Top model shares key to success

By Sina Filifilia Seva’aetasi ,

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Enid Westerlund, Sam Tautua and Mum Tala Leiataua at Taumeasina Island Resort.

Enid Westerlund, Sam Tautua and Mum Tala Leiataua at Taumeasina Island Resort. (Photo: Aruna Lolani)

A top Samoan international model is in the country.

Sam Tautua has teamed up with the Samoa Sinnet Fashion Show (S.S.F.S) to share his experiences with the fashion industry in the hope to inspire and motivate others who are thinking of joining the modelling industry.

 “A lot of people think I wanna be a model, I wanna be a T.V. presenter, but how do you get there?” Sam shared during a press conference at Taumeasina Island Resort yesterday. 

“So I’m here to share that information.  Samoa Sinnet Fashion Show shares how you get there with the designers and models and producers behind the big picture.  How do we collaborate to get Samoa on the international map?” 

Fashion Designer and the key woman driving S.S.F.S, Enid Westerlund, said it is important to have Sam in Samoa.

 “Sometimes when you bring an international model our people don’t connect to that.  We need our person who has been out there done it, whose been a success coming in to Samoa and giving this talk. “ 

Sam has come a long way.

 “To me it was foreign territory,” he recalled when he first started. “I didn’t know any Samoan models, male or female when I entered.  Our look wasn’t even out there so how will I get work? How will I sustain an income? How would I get paid for doing something like that?”

With roots in Fasitoo-Uta, Manono-Tai, and Fallesiu, Sam said being Samoan  helped him stand out in the crowd.  

“When I got discovered they asked me  about my heritage and I said Samoan,.  It’s so rare that our culture, besides the Rock, it is unique. You stand out straight away and so there’s room to be unique in being Samoan and the rest is just who you are as a person.  

“I’ve been to a lot of auditions and I spoke in Samoan because they didn’t believe me.  It’s a point of difference and that’s what the industry is and you have to be unique.

“We grew up really faasamoa, so it was super strict. Part of that is the whole Samoan culture, be humble, be grateful, make sure you don’t go crazy with your ego. 

“A lot of that I had to break in my adult life and it was about really owning what my own passions are. A lot of that was forming my own spiritual belief, so  when it came time I have tools to get those nerves in control so it can serve you in the runway.”  

Starting his career as a model at 33, Sam went through a number of careers until he found his passion.

“There’s no age restriction, “ he explained. “Straight out of school I was a real estate  agent for six years.  At the same time, I was studying a diploma in financial services.  I knew how to sell; it was very natural to me.  At the end of six years, I just thought, I don’t want to be selling houses for the rest of my life.”   

“I had graduated in finance by then and then I ended up working  for the government for eight years doing pro-bate law.  Then I was in middle management and managing teams.  

“Then after I got poached by the biggest trustee company in the Southern Hemisphere and I was one of the senior managers for their national teams.”

He was 28 at the time.

“I noticed I was given the jobs to present this product and sell it to this platform and so I had people saying you should be a presenter. But I thought, “Nah not really.”

“In my twenties I had two modeling agencies approach me just off the street but I wasn’t interested.

“Then when I hit my thirties, my intuition was speaking to me.  My intuition was saying , “This is the time you start taking bigger risks and you start doing what’s natural to you.”  

The rest is history.

He became the first Pacific islander to walk for London Fashion Week 2012, a Nominee for Britain’s finest Male Model of the year (2012) and the face for Australian Tourism among his many accomplishments.

He has also modeled for some of the most famous runways, peered out from the cover of magazines and has been modelling for global brands such as BMW, Marlboro, MacDonald’s, FORD Motor Co., Budlight beer, Nissan, Sony and many others.

His last words for the young people of Samoa?

“Don’t be shy, be strong with what you want to do in whatever your belief system is.  No ones going to believe you if you don’t believe yourself.  I think it’s really basic.  Be humble. Dream bigger than the island; bigger than the country and go for it.” 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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