Our Community | Conversation with Crystal Vaega

Kia ora Crystal, so tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re currently based?

I am a daughter of Samoa, 685 till I die! I'm a mother of 2 beautiful bubbly bashful little boys, a wife, a sister and a great friend to many. I live in Tāmaki Mākaurau where I grew up and I work in the Film & TV industry as a Producer and storyteller. It's taken a hot minute to get my circle quite right but I have to say that since I did, my life has gotten better for it. I'm surrounded by some incredibly inspiring and creative friends who support my hustle as I do theirs. I like this vibe of lifting each other up in all our wins and cushioning each other during the lulls but my heart always beats a little faster when the work I do advocates for more marginalised communities like women, POC and Pasifika.

Can you tell us a little bit about your mahi and how you got into it?

I studied communications at AUT and through that journey I had privileged people tell me I was in the wrong lane almost everyday. Fast forward a couply years and I am on the Producing team for the first ever Polynesian Premium TV Drama. I learned my passion is storytelling, namely Māori and Pasifika storytelling. This industry is really about networking and connectivity, it's about who you know. But in saying that anyone can give you an opportunity... It's what you do with it that counts! So I'm currently in Post Production for a drama about the Polynesian Panthers and their activism through a racist government in Aotearoa during the 1970s, titled 'The Panthers'. I don't see myself moving from this space so the industry best be ready for a wee shake up :)

You deal with the community everyday in some shape or form, how do you find that aspect of your mahi?

Experience and credentials are this industry's version of a CV right.. in my opinion - you can have all the experience in the land but if you can't read the room that experience don't mean sh*t. I think it's important to break the hierarchical boundaries in Film and TV and be more inclusive and approachable! I love finding fresh voices to bring into the fold but still enjoy working with some of the best in the game to learn from them too. My mahi is all about people and it's my favourite part along with storytelling, so I have to be adaptable, innovative and most importantly teachable. You can survive off energy and if the energy ain't right... it's a domino effect. 

So you’re doing all this, and still managing to be an awesome Mum. How do you find balancing whanau and mahi? Any tips for those young parents out there?

How do you eat a whale? ONE BITE AT A TIME! I take each day as it comes, I have the support of my husband and whānau so I'm really fortunate in that regard but I couldn't have done without my husband who agreed to flip the script on society and be a stay at home dad when I went back to mahi 3 weeks after giving birth. The days are hella long on set and then still breastfeeding when I got home.... but this is bigger than me, so I just took it one bite at a time, didnt worry myself with the things I couldn't control and focussed on the things I could change. It's honestly bloody hard! Haha I am far from perfect, there were definitely tears and troubled days but positive affirmations got me a long way. Some mornings I looked in the mirror and said to myself "you're a bad b*tch, now go and do it cos if you wont, no one else will. And you're a beautiful amazing human!" *wink + lipstick kiss on the mirror* 

My tip is-do what works for you! There is no instruction manual in the world that will plan this out for you. It's your family, it's your life so if it works for you then that's perfect! Don't compare yourselves to people on the internet!

Ok so you and the whanau have got a long week free with zero plans. Where would you go and what would you do?

Take our boys on an adventure doing crazy activities (ideally in Samoa) til they crash from exhaustion then get lit with my husband under the stars. Maybe a skinny dip for old times sake and to be honest all our friends and fam will be there cos... ENERGY! My friends and fam gas me up so hard that's why I go so hard in this crazy thing called life.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, or someone else, what would it be and why?

LISTEN TO MY PARENTS! Before honour comes humility which translates to me kinda like anything is hard before it's easy. I had quite a difficult relationship with my mum growing up but life has journeyed me through to learn that she had my best interests at heart and loves me more than life itself so now knowing my first and most important job is being my son's protector even when they don't see what I do. Oh the retrospect is real!

Where can people find you?

In their dreams... haha Im currently jamming with a very cool mahi dog Tom Hern at www.4knightsfilm.com