Interview with Sam Cooper
Q. What is your name?
Samaire Louise Cooper. I'm 'Sam' to everyone (apart from the ones I'm 'Mum' to). I was named Sandra at birth (but was known as Sam) then I came across the name Samaire in adulthood and thought it was really lovely. I made the choice to legally change my first name because I disliked the name 'Sandy' that had followed me all through my schooling. (PS. I think Samaire is an alternative/mis-spelling of Samira/Samir and have read that it means entertainer!)
Q. Where does your family hail from?
My family live throughout the North and South Islands of NZ (and a few in the United Kingdom currently) but Nelson has long been the central meeting place with much of the extended family settling in the area. My brother and sister (and myself in the middle) were born and raised in suburban Auckland, where our father's parents and grandparents had lived. Our mother grew up near Maungatautari, in a remote farming area of the Waikato. My eldest child was also born in the Waikato region and subsequent two children in Nelson. My partner has strong ties to the Manawatu region, with several generations of his family growing up in the small town of Ashhurst. My little 'mixed' family are now living in Appleby, Nelson.
Q. How did you get into acting and what do you get out of it?
I discovered Drama in my formative teenage years and found the perfect way of cracking through the outer shell of my shyness. Following college, I went on to do a Diploma in Performing Arts course, graduating in 1998. 20 years (and a student loan) later....a bit of local amateur theatre involvement, a few improv/story-telling classes with Lisa (writer of The Girl who Climbed a Mountain) and here I am! While I refrain from calling myself an actor (rather 'middle-aged mother of three facing her fears'!), I think Drama can teach you more than just how to be an actor - it is a way of finding your voice, being more present, getting out of your comfort zone, learning to embrace failure, laughing at yourself, etc etc etc.
Q. Do you have a favourite mountain?
I'm not much of a mountain-climbing person but the mountains that are most nostalgic to me are the volcanoes of the North Shore of Auckland - exploring the tunnels on Maungauika/North Head; the view of Rangitoto. My favourite quote/analogy about a mountain: 'It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top' (Robert M. Pirsig).
Q. Why is having a voice important?
As someone who finds it difficult to voice my beliefs and opinions, I think voices are so powerful and that one voice NOT spoken can make a difference. Using your voice takes courage and when you speak up, you almost always speak for others who feel the same as you but are too scared to use their voice.
Q. What is your view on the state of our planet, Earth?
We need the Earth more than it needs us so I wish for a world where we nurture the Earth more. I don't have a grand plan to save the world but my wish is for all people to do 'just a little' because collectively, all those little things can make a big difference.
8. Is there anything you'd like to say about this play?
I think 'The Girl Who Climbed a Mountain and Saved the World' will stir people's thinking and give the watcher a sense of hope and, maybe, a little more light in the world.