KJ is featured on the May cover of Men’s Health Australia. Check out the photos in the gallery and read his interview! I will add scans when the issue releases.
Photoshoots & Portraits > 2021 > Session 02 | Men’s Health Australia
MEN’S HEALTH AU – Kiwi actor KJ Apa came out of nowhere to land the coveted role of Archie Andrews on hit teen drama Riverdale. As his star continues to rise, though, Apa’s managing something very few of us could hope to achieve: to go from nobody to next-big-thing without losing yourself.
In a different life, KJ Apa might have been an All Black. It’s every young Kiwi boy’s dream, right? But while it was mostly schoolboy, pie-in-the-sky musing, Apa was perhaps a little more equipped than most to imagine himself in a vein-bulging lather, bellowing out the haka before a Test at Eden Park.
He had pedigree – his uncle was an All Black. And thanks to his dad, a fitness nut, he’d been taught the discipline and dedication he would require if he was to make it in elite sport. Most importantly, Apa had the confidence to believe he could do anything. Which is a good thing, because that’s exactly what he proceeded to do.
“That was the first goal, to play rugby,” says Apa, who instead of rampaging toward the try line in a Bledisloe Cup decider, is talking to MH on a snowy afternoon in Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park. “I wanted to follow in my uncle’s footsteps.”
Apa is sitting on a stool nursing a coffee in front of an old blue house, looking down through the tumbling snow to where the sea would be if he could see it. It’s a rare day off from shooting on his hit show Riverdale, a soapy, subversive update of the classic Archie Comics series, in which he plays the titular character Archie Andrews.
Archie is one of the reasons Apa isn’t chasing his boyhood dreams, though the levers of fate creaked particularly hard on this one. Apa blew his first audition for the sought-after role. He was tired and jet lagged after flying in from NZ. Fortunately, the show’s creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, decided to give him another shot. This time he brought out his guitar and nailed it. But he’s often wondered what would have happened if he didn’t get the gig.
“I like to think I would have booked something else but maybe I would have been back on the next plane to New Zealand after a couple of weeks and back to playing rugby, trying to make that happen for myself,” says Apa, whose abbreviated nickname KJ – short for Keneti James – has the ring of stardom, whatever the field. “It was pretty much next on my list.”
Instead of 130kg props, Apa would face an equally imposing psychological foe in overnight fame and its stacked front row: money, girls, media. It can easily swallow a kid up. Heck, it almost did. Apa admits he got caught up in it all for a while there. Got caught up in himself.
“When this show first took off, being so young and getting success like that isn’t a natural thing for a human to deal with,” says Apa. “That amount of fame in such a short time. It’s easy to get distracted and get carried away. I experienced that and I’ve learned from those experiences.”
To be calling yourself out at 23 gives you an indication of Apa’s maturity. That could be due to where he came from: the suburbs of Auckland, descended from Samoa, where his dad was a ‘matei’ or village chief. They’re places most Hollywood casting agents regard as nowhere. “Nobody even knows what Samoa is over here,” he says.
Read the rest of the interview at the source