Internet troll? Teuila Blakely will see you now.

"I take it, I deal with it, I move on. And I've had to deal with so much in my life. These things take, like, five minutes. But I'll take five minutes to honour them and cry. Yeah. 'Cos I've dealt with way worse shit."

A public service announcement then to the person who thought Blakely would make a great head coach (LOLZ); also to the one who commented on YouTube "let's be honest, all Island girls are sluts". And, oh yeah, definitely to the one who told Blakely to kill herself. That was your five minutes, buddy. And your time is exactly up.

Because: "This is not going to be the end of me. No f***ing stupid social media slut-shaming bullshit is going to be the end of me."


Blakely, 42, is done with the fall-out from the leaked sex tape she made with Auckland Warriors player Konrad Hurrell. The footage remains online but this will never be the defining 17-seconds of her life.

"As a woman, at some point, you have to fall in love with who the f*** you are and how the f*** you are. In every single way."

The teuila is Samoa's national flower. Its waxy petals range in colour from blush pink to fiery red. They are frequently threaded on to ula; worn as garlands because they are both beautiful and robust. They can stand the heat.

Blakely arrives at the Pt Chevalier bar battling a cold. Jeans, sneakers, shrugged into a woolly, roll-necked jumper. She orders a whiskey old-fashioned (medicinal). Best-known from Sione's Wedding and Shortland Street, on July 11 she'll make her first appearance in the second season of Filthy Rich. She notes, "I'm starting to get typecast as these real hardcore bitches."

Blakely's mum is Samoan, her dad's from Central Otago. She was born in Tauranga and raised in West Auckland. A good girl, she says, on track to become head girl, to go to university, to make her Mormon mother proud.

I don't want to ruffle any feathers. I'm only living a life that men have always had permission to live.

"When I became pregnant at 16, to a boy from church, and we didn't get married . . . I literally left home on that day. I think I was in my school uniform. As harrowing as that was, all those years, what it did give me was the opportunity to have freedom in my life. One, to choose my own religion - which is none, absolutely none - and also to choose my own vocation. I've always wanted to do what I'm doing today, but I would never have been allowed to if I'd stayed in the family fold, because I was expected to study and become a lawyer and that wasn't negotiable."

She remembers standing outside an abortion services clinic in Epsom unable to go through the door. "I've never been able to describe it, it's like when you're physically rendered powerless. There was no way."

Everything, says Blakely, happens for a reason.

"Absolutely everything, if you give it long enough, works out for you. Even the worst things in life."

Jared, her son, is 25 now. "I am so proud of the human that he is." Her friends have toddlers. She politely declines invitations to join them at Chipmunks on the weekends.

"I'm so glad I had a child when parents were parents! The kids went with your life, not the other way around . . . I don't know what the hell has happened to motherhood in the past 25 years, but they have gone insane!"

All of that, of course, with the softness of time. Because turning up at your best friend's house, 16 and pregnant, is not ideal. Sleeping in a car with a 4-month-old baby is not ideal. Working at Glassons-McDonalds-Etc to feed your toddler is not ideal.

She stayed in contact with her father, but it was 10 years before her mother renewed family ties.

"It was . . . real. Do you know what I mean? All the things that come with it. The really real stuff that most people hopefully don't ever get to ever know about in life.

"I didn't marry the father of my son and she said to me point blank 'no man is ever going to want you now you've got another man's child' - the end. Like, The End. And I guess, being a Samoan Mormon, in that environment, that's true.

"So when this man actually took me on, with my son, it was like 'Oh my God, come on home, then'. And then that man broke my heart so badly."

Blakely was engaged to Oscar Kightley, actor, writer, television presenter. He met someone else and they split up. A year later, Sione's Wedding got the green light and they were scheduled to work together. She says she called Kightley for coffee. They were going to be on a six-week shoot, and they had to talk.

