Lani Tupu

Lani Tupu

Auckland, New Zealand

First Samoan to have starred in a Kiwi television series. Voice Over Artist, Actor, Narrator, Photographer.

1977 – Lani was awarded a Queen Elizabeth ll Arts Council bursary to study at NZ Drama School; becoming the first Samoan to graduate from the school.
In Australia he changed the spelling of his name from ‘Larney’ to ‘Lani’ after various cast members mistook him as being of Irish descent
1995 – He returned to New Zealand as director on a pioneering series dedicated to Samoan culture in Aotearoa. ‘Tala Pasifika’ consisted of eight short films which showcased Samoan talent. Written by Samoan Lisa Taouma, Talk of the Town (Tala o le Taulaga) marked Tupu’s debut as a screen director. The episode followed the life of a fa’afafine who is now a cabaret performer.
1999 – Lani won two roles and an international fan following thanks to science fiction series Farscape. Shot in Australia with a largely Australasian cast; Farscape ran for four seasons followed by a wrap-up mini-series. Lani initially auditioned to play alien warrior ‘D’Argo’, but saved a lot of time in make-up by winning the part of goatee-villain, Captain Crais instead.
His Australian-based acting roles range from a “wonderful cameo” in multi award-winner Lantana, to Dolph Lundgren action vehicle The Punisher (as a Mafia chief), TV’s Police Rescue, and tele-movie Heart of Fire, based on heroic Kiwi firefighter Royd Kennedy, and a feature role as ‘Boss Man’ in Rolf de Heer (Bad Boy Bubby) feature, The King is Dead.
He is one of the founding members of theatre group, Walkers and Talkers, alongside fellow ex-pat Kiwis Gary Stalker, Mary Regan, and his Marlin Bay screen wife May Lloyd.
Set up his Screen Actors Studio in the late 1990s and has taught acting on both sides of the Tasman – including at NIDA and Toi Whakaari. He also does regular voice-overs for Australian network SBS, and paints. Some of his artwork chronicles his travels as an actor.
1993 – Won several awards from the New Zealand Film and TV Awards for Best Dramatic Performance and a Best Actor award for Talk of the Town (which he also directed at the Dream Maker Festival in Ontario, Canada)
1986 – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Send a Gorilla at the Listener Film and Television Award
1985 – Nominated for Best Actor for Send a Gorilla at the Listener Film and Television Award
1984 – Best New Talent: for Country GP at the Feltex Awards

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