An only child, Momoa was born on August 1, 1979, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Coni (Lemke), a photographer, and Joseph Momoa, a painter. His father is Native Hawaiian, while his mother is of German, Irish, and Pawnee ancestry. Shortly after his birth, his parents divorced and he and his mother moved to Norwalk, Iowa, where he was raised. He graduated from Norwalk High School where he was part of the soccer team alongside Brandon Routh. He attended the University of Hawaii . Japanese-born American international fashion designer Takeo Kobayashi discovered Momoa, then aged 19, and encouraged him to pursue a modeling career. Momoa left the university and worked briefly in that industry before landing his first acting role, as a young lifeguard in the television series Baywatch: Hawaii. In addition to acting, Momoa was active in environmental and philanthropic circles. He founded Mananalu, a company that packages water in aluminum cans and advocates for and contributes its profits to recycling plastic and removing plastic pollution from the oceans. Jason Mamoa is proud of his native heritage and talks about it every chance he gets, whether it’s in front of the camera or on the red carpet. He is deeply involved in protecting his native land.