KJ Apa biography
Date of Birth: June 16, 1997
Birth Name: Keneti James Fitzgerald Apa
The youngest of three siblings born in Auckland, New Zealand to Kiwi mother Tessa and Samoan father, Keneti Apa, KJ grew up an avid guitarist, playing at home and on street corners around Auckland. KJ even brings a guitar with him on location and often joins street musicians while he’s shooting. The passionate musician also writes songs, recorded a solo guitar album at 14, and was in a band back in New Zealand. Apa says his favorite band is Van Halen.
Apa takes pride in his Samoan heritage and even has a traditional Samoan tattoo on his right shoulder, which was intended to be the start of an eventual full sleeve, which he’s put on hold so it doesn’t limit his options while he pursues acting.
Apa got his start play Kane Jenkins on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street in 2013, and had a six episode arc on the first season of The Cul de Sac in 2016. Apa is currently starring as Archie Andrews on the CW/Netflix original series Riverdale, for which he's best known.
Apa has naturally dark brown hair and had to spend hours in a salon to get Archie’s signature red hair before filming started. He now has to spend two and a half hours every two weeks getting the color touched up. While he finds that irritating, he said the thing he finds the most challenging about starring in Riverdale is being from New Zealand, while playing such an iconic American teenager. Archie plays guitar and sings on the show, and KJ said that although he's been playing guitar for years, singing was a new and nervous experience for him.
In a Facebook Live Q&A KJ said he went to a private school that “was 100 per cent like Hogwarts, we had houses and everything.” Apa also said he’d be a Slytherin if he had actually gone to the wizarding school.
In September 2017 KJ fell asleep at the wheel driving home from set after a 14-hour work day while filming season 2 of Riverdale. KJ was checked at the scene by first responders and had only minor injuries, although his car was totalled. Luckily, his co-star Cole Sprouse, who was originally going to get a ride with KJ, bowed out at the last minute.
He’s currently got two film credits, the first as Teen Ethan Montgomery in the major motion picture A Dog’s Purpose (2017), the second in Altar Rock (2018), an upcoming film about the Boston Marathon bombing, which is currently in post production.
KJ says he and the cast of Riverdale have been really good friends, including Cole Sprouse, with whom he's gone on camping trips, especially while traveling from the Los Angeles area to Vancouver, where the show is filmed.
Bio photo by Lula Cucchiara. Bio by Hayley Michaud.
KJ Apa Filmography