Humans of The Islands - Sisa Grey
Sisavai'i Grey Uiagalelei
I am an actor who dabbles in fashion designing, singing, writing, and a few other things. Recently I wanted to go into MMA and then my husband gives me 'the look' so I go back to acting like I am a MMA fighter...in my head.
When/How did you get into acting?
My father is a musician so I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis and other genres of music that a typical kid in Samoa wouldn't really listen to. We would go to the video store and rent nothing but musicals that some of these musicians were in. Watching those actors create magic on the screen started a fire in my heart that never went away. I guess you could say that my dad's love for music brought me to my love for acting.
Although my love for acting started at a young age, I didn't have the courage to pursue it till after being a mom. A few of my closest girlfriends were having dinner at my house and so we all decided to sit in a circle and say exactly what we've always wanted to do and are going to finally do it. When it came to me, I said I wanted to be an actor. They all thought I was joking and a few months later they all came to see me in my first theatre performance.
What has your experience been like, as one of so few Pasifika women on American television?
It's an honor to be one of the few, but I cannot wait till we all work together. I look forward to seeing work created not only for our people to tell our stories but also for the few Pasifika actresses here in America and also abroad to come together to create something beautiful and powerful.
What have been your biggest successes + challenges?
It's been a little over a year now since becoming a full time actress and there have been many blessings and challenges that I am truly grateful for. Being able to book many firsts for me (co-star, guest star, recurring, series regular) in this first year was such a success but it also had it's challenges.
One of the challenges I faced in the beginning was finding the balance between my culture and confidence. My parents taught us to always fa'aaloalo (be respectful) and it was ingrained in me that when I'd walk in or out of an audition I would excuse myself or apologize if I did something wrong in my work or I would just make myself small (I'm 6 feet tall) going into a room out of respect.
Then I realized that I needed to balance respect and confidence rather than using one and not the other. I feel they go hand in hand especially in this industry. My faith helps me overcome all challenges and I have special people in my corner who advise, counsel and encourage me. Surrounding myself with the right people makes all the difference.
Can you share any special/funny moments from your time acting on various US shows?
A special moment for me was on my first day shooting on Days Of Our Lives. One of the crew members came up to me after a couple of takes and said to me something that I will never forget. He said he can see that I don't just carry myself on set when I perform, but he sees that I carry my people and culture with me. He was right. I carry Samoa with me all the time and for him to see that....those words meant the world to me. A funny moment for me would be while working on Grey's Anatomy. My good friend and I had a joke going and it just grew and grew...and grew. Maybe in a few years I can share the joke, but for now...just trust me when I say it's funny. LOL
How does your pacific culture strengthen you as an actress?
Pasifika women are one of the strongest women I know. Applying that strength into my work has made me who I am today. Referring back to confidence, I walk into every room knowing I am not just an actress, but I am a Samoan woman, hear me roar....just kidding. Ok, maybe a tiny, inside my head cheeeeehoooo...;-)