"For those six weeks, we're not even going to think about what's gone on. We're going to go into this film, we're going to enjoy it, we're going to work together, for all our friends, and everyone involved. And during that six week . . . truce? . . . I realised this man is my friend. I still love him as my friend."

Some people, she says, don't understand their relationship. "They don't need to. He's got my back, and I've got his."

Coat by Zambesi, earrings by Flash Jewellery and statement necklace by Louis Vuitton. Photo / Guy Coombes
Coat by Zambesi, earrings by Flash Jewellery and statement necklace by Louis Vuitton. Photo / Guy Coombes

Blakely is famously single.

"My girlfriends, bless them, they were so worried for me. I spent my entire 30s with my friends worried I was single. I kept saying, it's okay."

Blakely is also, infamously, sexual.

"Oh, 100 per cent. It's a must! Do you know how many married girlfriends I have out there who are not having sex, and I'm like Jesus Christ, my heart breaks for you. I'm sorry, women need sex. We all need sex. We're all sexual beings and one of the things I address in my book is that women still have a problem, even in 2017, with admitting how sexual we are."

A book?

"Look, I don't want to ruffle any feathers. I am only living a life that men have always had permission to live, and this is why I'm writing the book."

It will be a "philosophical and life-experience"-based memoir. She plans to finish it this year, along with an updated screen version of Island Girls, the play she wrote and performed in 15 years ago when she was trying to convince people she could be an actor.

"Oscar said to me why don't you write a play? Put on a play, invite everyone you know. And it worked, and we did two sell-out seasons, and that's how I started acting. I had to show people first."

Teuila is a role model for Samoan women to not define themselves by the values of others.

The aim was - and is - mainstream. Blakely says Polynesian people shouldn't be confined to Polynesian roles, but in New Zealand-made productions, ethnicity is hardly ever incidental.

"I am a brown woman and I want to contribute to the normalisation of that . . . we don't need to be niche. I didn't get into this industry to stay goddam niche."

Actually, what she really wanted to do when she was a little girl: "Dance. Well, try dancing in the racist 80s with white girls and their mothers. My mummy would take me along and I'd try my hardest and we were just isolated. Literally ignored, the mothers would all ignore my poor mother. You're just invisible. We were called niggers and coconuts at school . . . it was diabolical. People go, 'oh, you guys use the brown card' - because, hello?! I'm sorry, there's no hiding this."

She stopped going to classes. "I was heartbroken, but I also lived in the world. I got it."

Blakely is a first-generation New Zealand-born Pacific Islander. A minority.

"And the country that our parents come from, they were the majority. They were here, dealing with a whole social construct they couldn't have even expected or known how to deal with. I actually fundamentally believe half the reason why family violence was such an issue with our generation, was our parents were being treated so badly, they didn't even know how to cope emotionally. They didn't have the support networks that they do at home."

Earlier this year, writing for Unicef NZ, Blakely described a childhood spent watching adults, dozing on bread crates in the back of the takeaway shop her parents owned until she was 7. Something she noticed: "People were different to us when we were with Mum, as opposed to when we were with Dad."

Today, she tells Canvas: "I would watch her get treated like shit, and then her anger would come out."

Samoan mothers, says Blakely, are known for being "hard core" and "my mother is considered the hard core of hard-core parents".

"Has this, in some ways, made me who I am? Absolutely. My mum was such an example of such strength and power, and unrelenting within her power. I know that I have that, and I think that I channel it a little more positively, but it's still the same. It's about how you channel what happens to you - it's not what happens to you."

In the 1980s, the Blakely's moved to West Auckland.

"I'd never seen brown people en masse. It was honestly like Christmas. I literally just wanted to hug everyone and I made this assumption that 'cos we're all brown, we'll all like each other. They just thought I was weird. I was like, 'we're all friends' and they're like, 'no, you're a dick and you dress like you're from the country and you talk like you're white'."

She was "a geek-slash-nerd. And it wasn't cool to be smart!" She was bullied, but she also made a group of girlfriends who, she says, "have seen the whole thing", who know things about her that others don't and now, "they're just 'go, enjoy it, love it all'."

