Frankie goes to Hol­ly­wood

Shorty star paving the way for new Poly­ne­sian tal­ent

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS -

It’s about 54.6 mil­lion kilo­me­tres from Fern­dale to Mars, but Frankie Adams leapt that with a sin­gle au­di­tion.

Not know­ing the char­ac­ter she was go­ing to play, she sent pro­duc­ers an au­di­tion tape she put to­gether ‘‘in­tu­itively’’. It worked. A cou­ple of meet­ings later, she was leav­ing roles on Short­land Street and Went­worth to play Mar­tian Ma­rine Bobby Draper on sci-fi TV ex­trav­a­ganza The

Ex­panse, which is about to kick off sea­son three on Kiwi screens.

An in­stant fan favourite, Draper is a woman of high prin­ci­ples on a jour­ney of self dis­cov­ery, test­ing the lim­its of loy­alty to her home­land. She’s also a 183cm tall Mar­tian badass.

‘‘She is re­ally cool,’’ says Adams dur­ing a quick trip home from Toronto, where the show films. ‘‘She never hes­i­tates to stand up for what she be­lieves in. And that’s quite ad­mirable, I think.’’

Adams likes that Draper is a ‘‘no­ble kind of girl’’ who will say what­ever she is feel­ing and give her opin­ion con­fi­dently.

‘‘I’ve learned that from her. She is a re­ally spe­cial woman. It’s re­ally nice to play her.’’

Prepar­ing to play the warrior woman, she un­der­took a month of train­ing with for­mer mil­i­tary in­struc­tors – but one thing she didn’t have to pre­pare for was Draper’s back­ground. Like Samoan-Kiwi Adams, Draper is a woman of Poly­ne­sian de­scent. She now has a Kiwi ac­cent, too.

‘‘When they found me [the pro­duc­ers] were like, ‘well, we’ll try three dif­fer­ent ac­cents’, and they tried Amer­i­can, English and nat­u­ral, which ob­vi­ously for me was Kiwi. They said, ‘well, we never con­sid­ered her to be Kiwi or her fam­ily mi­grat­ing from New Zealand’, but they re­ally liked her – they liked that it was a bit dif­fer­ent. They fig­ured that all dif­fer­ent ac­cents would be present in the fu­ture and they let me keep it, which is great. It makes my job eas­ier.’’

Bust­ing down Hol­ly­wood doors for Samoa and New Zealand hopefuls ap­peals to Adams. In a genre where, usu­ally, the bad guys are English and the good guys are Amer­i­can, she sees play­ing such a prom­i­nent role as rep­re­sen­ta­tion in ac­tion.

‘‘It’s just a bit of pres­sure, be­cause when you’re one of very few, you know you re­ally want to do a great

job. But it’s been great. I’ve had peo­ple from Samoa send­ing me lovely mes­sages and I feel re­ally proud to do it. My mum’s re­ally stoked that there’s some­body from Samoa who gets to be in a big Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tion.

‘‘With peo­ple like Beu­lah Koale (Thank You For Your Ser­vice, Hawaii

Five-0), KJ [Apa, star of Riverdale ]– we’re all Samoan-Ki­wis and we’ve been able to pave the way for a new wave of Poly­ne­sian tal­ent.’’

The Ex­panse is a pretty solid plat­form for that. A three-time Academy of Science Fic­tion, Fan­tasy & Hor­ror Films nom­i­nee and Hugo Best Dra­matic Pre­sen­ta­tion win­ner, the show has a huge and ded­i­cated fan­base – so big that when it was can­celled by Syfy, the out­rage from fans was so suc­cess­ful Ama­zon Stu­dios stepped in to res­cue it.

Adams says Syfy air­lock­ing the show was a shock, but she’d ‘‘made peace with it’’.

‘‘Then they started hav­ing th­ese talks and they weren’t go­ing to de­stroy the sets. I thought ‘no, this doesn’t hap­pen’ [that a show gets res­cued]. I don’t think this has ever hap­pened be­fore.’’

The show’s res­cuer con­firmed it. ‘‘We found out on the day when [Ama­zon head] Jeff Be­zos an­nounced it at a science con­fer­ence. That was amaz­ing and kind of ex­cit­ing and we all popped some bot­tles of Cham­pagne.’’

But be­fore Be­zos’ crew take full com­mand, there’s sea­son three and Adams has a hot tip for us: watch out for episode six. She fights a ‘‘Chronomon­ster’’.

‘‘That was a re­ally mem­o­rable thing to shoot – and to watch. It was re­ally well done by the vis­ual-ef­fects team. There was a lot of green-screen, but

I’ve had peo­ple from Samoa send­ing me lovely mes­sages and I feel re­ally proud to do it. My mum’s re­ally stoked.

ac­tu­ally that en­tire shoot I did alone. I had to pre­tend I was shoot­ing some­one and in­ter­act­ing with the mon­ster and then they did the mo­tion cap­ture af­ter be­cause it was so com­pli­cated.

‘‘That whole day it felt re­ally silly, be­cause I was hav­ing to do all this emo­tional stuff to no­body. But once it’s all cut to­gether it looks amaz­ing.

A longer trip back to New Zealand from outer space isn’t off the cards for Adams. She won’t even need one of The Ex­panse’s in­fa­mous ‘‘Ep­stein Drives’’ to make the leap.

‘‘I don’t feel that I’m only go­ing to work in Amer­ica,’’ she says. ‘‘If I love a [Kiwi] script I’ll be open to do­ing it, that’s for sure.’’

In the mean­time, she’s stick­ing with Bob­bie Draper. ‘‘I re­ally en­joyed sea­son three be­cause she [Draper] got to be a lit­tle cheekier.

‘‘She got to be quite crass, but also em­pa­thetic. She was just a lit­tle bit more flawed and I think that’s what hu­mans re­late to,’’ says Adams. ‘‘She had re­ally grown as a woman and as a hu­man.’’

The Ex­panse sea­son three, Sky Box Sets at 7.30pm on Thurs­day.

Frankie Adams as Mar­tian Ma­rine Bob­bie Draper in The Ex­panse. Like Samoan-Kiwi Adams, Draper is a woman of Poly­ne­sian de­scent. She now has a Kiwi ac­cent, too.

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