'Matai' star on family, Samoa
Tupuola is the main character of the 'Matai' movie series.
The movie depicts the reality of a young paramount chief who carries the good name of his family.
He is in love with Oketi, yet she is forced by her father, the Reverend, to marry a layman preacher.
Tupuola, known as Saifuiane is the movie, is the main character.
“The audience of the Matai movie is for all ages,” said Tupuola.
Australian born, but raised all his life in Samoa, Tupuola attended Malifa Primary and St Joseph’s College. In 2005 he received a rugby scholarship for St Paul’s College and that’s when things changed for him.
Aside from acting, Tupuola is a probation officer who works in the Juvenile Prisons in New Zealand and is also a full time dancer.
Tupuola said everywhere he went, Samoans would approach him.
“The support I see firsthand for our Samoan people pushes me to do better not only in acting, but also dancing,” he said.
“I know the movie (Matai) is not Hollywood or anything, but I am very thankful for the fact that it caters to our own people, which is enough for me.”
“You know that person is a Samoan when they call out my Acting name Safuiage in public.”
“To be honest, I get embarrassed when people approach me because to me it’s just a movie, but to the people who love the movie it’s more than just a movie.”
“I love the fact that the movie is in Samoan, it’s educational and it indicates the Samoan proverbs and the reality of today as Samoans, for chiefs, reverends.”
“And I was told by some parents that their children are learning Samoan from the movie and that is what makes me happy.”
“And sometimes they even call my wife, Oketi, it’s kind of disrespectful at times, but she understands,” he said smiling.
Tupuola’s rugby career ended early after he injured his knee. And after undergoing 10 surgeries, he was told he can no longer play rugby.
“That’s when I started dancing in 2008 and since then, it’s been my passion.”
“It’s funny how the whole dancing thing started, I was homesick and so my cousins in New Zealand wanted to do something to keep our time occupied and that’s what kick started my dancing career.”
“We have been performing since then, we are now doing gigs left and right and it’s been successful.”
“We haven’t had a weekend off and we have been travelling all over New Zealand and Australia.”