‘See me. This is who I am’

Western Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

Danielle Clent talks to Spencer Pa­pali’i about his per­sona.

Spencer Pa­pali’i first re­alised be­ing gay was con­sid­ered dif­fer­ent at in­ter­me­di­ate school.

He had told a friend he liked an­other guy, the school found out, and the bul­ly­ing be­gan.

‘‘It felt like the end of the world,’’ the 24-year-old said.

The Henderson res­i­dent cre­ated his drag per­sona, Shanita Kun­teee, to help him deal with his past strug­gles.

He said grow­ing up a gay Poly­ne­sian male was dif­fi­cult as he was ex­pected to be an ex­am­ple for his younger broth­ers.

He didn’t come out to his par­ents un­til af­ter high school, and although it wasn’t talked about much, his par­ents were sup­port­ive, he said.

Pa­pali’i de­scribed his per­sona as fierce.

‘‘She doesn’t care what any­one says,’’ he said.

‘‘When I’m her, I can get away with most things that I couldn’t get away with if I was just Spencer.’’

He said Shanita was very new and he was still in the process of dis­cov­er­ing who she re­ally was.

The look came from in­spi­ra­tion of other drag queens and Pa­pali’i play­ing around with dif­fer­ent makeup looks.

Some­times Shanita’s eye­brows would be raised higher as to say ‘‘see me. This is who I am’’.

Other times, the makeup would be more sub­tle and con­ser­va­tive.

‘‘It re­ally just de­pends on her mood at the time and how she feels,’’ Pa­pali’i said.

Shanita Kun­teee would be shown to the world at Pa­pali’i’s de­but solo show, O A’u, Samoan for ‘‘me’’.

O A’u will play at Base­ment The­atre from Septem­ber 19-23.

Tick­ets are $18-$20 and avail­able at iTicket.

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