From Netflix to kapa haka for royalty: Acushla-Tara Kupe’s acting adventures

Acushla-Tara Kupe’s life in London has been a whirlwind of performances, kapa haka, and Shakespeare. Taranaki Community News caught up with her to find out more about what she’s been up to.

Hi Acushla! Thank you so much for chatting with us! Let’s start with the most revealing question of all time… If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
Kia Ora! Thanks for having me here. Starting with the tough questions I see. I’d go for classic invisibility, and as all good superheroes do, I’d use my forces for good – and the occasional sneaky adventure.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Probably … soup – if I’m allowed different flavours! My Nana’s pumpkin soup was so legit, classic.

Acushla-Tara Kupe as Feste in Twelfth Night

So, you’ve been in London now since 2016… What do you miss the most about New Zealand? Aside from friends and family of course.
Nature, definitely. Not to say London is totally void of greenery, but I miss the ocean air, walking around barefoot, and weirdly, I miss the grass patches on footpaths.

I also miss the walkability of home. Commuting here is a real thing, although I’m reading a lot more now because of it #silverlinings

You’ve done some pretty epic things in London. What have some of your absolute highlights been?
Highlights would be: singing for royalty (doing a haka in front of Harry and Megan and being kaea for a waiata for Princess Anne), travelling Europe with Ngāti Rānana, working for the BBC on a TV show and radio drama, getting to see some of the best in the business perform on the West End, hosting a fitness show, acting coaching on a gorgeous short film, and performing in front of hundreds of people at The Scoop this year as Feste in Twelfth Night

Kapa haka in London

You’ve just opened a New Zealand play called Anahera. How’s it going, and what’s it like to be in a Kiwi play in London?
Well the reviews have just started coming in and everyone seems to love it as much as we do, whew!

It’s really special doing a kiwi play and playing a Māori character in London. I feel like I’m sharing a slice of home with the cast and crew, and am very proud of our country and our creatives. 

The playwright Emma Kinane also flew over to be with us through rehearsals and it was very special having her with us on opening night.

What else have you worked on this year?
This year has been a real mix but so far I’ve performed in a two-hander called Like You Hate Me at the Lion and Unicorn, The Sea Queen and Twelfth Night at The Scoop, Bingo Hall for Global Indigenous Voices as part of the Origins Festival, a commercial, a rehearsed reading of Astroman (another kiwi play), and a short film called Woman in Blue which I did when I was home earlier this year starring myself, Tanea Heke, Temuera Morrison, and Isaac Te Reina. 

I’m also working on a video game but I’ve signed all the NDAs so I’m not allowed to talk about it yet, and was the production coordinator for a short film directed by Kiwi actress Kerry Fox.

Acushla-Tara Kupe starred in Woman in Blue with Temuera Morrison

If you could meet any three people from history, who would you pick, and why?
That’s such a tough question! The first people that come to mind are … Marilyn Monroe, Maya Angelou, and Michelle Obama.

Marilyn to understand her drive, professionalism, and hunger, whilst coping with a hectic and demanding job and life.

Maya because I don’t know enough about her and would love to spend a month just asking her every question under the sun.

Michelle to learn what I can from her about passion, grace, determination, and love.

What’s a random thing most people probably don’t know about you?
I have three tattoos. A few people know about the one I share with my sisters, but not necessarily about the whole ‘collection’. Because of my work they’re all in places I can easily cover which is great, but a shock for some people when they see them for the first time.

Your all time favourite song, favourite book, and favourite stage show
Currently these are:
Song – Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars. Always brings a smile to my face.
Book – The Power by Naomi Alderman, although this is constantly changing.
Stage Show – Emilia by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, which I saw in London this year and had the whole theatre on their feet for one of the most passionate standing ovations I’ve ever experienced.

You can catch Acushla-Tara Kupe on Netflix in episode six of Creeped Out

Do you have any cool projects coming up?
I’m looking forward to having some time to chill after what has been a pretty manic few months. I’ll be working on the video game in November and that will be ticking over for a while yet. 

Aside from that I have a few auditions lined up and some travel planned, before rugging up for what has been predicted will be one of the coldest winters in the UK for a long time! 

I’ve also recently launched Taake Tu with some mates, a creative kiwis collective here in London, plus I’ll be heading back into kapa haka practice with Ngāti Rānana once the show is over.

  • You can stay up to date with Acushla’s adventures on Twitter. You can also catch her in Creeped Out (episode six ‘The Call‘) on Netflix NZ now.