Samoan actor wins disability award

A Samoan dancer and actor living with a disability, Lusi Faiva, has been awarded the Spirit of Attitude Award at the 2020 Attitude Awards.

The 2020 Attitude Awards recognizes New Zealanders who have made an impact in the disability community and celebrates and acknowledges their successes while living with disability.

Ms Faiva was one of three nominees for the Spirit of Attitude Award, which recognises someone who has had a unique journey and has risen to the challenges of their disability, and applied a positive 'can-do' spirit. 

Ms Faiva was born with cerebral palsy and as a dancer she communicates through dancing. She lives for the everyday challenge that pushes her to be more determined and is a role model for both those living with a disability and others. 

The winner of the award is a person who would have overcome significant personal challenges to achieve their personal goals. 

According to Tagata Pasifika, Ms Faiva was taken away from her birth parents by the State and was placed in an institution. 

The Jones family that adopted her gave her the support she needed and enabled her to have continued development. She was reconnected with her birth mother and Samoan culture when she was only 13-years-old. 

Ms Faiva has been involved in the performing arts world for more than 29 years and was the founding member of Touch Compass in 1996.

She has since toured with ‘Outer Limits’ in New Zealand and Australia and her latest work/short film ‘Becoming Masina’ was shown at the DocEdge’s Film Festival, coming second at the festival.

Ms Faiva was commended at the 2019 Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards for her long-established dance career, outstanding advocacy for inclusive dance, and commitment to continue learning, teaching, collaborating and contributing.

The Attitude Awards, now in its 13th year, has nine categories ranging from sporting achievements to youth awards.

In an interview Ms Faiva had with the Attitude Awards 2020, she spoke briefly of her journey. 

"I must say that life has not been a smooth journey and we have struggled along the way but we are lucky that we've got supportive relatives and friends," she said.

"I just enjoy living life from day to day, that is why it makes it so fundamentally for me to live with positive vibes every day." 

The awards will be broadcast in an hour-long special on Sunday 13 December on TVNZ 1.

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