Teuila Blakely has had to wait a long time for the rest of New Zealand to calm down so that she can fire up.
"A lot of people aren't going to like what I have to say," she predicts of the book she's writing about being single.
It will be a Sex and the City type read, only non-fiction.
"I think a lot of people are going to love what I have to say, but there will be an inevitable negative backlash."
But Blakely is pushing forward.
"I can deal with this."
The 44-year-old, who spent her early years growing up in Tauranga, plans to release an "experienced-based philosophical take on her single in the city life".
Come March, it will be 18 years since she was in a long-term relationship.
She says she's been single since splitting with actor and ex-fiance Oscar Kightley, who remains a close friend.
Why she hasn't finished writing her memoirs sooner is her constant stream of acting work. Also, the fallout from being at the centre of a sex video scandal that impacted her career and caused her to be trolled online as well as in real life, for more than two years following.
"My life is really nice without all of that.
"As a woman, I live a single, independent life and have been a single mother for life too."
She's been non-stop acting for the past 2.5 years, but this summer has a chance to return to writing.
Her book hasn't got an official title yet, but will be "intrinsic" to who she is and her life work.
"The book is a reflection of my life experience and also the experience of strong societal opinion and reaction to single females, especially around sex."
Blakely has flown from Auckland to meet me at Astrolabe Brew Bar in Mount Maunganui.
She's in matching pastel coloured clothing with flawless hair and make-up. She orders green tea.
Meeting her in person, it's hard to understand why anyone would want to offend her.
She's gracious, endearingly open, and humorously philosophical about life's bumps in the road.
Born in the Year of the Tiger, she wears a tiger ring with sapphire eyes, gifted to her by friend and designer Boh Runga.
"I wear it as my little talisman," she says, petting its head.
A few facts about her:
Her role model is the talk show host Oprah Winfrey; she hates doing dishes but doesn't mind other housework, calling it therapeutic; she's a loyal friend but always late "and that drives everyone crazy"; she loves to debate whether the earth is actually flat ("I'm going to get so much flak"); and her "superpower" is her fearlessness, to be honest.
She's never regretted speaking publicly about the leaked sex video. A simple Google search will reveal further details but she chooses not to mention the man in that Snapchat video by name, because it happened so long ago.
In September, she shared a naked photo of herself on Instagram with the words #MyBodyMyTerms.
She's always been passionate about women's empowerment and is an ambassador for the #MyBodyMyTerms campaign, which aims to change the way people think about victim-blaming, revenge porn, sexual violence and issues around consent.
"I had a very, very strict religious upbringing, so fundamentally, my moral compass is so strong. If the responsibility falls on you, then you must speak up.
"I don't think anybody should feel ashamed about any personal decision they make in their life that had no business going public.
"I feel like people weren't happy with the fact that I wasn't ashamed.
"(People) just kept on haranguing me in the hope I would buckle, but when it comes to something that I know is fundamentally right, there is nothing that they could do to me that's ever going to make me feel differently or not stand up for this.
"I will do that for the rest of my life because that's who I am, and that is what I believe is the right of every female on this planet."
Her son Jared, her parents, close friends and family were all affected by the unnecessary drama.
"It's definitely affected me career-wise in some ways because people have an opinion of the kind of woman I am when it comes to sponsorship and branding.
"But you know, that's fine. I align with what I align with.
"A lot of what has happened has actually given me a platform in order to stretch myself personally."
Being perpetually single is "rewarding and empowering".
"Yes, the unknown is scary, but that's what motivated me to write this (book) far before the sex scandal happened.
"It certainly doesn't define who I am, but I have a single woman existence, and long-term, which is quite different from any other woman I know currently."
"I've always stayed open to having a long-term relationship and I believe that it is natural as a human to want to be with someone else.
"What I love though, is I've learned how to be single and actually be really content.
"I've got this single, independent woman (thing) down pat!"
Behind the camera
, on December 1 Blakely will make her first appearance in the last episode of the current season of the award-winning series
The Brokenwood Mysteries
She plays Angela Lafferty, the superintendent of the Brokenwood Women's Prison, who has a rather holistic approach to how she rehabilitates prisoners.
The episode also revisits some of the more infamous female murders that fans have seen in the previous series of the show.
"In terms of local productions, I've always wanted to do a role in
," she enthuses.
