By Melissa Romualdi.

KJ Apa has officially become a Samoan chief following a traditional ceremony.

The actor revealed the news on Instagram, sharing a photo of himself at the ceremony held in the village of Moata’a, located on the island of Upolu in Samoa.

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The “Riverdale” star received the Samoan chief title of Savae before village leaders, according to the local news website Talamua.

“O la’u fautuaga – o le a ou tautua i le tatou aiga ma le tatou nu’u. Fa’afetai i le Atua,” Apa, 25, captioned the post on Wednesday, which translates to, “My goal is to serve my family and my village (Moata’a) Thank you God.”

The chiefs reportedly praised Apa’s decision to further embrace his Samoan heritage and the responsibilities that come along with the honourary title.

Another outlet, The New Zealand Herald, reported that, during the ceremony, Apa also gave a speech in Samoan, saying that he “wished God’s blessings upon the people of his village, the wider family and all those present [at the ceremony].”

Elsewhere during the ceremony, Apa sung hymns, drank from a coconut shell and later removed the traditional clothing that he wore in order to gift them to the village leaders, a customary act, according to The Herald. 

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Apa has previously opened up about his Samoan heritage. In 2017, he told Vulture that his “culture has always played a massive part of [his] life,” noting that he’s “been surrounded by the culture ever since [he] was a kid.”

While appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in February 2021, the actor explained that his name is Samoan and that “KJ is short for Keneti James.”

“I’m named after my father,” he shared. Apa’s dad, Tupa’i Keneti, is also a chief.

At the time, Apa said he didn’t feel “adequate” enough to become chief, when asked if he would ever take on the “huge responsibility.”


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Ellen Bullock