The geriatric-filled halls of Shortland Street are a far cry from the gloomy American small town of Riverdale. However, both fictional towns share a strong kiwi connection: new Hollywood heartthrob KJ Apa.
The 19-year-old actor, model and musician plays the role of Archie Andrews on Netflix’s hit show Riverdale. Based on the iconic Archie Comics universe, the series begins with a murder of a young man that shakes the once peaceful town to its core.
At the heart of all the drama is a (now red-head) kiwi actor who, by chance, became involved in acting. “When I was 13, my mum checked me into a modelling agency. Then, out of nowhere, they asked me to audition for a TV show, which I did and I got going from there.”
That role KJ is referring to in an interview with Huffington Post was none other than his role as Kane Jenkins on TVNZ’s Shortland Street. Fast forward to 2016 and he admits that he was ‘surprised aye’ when he beat out thousands of young actors to play the iconic role.
The part Samoan even admits to being a little starstruck too. Although the two have now formed a formidable bromance, KJ stated in a NZ Herald interview that when he first met Cole Sprouse (Suite life of Zack and Cody) he “met him and was like, Aw you’re the man bro!”
It can be almost surreal to think that, just like many kiwi lads, KJ just wanted to play rugby and hang with his mates. Now that once 13-year-old wide-eyed kid from Auckland is gracing the screens of many around the world.
As if that wasn’t enough, it was recently announced that Riverdale would be getting its second season after the show’s initial success. Although the role has skyrocketed his popularity – he now has more than 750,000 followers on Instagram – KJ says the fame won’t change him. “It’s all good… It’s just a job at the end of the day and we’re all just going to work and getting it done.”
Make sure to catch Season 1 of Riverdale on Netflix screening weekly on Saturdays.