IT'S A STORY straight out of Hollywood: A New Zealand teen joins a drama group, mostly to skip classes (but honestly to waste time). He’s sporty, with a plan to play pro rugby. But he’s surprisingly good at acting. Enjoys it even. He does some theater, a few short films—but secretly, and on the side. By 21, he’s chasing down the dream.
Now 25, Beulah Koale beat out 1,500 actors to play the American Samoan soldier, Solo, opposite Miles Teller in DreamWorks’ biographical war drama, Thank You for Your Service. The moment Koale learned he was cast? “I completely lost it,” he says. “I was running around the office screaming, throwing stuff, crying, laughing—it was true bliss.” The experience helped prepare Koale to portray Junior Reigns on season 8 of Hawaii Five-0. “But Junior Reigns ain’t your regular soldier; he’s a Navy SEAL,” says Koale, who certainly brings muscle to the high-octane show.
With his repertoire growing, the newcomer is shooting for the stars. Should the opportunity to work with his idol, Denzel Washington, present itself: “I’d probably cry,” says Koale, who ultimately hopes to tell gritty stories in the character-driven films he loves. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be an actor. … I guess you just have to roll with the punches.” Hit after hit, apparently.
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