"I love me a classic format, whodunit murder mystery.
"I think the setting is wonderful because it's quite like a small town, smaller to Tauranga but maybe similar to when I was growing up in Tauranga (in the 1980s).
"The characters are quite caricature in a way, and that's what I really loved about playing this character.
"She's incredibly flamboyant and unlike any character I've played to date, so I'm quite excited for people to see her. I took real pleasure in playing her.
"All of the roles most recently in my career have been quite high-status. I love that. I love being in charge," she laughs.
She's also in the process of working on a screenplay for
, the play she wrote and performed in 17 years ago about the daughters of migrants.
She's recently wrapped up the last two seasons of
- an American children's show which films in New Zealand.
Feedback from American fans was it was wonderful to see a woman of colour.
"I think in terms of what is going on in America right now, those kinds of representations for kids are important," she says.
Blakely was cast as the mentor to the Power Rangers and mentored them in real life too, something she missed out on as a young actress, labelling the industry "ruthless".
It was on her last day filming for
, that she learned close friend and fellow actor Pua Magasiva, 38, had passed away.
"What makes me sad in terms of Pua professionally, he was so greatly talented that I feel he had so much more to show."
Outspoken at times, a contradictory aspect of Blakely's personality is that she was, and still is extremely shy, calling herself an "extroverted introvert".
"Part of why I love acting is I get to tell stories and I get to reflect the human experience. All these sorts of motivators drive me through my shyness."
The public side of her career is love-hate.
"You're looked at, you are noticed, and then people obviously have opinions of you, which can be far from the individual you are in real life.
"If I'm going to go out and socialise I have to really be prepared energy-wise, and if I'm tired or I can't deal with it that day, I probably make the decision not to."
Best friend Monica Nauer from Waihī Beach says people tend to cast judgement on Blakely based on what comes through in the media.
"I feel some media has strongly misrepresented her," she says.
The true Blakely - "nurturing, grounded and intelligent" - is more than her headlines.
Her book will give a window to "who she really is'.'
Small town ambitions
Blakely was born in Tauranga Hospital and spent her early years living in Welcome Bay.
Her mum Martha is Samoan, her dad Frank is from Central Otago.
They owned takeaway joints The Kebab on Cameron Road and the Chippewa in Greerton.
Before starting Tauranga South School (now Gate Pā) she went to work with her dad as a "shop kid".
Her mum helped establish the first Pacifica Women's League in Tauranga and Blakely, who is also very musical, would do shows for their conferences with her four siblings.
"I can't remember a time in my life where I have not wanted to perform."
The family left Tauranga when she was eight and moved to West Auckland.
"I was such a Tauranga girl and when I arrived in Auckland, I really became aware of just how different I was to Auckland kids. They were a lot more streetwise."
She grew up fast though when she fell pregnant at 16 and learned to navigate life by her terms.
"I'm really grateful for the experience and the wisdom that hardship has given me.
"It's matured me in a lot of ways quite quickly because here I am at 44, with a 27-year-old.
Having only had one child, she's hopeful for grandchildren.
"I really do hope I get to be hands-on with them and that can be my second go at motherhood."
She worked in radio, hosting Pacific Island talk back before going on to host Niu FM Breakfast with fellow Sione's Wedding stars, Oscar Kightley and Mario Gaoa when son Jared was young, and then got a television presenting job at C4 with her own flagship RnB show Freestyle.
From there, she was asked to launch the Hip Hop station Flava and her acting started taking off at the same time.
These days she also does voiceover work including several feature length animation projects for international audiences as well as being the voice of Three.
Before the end of the year, she'll travel to Hawaii to see friends who are working on a film project, saying: "The intention has always been to get overseas (and act myself) but I've never stopped working here".
With the industry changing internationally with Netflix, Blakely's never auditioned more in her life.
"Going offshore ... that's definitely the next phase for me. Maybe that's how I'm not going to be single too! Ha, ha."
Then there's her book, and getting
"I'm coming into my mid-40s and I can honestly say, I am so lucky," she says.
"I feel fortunate that I'm at the place that I am at right now, and that's a great place to be."
# Teuila Blakely's episode of The Brokenwood Mysteries will screen on Sunday, December 1, 8.30pm on Prime TV, and repeats Saturday at 7.30pm.