ethan belted out his reggae-infused, soulful rendition of The Police’s “Roxanne” and won over a national audience.
What advice would Ethan offer someone who hopes to showcase their talent or passion on TV?
“I would say to be ready for a lot of work and to prepare ahead of time. Take the opportunity to showcase your craft in a serious fashion and don’t forget to breathe and have some fun.”
“As always, I truly appreciate the continued support from my core, local base of fans and friends as well as the continually growing groups of fans around the world,” Ethan says.
2. Mareko Maumasi
Back in July of 2015, we profiled local bladesmith, Mareko Maumasi, to showcase his craft and let readers know about his appearance on History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” a reality competition that puts bladesmiths to the test.
Mareko had an excellent time competing, and while a few folks reached out because of the show, he says he never really saw a spike in interest in his business, Maumasi Fire Arts, but that does not mean he came away empty-handed.
Because Mareko comes from a culinary background, his handcrafted knives are designed more for efficiency in the kitchen than battle on the field, a distinct difference between him and many of the competitors on the show. Where Mareko’s custom blades can take 32-40 hours to complete, the show allotted only six hours to create a performance blade.
“For me more than anything it was personal challenge,” he shares. “While it’s competitive under the clock, you are in a strange environment, and there are other competitors. Ultimately, you’re competing against yourself – what are you really capable of when the clock is ticking over your head? It really surprised me to see how much I could get done in that time.”
Aside from personal growth, what has been the biggest change for Mareko since his appearance on the show? “My wife and I have a six-month-old son, so that’s pretty much it,” he chuckles.
But as all parents with passion know, the work does not end when a family grows; it adapts—and that is exactly what Mareko is doing. So while he continues to create custom (gorgeous) kitchen knives, with a full year of back work, he is also building on that quick turnaround pace he practiced on the show and is ready to bring his knife-making skills to the production level.
“Eventually I will transition to a different model, more production level work,” Mareko explains. “The knives will still be well-executed, just not with all the bells and whistles my custom work has. I would like to build a style of knife that’s an extremely high-level but still will allow people to invest in something that lasts a long time. If these are properly cleaned and stored they will last at least 100 years.”
Mareko is also eager to speed up production to help fulfill his dream of offering apprenticeship and workshop opportunities to the public. Mareko’s knives have been recently been featured on the international YouTube cooking sensation, JunsKitchen. His popularity continues to rise among industry pros.
3. Rachel Young
In October 2013, Rachel Young appeared on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and walked away runner-up of the Season 9, Episode 6 “L.A. Bridal Bash.” Since then and following the article we published about her successes, Rachel and her business, Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes, have experienced a lot of growth.
“When I reflect on the last few years, I am filled with gratitude for the people who have helped me grow, the support the community has shown me, and for the lessons I’ve learned along the way,” she shares. “I’m excited about partnerships that have been cultivated, such as Elle’s Floral Design and Macarons by Mel. But most of all, I’m excited about where Miss Moffett’s is heading.”
Rachel says people can expect to see a lot more of Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes as she has a vision to franchise the business as well as expand into large-scale, wholesale distribution and even publish a book. “The sky is the limit. I have always seen this business as a national company and a household name,” she says.
As far as her experience on the show, Rachel says she learned to trust the process and let things unfold as they are meant to.
“I believe there are no mistakes, and what appear to be losses and failures at the time are actually molding and shaping us into the people we are becoming, and it’s all part of our individual paths. When I was runner-up on Cupcake Wars, I left L.A. feeling devastated that I didn’t win. But now, looking back at how much I have been blessed with by being on the show, it seems to me that everything has played out perfectly as it still is.”
Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes, baked from scratch, are available in original recipes, gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free, as well as special order custom cakes. You can find cupcakes at their flagship location downtown Olympia location by the Olympia Farmers Market, inside the Capital Mall, or inside Elle’s Floral Design in Lacey. They also wholesale at the Eastside Co-op, the Biscuit House in Tacoma, and at The Station Coffee Bar & Bistro in Centralia. Visit Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes online for more information.
4. Ronelle Funk
After being voted #1 in customer service in a five-state region by Allstate Insurance, local agent Ronelle Funk, was selected to contribute her expertise in one-minute spots during several episodes of the popular show, Treehouse Masters. We wrote about her experience on the show back in 2015 and wanted to know what has changed since her days of filming with quirky host, Pete Nelson.
“Since I filmed the show, I took over my dad’s agency in Lacey,” she shares. “Both of my agencies (Lacey and Yelm) are in the top 1% in the nation of Allstate agencies and have been nominated as Best of South Sound and Best of Nisqually several years in a row. It was really fun being on the show, and I still get customers or long lost relatives that see me on the show and send me messages. I actually re-connected with a childhood friend due to being on the show.”
Ronelle says it was a memorable time of her life, and she is very glad she got to participate.
“It was a really great experience to go to Tree House Point – which is in our back yard in Falls City – and see how filming worked for a television show. They have a huge boom camera that could reach about 50 feet, so we looked like we were in the forest alone, but we were still being filmed.”
“It was also nice to see that Pete’s TV personality is his real personality,” she continues. “He is full of energy, funny and very nice to everyone. I asked him if he was hoping to get picked up for another season of Treehouse Masters, and he said that the show was just a means to an end because his real love is building treehouses.”