Herald on Sunday - - SPY NEWS -

Ac­tor Sonny Tupu is al­most half the man he used to be — af­ter grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion won him his dream role on Short­land Street. Samoan-born Tupu is the Street’s hottest new­comer Dion — a ris­ing rugby league star, strug­gling with his sex­u­al­ity. He is poised to play the new love in­ter­est for Jack Hannah (Reuben Mil­ner). The 27-year-old is al­most un­recog­nis­able as this pic from eight years ago shows. Shed­ding more than 40kg, Tupu now spends his time as a per­sonal trainer at Jetts Fit­ness. He has even been snapped putting some of the cast through their paces.

“I am still on my own per­sonal jour­ney and still learn­ing about be­ing healthy, fit and men­tally happy . . . but act­ing was a pas­sion and I was de­ter­mined to be able to play a va­ri­ety of roles — not just type­cast as the ‘big’ guy in the back of the scene,” Tupu told Spy.

“Act­ing is what mo­ti­vated me to be health­ier, lose weight and train not only the body, but the mind. I think things are def­i­nitely head­ing in a pos­i­tive direc­tion all round.”

It is Tupu’s first big act­ing break but he has had a fa­mil­iar face to keep him calm — fel­low grad­u­ate of Welling­ton’s drama school Toi Whakaari Jay­den Daniels, who plays Curtis Hannah, is a mate.

Tupu is rel­ish­ing the chal­lenge of his com­mit­ments as a trainer and the chal­lenge of be­ing on Short­land Street.

He says his role has a twist.

“This is a great role and a sto­ry­line I am sure will ring true with many. I just hope I am do­ing it jus­tice. You won’t see what’s com­ing — it even took me by sur­prise when I was given the scripts.

“I was ex­cited about the sto­ry­line when I got the role and hope that if

I can tell just one per­son that it’s okay to be your­self, who­ever and what­ever you do, then the job is done, and I am happy.”

Sonny Tupu

Sonny Tupu be­fore and af­ter.

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