Shorty comes calling for Shavaughn Ruakere

NICOLA RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2011
mylife
Gorgeous Shavaughn Ruakere has left TV presenting behind.

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She's interviewed Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves and now she's landed her dream role – as an actor on Kiwi soap institution Shortland Street.

Meet Shavaughn Ruakere, the beautiful presenter turned actor best known in New Zealand as a presenter for What Now and C4.

After a two-year hiatus from the screen, the 32-year-old has recently landed the role of nurse Roimata Ngatai .

"A couple of years back I went 'I really want to act now'. I thought it would be best if I left presenting (at C4) because you worry that you'll go into auditions and they look at you as a presenter."

In the UK, Ruakere is known for her stint on SMTV, the London-based equivalent to What Now, except with an audience of a million viewers.

It was here she interviewed the aforementioned hunky celebrities, the cast of Harry Potter, Andy Serkis (Gollum) and various other stars.

Depp however was Ruakere's favourite."I really liked him, he had a hat on and those big round thick framed glasses and his goatee. It was for the second Pirates of the Carribean movie and I made him close his eyes and I dressed as a pirate. I said, `Are you peeking Johnny Depp? OK, open your eyes. Arrrrrrr!' and he was like, `Oh yeah, you can be in the movie'," says Ruakere, bursting into laughter.

Ruakere laughs so much it is intrinsic to her speech. She is a bundle of energy, her leg jittering the entire interview. Lively and fun, it is easy to see how she held audiences' attention as a presenter.

She literally fell into acting at 18, when an agent approached her while she was shopping in a clothing store. She landed her first job, on What Now, after one audition. This meant a move from Auckland, where she was a BA student, to full-time work as a presenter in Christchurch.

It's hard to believe, but Ruakere says she was painfully shy as a child. "I still have a lot of that hanging over me, a lot of people meet me and go `I don't believe that because you seem so bubbly', [but] I'm one of those typical introverts who has chosen an extroverted field to work in."

But she plays the entertainer among her family, too. "One of our marae is about 10 minutes out of Taranaki but its right next to a river and the ocean mouth and its my one spot in the world, it's my special, special spot."

Started by her mum and her "cricket mad" dad the annual family holiday is open to extended family and friends (sometimes up to 80 people). The last weekend includes a family cricket match, a hangi, and this year, pa wars.

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"Because I was a kid's presenter I am always the one who has to organise the entertainment. So we had pa wars, which was two obstacle courses we set up. The losing team had to jump in the river with their clothes on but then everyone jumped in the river with their clothes on. It was just so fun."

Ruakere's New Years resolution along with flatmate Nick D, is to get her drivers licence.

"I know we are so ridiculous. When you say to people you don't drive you may as well have said `I like to slaughter little kittens'."

But a serious accident on a Wellington motorway more than a decade ago made driving look like a dangerous endeavour.

"I built it up to be this massive responsibility. I was in a car crash where my friend came within an inch of his life. He was driving, and we just got sun strike... absolutely blinded by the sun and smashed into the back of a truck. There was nothing he could have done, it was completely outside of his control."

"I came to and I was looking at him and the entire windscreen had buckled in to a point on his throat and he was unconscious.

"This old woman grabbed me and took me to the side of the motorway. I had blood pouring down my face and I was bawling my eyes out and I didn't know if he was alive or dead. I was lying on the ground and then I heard `Oi, its that chick off What Now', and I looked up and this guy's pointing at me and going to his mates, `go have a look'," Ruakere says, laughing incredulously.

Both she and her friend thankfully escaped without lasting injuries.

She grew up in New Plymouth, where her parents still live. Home now is a talent-filled flat in Grey Lynn with presenter and radio host, Nick D, musician Hollie Smith and boyfriend of three and a half years, Liam Greenway, landscape designer.

And very much a part of the family are the animals who reside there, the only babies Ruakere wants for a while.

"Maybe babies [but] definitely not yet. I am happy with animals at the moment."

One of her dogs, Leila, just two weeks shy of 15, just died, leaving a big gap for Ruakere and Liam who had her since she was a baby.

"She was such a lovely soul, Liam's had her forever. He's a real salt of the earth kind of dude."

There is also Clemency, the pug who came with the house.

She is so old Ruakere has to carry her to the park.

"She's close to 12 years old and you know what pugs look like. They are ridiculous. There's nothing closer to an actual monster. She's an abomination, but she's awesome."

Once a week the flatties manage to get together to share a meal.

"My boyfriend's a great chef and he makes amazing meals for us and we have to go around and say what the best part of our day was.

"It's a good thing because it reminds you that there was something really good in your day and you get to tell your mates and be grateful for your life."

So what's she been saying lately?

"I've been pretty happy about this for quite some time! Mine's the same each time. I was a good actor!"

- Sunday News

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