Teuila Blakely: ‘One must always challenge oneself’
Teuila Blakely has never been one to stay complacent.
The stunning 41-year-old (who looks like a 21-year-old!) is always on the move thanks to an incredible work ethic and positive attitude.
An actress, screenwriter, director and soon to be author is also having a crack at Hollywood in between her already hectic schedule – forever striving to do better than her last goal.
To say that she is ‘following in the footsteps’ of her former Shortland Street buddies, Samoans Beulah Koale, Frankie Adams and KJ Apa, all who are enjoying Hollywood stints right now, would be too cliché. And wouldn’t do her justice. Because she really is more than just an actress. She is her own boss. Bosslady.
She’ll definitely give the U.S her best shot she says. And up and leave for LA within just a days notice when the casting agents call for her.
And whilst getting ready for her long flights to the U.S, you can guarantee she’ll still be working on her million other projects right up until that final boarding call. Her phone and a glass of Bellini is all she needs.
“Cracking the U.S is really just a natural progression for me,” she tells SUGA Magazine.
“I’ve never had any intention of being a big fish in a small pond and one must always keep challenging oneself in terms of pushing yourself and your expectations.”
Due to confidentiality, she cannot reveal details about any roles. But we do know that her first stop outside NBC’s Will and Grace studios ain’t bad for an actress’s first meeting. (Say hi to Karen!)
Her uplifting and positive instagram posts make it easy to see why adoring fans follow her – often inadvertently inspiring someone who could use her advice in the process.
And she couldn’t care less what you think. A unique feminist who is truly secure in herself and not afraid to defy public opinion – traits that are admirable to many – knows first hand the difficulties in finding a break in the tough world of acting.
Hollywood will be no different she says. But the single mum Samoan beauty is taking it one day at a time.
“I’ve never attached myself to outcomes. I am who I am and can only do what I do and see what happens,” she smiles.
The fiercely independent SUGA is set to release her biography in 2018. On top of that project, she dashes to and from labs to write her first major script – a movie version of her original screenplay ‘Island Girls’. We can’t wait.
And if that’s not enough to make your head spin, she’ll squeeze in the odd acting gig here and there. Like playing Malia on Filthy Rich and then maybe throw in a Woman’s Day shoot on the side.
As relaxed and optimistic as Teuila may be about Hollywood, her agent Imogen Johnson from one of New Zealand’s most reputable agencies Johnson and Laird and who helped score SUGA Frankie Adams’s role in The Expanse, says she doesn’t rule out the idea that this is a great time for Samoan actors from New Zealand coming through the Hollywood ranks.
“It’s great that the international industry is becoming more conscious about the issue of diversity,” says Ms Johnson.
“I think the New Zealand industry has actually been a leader in this area over the years so it’s nice to see Hollywood catching up to us. It’s important that the mainstream stories being told on our screens are accurately reflecting the society we live in.”
And what does Hollywood think about our actors? Move over Australia, because the Poly-Kiwi invasion is taking over.
“They love the New Zealand work ethic. Our actors are not afraid to work hard! And there’s an authenticity to Kiwis which is also part of our success internationally.
“Our actors who are currently doing well in Hollywood all had solid starts with roles in New Zealand so they are able to hit the ground running when they get to the States or Canada for those big international jobs.”
She also adds that there has been a trend in recent years which has seen ‘ethnic ambiguity’ become a bit of a casting buzzword and believes it is part of the industry’s effort to increase diversity in casting.
“But the reality is that our Kiwi actors who are doing well overseas have got there because they are great performers and hard workers.”
– Lia Sagote