Fasitua Amosa plays Matthew, a young Samoan man from a religious family who has always done the right thing. Then his life takes a sudden and extremely interesting turn.
It all starts with a library book: The Insiders Guide to Happiness. Soon after reading it, Matthew meets the love of his life, and a fate worse than death...
Much like his character in The Insiders Guide to Happiness, fate had already intervened in Fasitua Amosa's life by the time he got one of the lead roles. Even though they are both under 'A' in the Careers' handbook, Fasitua took a U-turn and decided to forgo life in the Army, to become an actor instead.
Prior to this life-changing decision, Fasitua had assumed he'd be a career soldier - ever since becoming involved with the Army cadets as a 3rd former at Kelson Boys High.
"Everyone knew I was going to be a soldier, " he recalls, "But then I did a 6th form production at school and I was with another guy who asked me if I wanted to do this thing outside of school. So I did and then after that it was like 'What happens next?' And he goes: 'Apparently there's this course you can audition for.'"
So, along with about 500 other hopefuls, Fasitua decided to apply for one of the 20 coveted places at Unitec's School of Performing and Screen Arts.
"I thought, 'I'll just audition for this thing and see what happens'," he recalls. " And then I got in! So I thought 'I can either go to the army, or I can do this' because I wasn't sure if the Army was the right thing for me anymore.
"And as soon as I started the course, everything that I had ever done in my life felt like it was geared towards being there. I could see everything that I'd done - every holiday job, every time my dad made us sing, every time I had to do a speech, every time I had to go talk to older Samoan folk and do all this formal stuff that I hated doing& I look back now and I think that was absolutely no accident that I got in."
Playing Matthew on The Insiders Guide to Happiness is Fasitua's first major television role since graduating from Unitec at the end of 2002. He describes his character as "your traditional, nice, Samoan boy".
"Matthew's 28 years old, and the youngest of his family. But he's special in his family in that he's the only one that's actually gone to University and completed a law degree and done those sorts of things. "
What he especially likes about his character is his inner strength: "Matthew is very sure of himself and that helps him through some of the things that he has to go through. He's strong. And he thinks a lot - he likes to think the ideas through and then give a response. So he's quite measured, and doesn't freak out easily."
"But through the series Matthew is affected by so many things. When we first see him, his life has changed dramatically and continues to change. He's got new realities now. He's kind of forced down an alley. He certainly takes more risks after that. And he starts taking the initiative instead of passively following the path that everyone else expected him to follow."
Fasitua says he really wanted this role for several reasons: "When I first read the script I really liked the monologues Matthew does and the voice-overs - they just seemed to be right up my alley... The style of the writing and the ideas that the series deals with & Matthew was asking questions of himself and then trying to figure things out in a logical way.
"I could really identify with that way of operating in my head. Because Matthew is working these things through, and trying to see both sides of an argument. I think to show both sides of something is pretty rare."
One of the biggest acting challenges for Fasitua on Insiders Guide involved playing the 'spirit ghost' of his character.
"That was a lot harder than I thought it would be," he says. "Because it's very rare [for anyone] to get put into an environment where you are totally ignored. It was really hard to keep up trying to communicate with somebody. As the actor [playing the role] you know that nobody can hear you, but the character still tries. And there's a desperation that comes from that. "
On the flip side, Fasitua particularly enjoyed the scenes he had with his on-screen girlfriend, Tess, played by the irrepressible Madeleine Sami. "They were really good. She's pretty full on! We started off on quite a nerve-racking note because our first scene was like, a sex scene. But she hadn't done one either, so that was good."
Something he found much more relaxing - given that he's part of a large Samoan family, with four brothers - were the scenes with his large on-screen family.
"The scenes with my family were really good &definitely the most fun, " he recalls, "Because that felt like home to me. I could relate to that. The respect levels, and all the cultural overlays & But even then there are a lot of Samoan families that you wouldn't even dare speak back to your father! "
Fasitua believes The Insiders Guide to Happiness is about people's relentless search for happiness, and what they are willing to do to get it.
"It's about why people do what they do and what happens to them when they think happiness is somewhere else, over there," he says. "So it's about the hits and misses. And in Matthew's case, the 'what if's' ..."
Just like what happens if you decide to become an actor instead of joining the Army.
How do you want your news
Choose the news you want when you want it, all in one personalised daily e-mail.
TVNZ is available on mobile phones: Text TVNZ to 8869.
See when TVNZ have added new content. You can get the latest headlines anywhere.
Enjoy TVNZ on the move - a wide range of programmes and highlights are available.