Ferndale is about to welcome a new star — and he is poised to get pulses racing.
Actor Theo David is joining Shortland Street as ambulance driver Villiami To'a and will charm hospital regulars.
"Vili definitely gives me Prince Charming vibes just with a lot more humility," David tells Spy.
"If Vili was a chocolate he'd 100 per cent be caramello. Firm and straight-forward on the outside but very smooth and sweet and silky on the inside, he wears his heart on his sleeve," he says.
David joins a pantheon of actors who have played ambo drivers on the TVNZ soap, including Blair Strang, Chye-Ling Huang and Rawiri Jobe.
A former NRL player, To'a has made his way to Ferndale for a fresh start and is a character who follows his impulses.
"To use TikTok language, he's what we would call a 'shooter.' He 'shoots his shot' whenever he can, which will add some excitement to a certain someone's life on the show — someone who probably needs to let loose a little."
David is a product of Massive Theatre Company, an emerging artist group run by former Shortland Street director Sam Scott. From there, David did Shakespeare with the Pop-Up Globe.
The 25-year-old says Marvel movies are to be credited for why he has chipped away at his acting dream."Just the idea that you can achieve all that spectacle with film-making gets me really excited. However, I'm a theatre kid at heart."
"People often view Shorty as the pinnacle of our industry here in NZ, and they're not wrong. The path to the "big time" in this industry is not linear, but if it were, all paths would probably go through Ferndale. The question now is how can I start to use this opportunity to propel me forward. It may lead me to be in the first superhero film to win the Oscar for best picture."
David got the call that he'd won the part while serving a customer at the cafe where he worked.
"For me, scoring this gig, if anything, is proof to myself that I am good enough to be doing this thing. More importantly, scoring this gig is a gift to my mum - just to let her know that her prayers for me haven't gone unanswered."
He says he also feels fortunate to be doing the job as a young, brown, Samoan man.
"So much work has been done in the past so that myself and others like me can be on Shortland Street and not have anyone question that. Seeing Shimpal Lelisi and Stephanie Tauevihi, and especially our late brother Pua Magasiva tread these boards absolutely made being on Shortland Street a real possibility for us."