Brisbane-born performer Sami Afuni thrilled audiences in HAMILTON, performing in the dual role of Hercules Mulligan/James Madison.
We chatted with Sami to learn about what makes him laugh, who inspires him, and how it feels to be performing for his hometown audience.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, my mother told me to pick three things I wanted to be when I grew up and to focus on them, and the three I picked were a professional footballer, a musician, and an actor. Since that moment, I have always been infatuated with all three. To this day I love playing football and making music as a hobby. And now it’s surreal that being an actor is my profession. I am extremely grateful for this and for the support of my parents, and I feel very blessed to be in the position I am.
Describe yourself in five words.
Grateful, patient, optimistic, ambitious, resourceful
What song always gets you dancing, and why?
"Just Wanna Rock" by Lil Uzi Vert. Me and my good friend Trey Curtis (who’s currently on Broadway doing HAMILTON) used to use the song to loosen up pre-shows, and now every time I hear it I can’t help but get jiggy with it.
Who or what inspires you, and why?
I take inspiration from many factors in life: my culture, my religion, my family, my city, my close friends. I gain inspiration because these are the things I represent, I do what I do for them as much as myself. And I love that I represent a lot. I am proud of who and what I represent, and where I’m from. And growing up I never saw much representation of my people, and when I did, it would usually be negative. So it inspires me to have the opportunity to make a positive impact on people and be that representation I was looking for as a kid. And that’s also why I’m so grateful to be part of a production like HAMILTON, where you see so much representation across the board.
What can’t you leave the house without?
The obvious answer would be a phone, but I’ve decided to steer clear of material and focus on the spiritual and mental. I can’t leave the house without praying my prayers. I pray five times a day; it’s something that keeps me grounded and grateful, and allows me to be myself fully. The practice of staying focused, counting your blessings, and showing gratitude regardless of what’s going on, through good days and bad days, allows me to approach my day in a composed and optimistic manner.
What makes you laugh, and why?
Definitely cats. I’ve watched numerous cat videos. I just love cats so much. They have to be the most random animals to ever exist. I see a cat on the street and I straight away wonder what is going through its head.
What has it been like for you to perform for your hometown audience?
It’s a dream come true. I still pinch myself about it. I am so grateful to be able to perform in my city, in front of the wonderful people of Brisbane, in such an iconic venue. Growing up, I’d always imagine what it would be like to perform at QPAC when I’d see the venue whenever I’d go for a swim at the parklands, or when I’d go for a cheap ticket movie at South Bank cinemas, or when I’d catch the bus to TAFE, so it genuinely feels like home being on that stage. The Brisbane crowds have been amazing and they definitely have lived up to expectations. Before coming home, I was telling everyone how awesome Brisbane is gonna be, and that us Queenslanders know how to have a good time. The cast and crew have been in awe of the people and the city, and I’m so happy and proud of that.
What advice do you give anyone wanting a career in the performing arts?
My advice would be to first and foremost believe in yourself, be patient and to enjoy the process just as much as the outcome. And ultimately, there’s no one way to achieve something, everyone has their own path, so as long as you’re putting in the work and effort, and enjoying it, it’s inevitable that you’ll see results.
“Celebrate and be grateful for the results, no matter how small or big, and allow them to inspire you to move on to the next.” - Sami Afuni
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