Image: Ria Hall
Ever since the release of her debut self-titled EP in 2011, Ria Hall has become one of the fiercest females in Aotearoa’s music scene. Snagging heaps of awards and critical acclaim, her sound fuses furious hip hop beats and richly layered vocals in Te Reo Māori and English, creating an epic soundscape that embraces multiple genres.
But the singer is now branching out, with her first foray into acting coming as one of the stars of the stage show The Beautiful Ones.
“Theatre and getting involved in another creative part of myself has always been in the back of my mind,” she explains.
The show features projected imagery, live music, beats, fierce dance and late night talk colliding to produce an electrifying underground experience with an urban Pacific flavor. Hall also says her character is pretty badass.
“She’s very otherworldly,” she explains. “She doesn’t socialise with other people, but when she performs she gives it everything she has.”
Created by acclaimed Māori writer Hone Kouka, Hall says working with such a talented – and supportive – cast and crew has made the transition into acting that much easier.
“The cast is very dynamic,” she explains. “The team are just wonderful.”
She also has high praise for Kouka.
“He’s so generous in his approach. That’s such a rare quality to have in a person.”
Then there’s the way women in the production are portrayed. “It’s very strong,” she explains. “The presentation of all the characters in the play are extremely strong. They’re portrayed constructively.”
Hall’s foray into acting also comes amid more things she has going on than a person can shake 14 sticks at. Like, for starters, the fact she had a new single, called “Love Will Lead Us Home,” out on November 24.
“It’s a departure from what I normally do,” she explains. “I usually blend Te Reo Māori and English and sing about kaupapa. But this is a very ‘pop’ song. It’s a very personal story. It’s about love – loving who you are. It’s a song of reassurance.”
Oh, and she also is embarking on a tour starting in January. And did we mention her first solo album is also due out in June? In other words, she’s one talented woman who knows a thing or two about balancing boatloads of baddass-ness.
It’s probably no surprise then that Hall also considers herself a feminist.
“Yes, I would consider myself a feminist,” she says. “I think there is strength in subtlety. I am a strong advocate for the rights of indigenous people – our waterways, the earth. It’s about poise as well.”
Her fame also lends a certain responsibility as a role model, she says – and it’s a responsibility she’s more than willing to accept.
“Being a singer, you’re always watched,” Hall explains. “I’m very conscious of that. There’s resolute strength from women in these positions.”