Blakely bowing out to make film version of her acclaimed play.
Shortland Street actress Teuila Blakely, who plays Vasa Levi, is leaving the hit show after four years on set, The Diary can reveal.
But her character was not written out of the soap as a result of the recent high-profile sex tape scandal involving 22-year-old Warrior Konrad Hurrell.
Blakely, 39, is developing and writing a film script for South Pacific Pictures (SPP), makers of Shortland Street, which will see her work both sides of the camera.
Island Girls, based on the critically acclaimed play of the same name that Blakely wrote, starred in and produced in 2003, is a new film project under development for SPP. She says it will be a Sex and the City-type movie.
The deal is understood to have been negotiated months ago. Blakely is reluctant to say much. She is under contract with the company and it is understood her Shortland Street character will remain on air for several more weeks.
Producers are loath to confirm any details about the show's cast, worried that storylines will be spoiled for fans.
A company rep would only say: "Teuila has a project in development with SPP and she is working closely with the creative team to move that project through to its next stage.
"In order to protect the integrity of the storylines and out of respect to the audience, particularly during the popular winter season, SPP isn't prepared to divulge spoilers."
Blakely told The Diary she is grateful for her role on the soap, but always wanted to stretch herself as an artist.
"I always had plans and a greater purpose. This new project ultimately reflects my ability as a writer and I'm really excited for this opportunity. It will be my first major writing project."
Much has been made of the fallout from the sex tape: the death threats, the hate mail, the loss of a commercial deal and the ostracism from her Samoan community. It forced the mother-of-one to take stock of what was important to her.
Blakely has never been afraid of stepping into the unknown. Pregnant at 17, she had to work hard to provide for her son, Jared, taking on retail jobs at Glassons and McDonald's for 10 years.
She was desperate to get into acting, but as a working single mum didn't know how to break into the creative industry.
She joined an acting extras agency and volunteered at radio stations. Then came a job as a presenter on music channel C4, and an MC gig for American rapper Missy Elliott.
She helped launch Auckland hip-hop radio station Flava FM as its first drive-time host, before starting to co-host the breakfast show for national Pacific Island network Niu FM.
TV roles on Outrageous Fortune, This is Not My Life and Radiradirah followed, and a voiceover role on bro'Town as sassy Sina Tapili.
Now it's a new challenge: movie scriptwriter. Is Hollywood next?
Jackson rules out politics
Willie Jackson does not plan a return to national politics, he told The Diary yesterday. The broadcaster and former Alliance MP is thrilled his friend and former boss Laila Harre has thrown her hat back into the political ring, but he's discounted a return himself.
"I'm telling you now, I'm ruling out a return to politics for this election," Jackson said. "I'm committed to Ali [Mau] and our show on RadioLive, and I'm committed to the work I do in my community."
Media reports on Wednesday said Jackson had looked at standing for the Mana party in 2011 and had not ruled out standing this year.
Jackson said the media were "quick to speculate".
He praised Harre's move to the Internet Party as leader, and the alliance forged with the Mana Party. He said it meant a great line-up for both parties with potentially Harre, Hone Harawira, Annette Sykes and John Minto in Parliament.
Ex-PM 23 on power list
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been ranked 23rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine, dropping two places from last year. The head of the United Nations development programme is the only New Zealander on the list of 100 women, and comes ahead of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Aussie mining tycoon Gina Rinehart. It's the tenth time 64-year-old Clark has featured on the list.
Clark, who was in Belarus yesterday, took to Twitter to pay homage to colleagues who also made the grade. "Proud 2 b in Forbes 100 most powerful women list with UN colleagues Margaret Chan and Ertharin Cousin," she tweeted.
Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation, is ranked No 30, and Cousin, the executive director of the United Nations World Food programme, is No 45.
Beyonce Knowles (17), Oprah Winfrey (14), Michelle Obama (8), Hillary Clinton (6) and International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagard (3) rank higher in influence, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel topping the index - for the eighth time.
But it's the women of Silicon Valley who show true pulling power with 18 technologists in the top 100, including Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg (9), IBM chairwoman and chief executive Ginni Rometty (10), YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki (12), Yahoo's Marissa Mayer (18) and Hewlett Packard's Meg Whitman (20).
Cher Wang, co-founder of the Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC, and Cisco's chief technology and strategy officer, Padmasree Warrior, also made the top 100.
Helen Clark is in charge of a budget of US$5 billion and a staff of 8000 in 182 countries in 37 organisations. Forbes said she made the list because "her job has global impact: leading the international charge toward reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals by 2015" in gender equality, environmental sustainability, universal primary education and cutting poverty.
PS: Good luck to the Black Sticks who crack open their World Cup campaign against Belgium in Holland tomorrow. Richie McCaw's girlfriend, Gemma Flynn (left), is part of the squad.