Actor Mana Tatafu stops by on Close-Up Culture to talk about his role in the latest season of Young Rock.
You recently played King Tonga on the second season of Young Rock. How did this opportunity come about?
I auditioned via self tape for the role and a couple days later received the news that I was shortlisted. Fast forward two weeks, I’m halfway into my lunch meal at the mall food court and I get a call from my agent (Mila Stephenson) telling me the good news that I had landed the role.
How did you prepare to play such an iconic figure in the wrestling industry?
First of all I contacted one of my personal trainer mates (Michael Koloi) and sorted a program then started training daily while also being on a strict diet. I started this two days after receiving the call, all the way until I flew out of New Zealand.
When I wasn’t training I was studying every wrestling and non-wrestling piece of material I could find about Tonga ‘Uli’uli Fifita a.k.a King Tonga. Although all this was part of the preparation for a role, I was proud and really moved by his drive as a fellow Tongan who grew up in Tonga, with his career.
There are some great photos on Instagram of you with your co-stars and even the legendary Chavo Guerrero. What was your experience like on the shoot?
I would say it was one of the best, if not THE best experience of my life, to date. Chavo Guerrero was our wrestling coordinator and just learning from him in the ring, not only helped us feel safe and but also have a deeper appreciation for wrestling.
To have your first day on set and you have a crowd of actors as wrestling fans, hearing them cheer and then realising that you’re one of the people they’re cheering for, was just euphoric. But then also seeing the Tongan flag in the crowd really brought about the emotions – definitely a special moment.
What type of roles would you love to take on in the future?
I love dramatic and action roles.
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I plan to one day live overseas and God-willing, be blessed to constantly do what I love… acting.
Follow Mana on Instagram – Mana Tatafu (@manatatafu) • Instagram photos and videos
Check out Mana on Facebook – Mana Tatafu (facebook.com)