What goes around comes around. Blakely did get to dance - on national television. She's devastated she was judged off Dancing with the Stars before she got to perform to Whitney Houston. Because, solemnly, and with hand on heart: "Whitney Houston is life to me."

One school holidays, a 12-year-old Blakely and her cousin watched The Sound of Music every single day. She saw Grease at the movies, and wanted to play Rizzo. She came from a big Mormon family. The Osmonds came from a big Mormon family. Definitely, thought Blakely, she would have her own television show like Donny and Marie. Then she got pregnant. Then she got kicked out of home.

"I was always stressed. There was never a time in my life when I wasn't worried about how I was going to pay the bills. I was working two to three jobs at a time. When I started in radio, my baby was in Intermediate school, I would get up at 4am and leave him to get ready for school - illegally."

Teuila Blakely. Photo / Guy Coombes
Teuila Blakely. Photo / Guy Coombes

She'd run home at midday, then go back to the station for the drive-time show. She'd see Jared again at 7pm. Dinner was always at 7.30pm. "When I hear mothers who have partners talk about how hard motherhood is . . . "

The definition of being a single woman and a single mother? "You do every single thing yourself."

But then she got that television show, a presenting job at C4. It was madness but it was also the dream. Leilani Hoyt has known Blakely for two decades: "We have seen her do her auditions and acting classes and work part-time and raise her son and work hard to achieve all this. She said, then she put it all into action."

She calls Blakely her "sistah" - the "h" is for heart.

"Our girls' nights are usually at her place, where the stereo is playing our fave Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. These songs are our life anthems. If one of us is struggling she is the one who will hug you and tell you that you are beautiful and amazing and worthy and to never give up.

"Other times she will share insight about what is going on in the world and we can have some awesome discussions on world politics. She is our Oprah. If there were cameras at some of our girls' nights, it would make for an A-Mazing talk show. Um, can someone make that happen?"

Is Blakely a role model? Hoyt: "Samoa is a mix of traditionalists and modernists, so it depends who you talk to. I think in this modern age Teuila is a role model for Samoan women to not define themselves by the values of others, but instead live authentically to your truth."

And the haters? "Their loss," Hoyt says.

It's the day after our first interview, and Blakely is all camera-ready hair, eyes and designer clothes.

"Do you know what I live my life by? That I will die. This is so temporary. Do you know darling, honestly, it's what drives me every day. Today could be the day I die. I'm so in love with the gift of life. What I've come to know is that everything's perfect all the time and you have to have faith that everything is happening right on time, right for you."

What you can control is exactly what is in front of you. Press record. Press send. Then deal with the fact that half of New Zealand and much of Samoa appears to have watched a Shortland Street actor and a 22-year-old New Zealand Rugby League star having a very nice time, thank you.

"That wasn't the first or the last video that Konrad or I made. When he started doing that, I was like - 'oh shit'. I had to ask myself in an instant, 'are you okay with that? Can you deal with that?'

"Part of being an empowered sexual woman, which we all have the right to be, is I can send a topless video or selfie to my man. I'm allowed to. And if he puts that online, I'm allowed to not be ashamed of that, because I did that. I'm allowed to make a f***ing video of me in my car. I was actually okay with the whole thing . . . with him making a video of it, I was even okay with him sending it to his mates. I was not okay with it going online to everyone for them to have their judgment about what I feel okay with in my life."

The fall-out? Human beings need validation and social media validates, says Blakely.

"To me, the more negative it is, the deeper the need. Give them points for creativity - some of them are as colourful as f*** - but at the end of it, is the need to be validated. If you get that from doing that to me, well you get that today, but you're going to need that from somebody else tomorrow and the next day and the next day."

Genetics. Environment. We're the sum of all those things, says Blakely. "But before any behaviour is a choice. A decision."

Filthy Rich, 8:30pm on TVNZ 2 from July 11.