Oscar Kightley is a writer, actor, director and television presenter and broadcaster.
Born in Apia in Samoa, he emigrated to New Zealand aged four and grew up in West Auckland. He began his career as a reporter with the Auckland Star, Sunday Star, and Independent Radio News before moving to Christchurch in 1990 to work on TVNZ's teenage show Life 91, while at the same time becoming part of The Performing Arts Trust.
Oscar first recognised his ability to make people laugh when he was a schoolboy and at Rutherford High he developed his skills in humour and English (but not maths!) further. Following a cadetship at The Auckland Star, Oscar moved into working in radio and television starting behind the scenes and then moving to a presenting role with Life in The Fridge based in Christchurch He helped establish Pacific Underground (a Christchurch-based theatre group), where his first co-written play Fresh off the Boat was developed. In 1996, A Frigate Bird Sings (co-written with David Fane), gained success at the 1996 New Zealand International Arts Festival; Oscar's first solo venture as a playwright, Dawn Raids, premiered in Auckland in 1997 and in 1998 he was awarded the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. In 2004, Oscar wrote Niu Sila with Dave Armstrong, which played to sell-out crowds.
Oscar is a member of the Naked Samoans comedy group, who performed in the International Laugh Festivals, from 1998 to 2002. He co-hosted TV3's coverage of Super 12 Rugby and the weekly sports show, SPORTZAH as well as being a writer/performer for Skitz and Telly Laughs for TV3. He has been on the Panel for TV3 in a story-liner for Shortland Street and has featured on documentaries about the Otara Markets and Racism in New Zealand in 2001/2002. Oscar is also a presenter on Nui FM's breakfast show. He currently works with the Naked Samoans on the TV3 series bro' Town which won Best Comedy at the 2005 and 2006 NZ Screen Awards, where Oscar also won Best Script for Comedy along with Shimpel Leilisi, Dave Fane and Mario Gaoa. He acted and co-wrote the hit film Sione's Wedding that reached the number one position in the New Zealand box office in its first week of release and had the biggest opening weekend of any New Zealand-made film, grossing over $3 million. A 2006 Laureate Award winner and Qantas award winning journalist, Oscar also co-founded Pacific Underground and the Island Players theatre company which has produced critically acclaimed work.
From humble beginnings, Oscar has emerged as a leader and role model to many in the Pacific Island community. He has never lost sight of what he regards as his obligation to lead and inspire others. He lives by the theme that there is no point in blaming others for failure and frequently quotes Gandhi, “No-one else has to change, just you.”
Oscar is unafraid to address sensitive issues such as violence and drinking through his productions, yet he manages to do so with warmth and humour. His leadership style is to develop other people’s ideas and provide opportunities for development. A regular motivational speaker at secondary schools, Oscar is also a Books in Homes Ambassador. Oscar received a Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand in 2006 and was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Council of Creative New Zealand in 2007.
• After Dinner
• Master of Ceremonies
“Cheers Oscar for making last Thursday such a great night. You were absolutely spot on with everything... reverence and irreverence in just the right measure. So thank you bro ... much appreciated ... you got to do it next year now! Anthony Healey, Director, NZ Operations APRA|AMCOS
“Having an MC of Oscar’s calibre, profile and style helped make the evening very successful, run very smoothly and stay on time. And, we all thoroughly enjoyed his company. Over 2,000 attended and surveys reveal the most commonly used adjective was FANTASTIC”. Helen Telford, New Plymouth District Council