Full Name: Jay Laga'aia
Birthdate: Sept 10, 1963
Birthplace: New Zealand
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Children: Matthew, Iosefa, Jessica, Nathaniel and Jeremy
Biography: With a career spanning nearly two decades, Laga'aia has become one of New Zealand's most recognized faces. He has hosted a range of television productions, has worked as a breakfast DJ, a comedian, is also an accomplished musician and performer and has a huge body of film, television and theatre work. Multi-talented Jay Laga’aia has built a successful career in New Zealand and Australia, where he is famous for his role as Tommy Tavita in Water Rats, the host of celebrity sting show Surprise Surprise and talent quest Starstruck.
He has also broken into Hollywood with his role as Captain Typho in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, which was filmed in Sydney and is now in release, accompanied by a Captain Typho action figure. To give an indication of his upward career path: as a kid in the 1970s, he sold bottles in South Auckland to raise the money to see the original Star Wars. In the 1990s he took his son to the Sydney premiere of Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace, and in 2002, he’s .in Star Wars II.
His role as David Silesi in Street Legal was created especially for him by series writer Greg McGee, with a lot of input from Laga’aia himself, who left Water Rats to return to New Zealand for the first series in 1998. Since then, he has truly made the role his own.Born in 1963 in South Auckland to Samoan parents, Laga’aia grew up in South Auckland and Ponsonby and now has dual citizenship of New Zealand and Australia. He was offered Australian citizenship in 1999 by the Australia Day Council to celebrate and publicise the national day.
The middle child of a family of eight, he has family connections with the justice system – a brother works in the High Court and a sister is a senior warden at Mt Eden Prison. Although he was always a performer, it was sport that first captured his attention and he originally wanted to be a rugby player.One of his first jobs was as a council worker teaching streetkids to play musical instruments. When TVNZ made a documentary about the kids, he was the liaison officer. He was then offered an acting role in Heroes, a TVNZ drama about four young people who form a band.
From there, he acted in many New Zealand dramas, including Gloss, Strangers, Open House and Marlin Bay; offshore productions filmed in New Zealand, such as Mysterious Island, High Tide, The Further Adventures of the Black Stallion, The Other Side of Paradise and Soldier Soldier; plus New Zealand feature films The Navigator, directed by Vincent Ward and Never Say Die, directed by Geoff Murphy. His Australian work also includes Violent Earth, Tales of the South Seas and Green Sails, a US telemovie. More recently, he was the recurring guest lead villain, Draco, in the international hit US series Xena: Warrior Princess.
Alongside his acting career, he has also worked as a presenter, achieving national recognition for Your Choice, Telequest, Telethon This Week and the Coke 48-Hour Music Show. He also presented Cyclone Ofa, a TVNZ documentary about the disaster in Samoa. In Australia, he was presenter of Robot Wars and a special guest on Playschool.
His musical and singing talent led to starring roles in musical theatre in New Zealand and Australia, including The New Rocky Horror Show, Jesus Christ Superstar and Ladies Night. He composed and arranged “Let’s Party”, the successful single release from the Water Rats album and the soundtrack for the funeral sequence in Green Sails. He recently played percussion with Russell Crowe’s 30-Odd Foot of Grunts at their Sydney concert. He also has a background as a radio host, most notably in the early 1990s, he teamed with Temuera Morrison in a popular and very funny breakfast show on Radio Aotearoa.
Jay and his wife Sandie have four children, Matthew, 9, Iosefa, 3, Jessica, 2 and baby Nathaniel, born in October 2001 and named for Jay’s good friend, actor Nathaniel Lees. Jay also has an older son, Jeremy, 17, from a previous relationship.