top of page

M9: ‘It’s so terrifying for me:’ Actor Ngahuia Piripi reveals her fear of taking the M9 stage as herself

Alualumoana Luaitalo

‘It’s so terrifying for me:’ Actor Ngahuia Piripi reveals her fear of taking the M9 stage

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

For actor Ngahuia Piripi, taking the stage at M9 purely as herself - and not as a character - is a terrifying prospect.

Piripi (Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi) is well known for her role as Dr Esther Samuels in long-running Kiwi soap Shortland Street.

She also played Miriam Mahana in the 2016 film Mahana.

Piripi is one of nine speakers at M9 Aotearoa, at the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre in Auckland on November 16. The annual event showcases Māori talent and this year features nine actors, writers and comedians.

It will be a two-hour extravaganza of powerful Māori voices who have come together for a very special evening, presenting nine very different stories chosen to inspire, empower and entertain.

The theme is He Mataaho ki te Ao Whakaari - Whānau, Feeds and Fame.

The speakers will discuss their personal journeys and how Māori can forge their own paths in the acting space.

Piripi says the idea of being a guest speaker at M9 was scary at first.

“It’s terrifying because as much as being an actor means you live in the public eye, it means you’re vulnerable and you’re open to scrutiny.”

She believes M9 is a platform that can be used by everybody, especially Māori.

“Specifically our future generations, like this [M9] will become a resource that they will be able to use and refer to.

“And as much as everyone wants to be inspirational, I just hope that me sitting up there being very real and vulnerable and because honestly, it’s so terrifying for me.”

Playing a character gives an actor something to hide behind, Piripi says.

Ngahuia Piripi, who plays Dr Esther Samuels on Shortland Street, is one of nine speakers at M9. Photo / Supplied

But at M9 Piripi is simply being herself.

“But I kind of hope that maybe there will be rangatahi out there who might just relate to my real-life story.”

Piripi says the mental toll of acting can be challenging.

“You know, like when you playing emotions - high emotions, for example, your mind will know that it’s not real, but your body necessarily might not.

“And I think that being within that realm can sometimes affect you mentally if, if you’re not prepared.’’

Facing rejection is another big challenge.

“I think that’s the biggest, it’s the biggest one because you do have to have such tough skin.

“And it takes, it takes 100 auditions and [you] keep getting told ‘no, no, no, no, no’ a million times you know, before you get that one ‘yes’.”

Piripi’s mentality is: “You just have to treat it like water under the bridge and start again”.

“It’s not necessarily an attack on you personally. It just means that you didn’t quite fit the bill.”

Hero image: Ngahuia Piripi. Photo / Supplied

bottom of page