Grace is a woman of many talents and her accolades are quickly accumulating. Vocationally, she is a theatre director, published writer, spoken word poet, mentor and youth development worker. She was named the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards Emerging Pacific Artist in 2014 and the Auckland Writer’s Festival Poetry Idol winner in 2008. For her dedication and involvement in the community, she was a recipient of the 2012 World of Difference award. The award, financially and professionally awards people who demonstrate exceptional commitment to their
At the centre of Grace’s practice is a genuine love for community. Through teaching, she helps others to find their personal voice, insisting that storytelling is an accessible and universal tool for empowerment. Grace’s own written poetry is open and autobiographical, inviting the audience to know her more intimately. Her spoken word performances are even more intimate, combining heart and soul with words.
Much of Grace’s writing practice is influenced by her upbringing as a Afakasi Samoan and English woman. Grace’s debut collection of poetry, Afakasi Speaks, released in 2013, looks at the ever-ambiguous Afakasi identity. The works explore the perspective of Afakasi, who teeter between brown and white skin, and what this ethnic and cultural combination means for their place in society. Afakasi are often unsure of where they belong, literally sitting between two cultures with their bi-racial backgrounds. Afakasi Speaks has gained major critical acclaim, even being the central inspiration for 2015 contemporary dance sensation titled MOTHER/JAW choreographed by Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala and Grace Woollett.
Grace’s work includes writing and performing her theatre show with Auckland Theatre Company My Own Darling, Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland, 2015; Skin, Auckland Theatre Company, 2014; NZ at Edinburgh, International Scottish Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh, 2014 and TEDxAuckland, Aotea Centre, Auckland, 2013. Grace’s published work includes Afakasi Speaks, ALA Press, Hawaii, 2013 and FULL BROKEN BLOOM, 2016.