Kiwi actor Frankie Adams on gender and diversity in Hollywood

24 July 2019
By Fashion Quarterly

The actor dishes on the ever-evolving face of Hollywood.

“Kiwis really know how to tell an honest story,” reflects Frankie Adams on the uniqueness of New Zealand storytelling. “They’re usually very vulnerable, raw and heart-warming in a way that only Kiwi charm can pull off.”

That easy-going charm is in full force with the 25-year-old actor, who has starred in the US sci-fi series The Expanse since 2016; its fourth season set to screen late 2019 and a fifth recently announced.

Based on the novels by James SA Corey and set 200 years in the future, it sees Frankie play tough Martian gunnery sergeant Bobbie Draper – and has allowed her to keep her distinctive Kiwi accent.

It’s also a character that reflects Hollywood’s slowly evolving commitment to genuine diversity. Originally described in the books as a strong, muscular woman with Polynesian ancestry, casting Bobbie proved a challenge for the show’s writers and producers.

IndieWire described it as the search for “the unfindable actress”, and executive producer Hawk Ostby admitted that the team “dreaded the task of going out into the world and finding this person”.

They found her in the charismatic and tomboyish Samoan New Zealander, whose past credits included five years on Shortland Street and a raw performance in Samoan director Tusi Tamasese’s 2017 film One Thousand Ropes.

Last year, in a profile on Kiwi rapper Coco Solid, the Guardian wrote about a “Polynesian pop culture takeover”, acknowledging the global success of Taika Waititi and Parris Goebel, and fellow Shortland Street alums Beulah Koale and KJ Apa.

Frankie feels positive about the increase in Polynesian representation but believes that “overseas, we’re still greatly under-represented. It’s so rare to see a Pasifika face on anything ‘Hollywood’.

“However, back home I see more and more Māori and Polynesian people on screens and behind the cameras, and it’s empowering. I hope to see more in future.”

This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly, Issue 1, 2019.

Words: Zoe Walker Ahwa
Photos: Stephen Tilley, Instagram
Stylist: Danielle Clausen
Fashion: Salasai shirt


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