Ursula actress inspiring Utah's Pacific Islander community


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SANDY — "The Little Mermaid" production is making a splash at the Hale Centre Theatre.

A show favorite is Ursula, and KSL-TV's Tamara Vaifanua caught up with the Pacific Islander actress who portrays the villain and is inspiring her community.

Luseane Pasa, who goes by Lucy, began wowing crowds at a young age.

She instantly fell in love with musical theater but didn't know if she could cut it and make her dream a reality. Then, Pasa found herself in the role of the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid."

Luseane Pasa, who goes by Lucy, began wowing crowds at a young age. Now she's inspiring her whole Pacific Islander community in the role of the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid" at Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy.
Luseane Pasa, who goes by Lucy, began wowing crowds at a young age. Now she's inspiring her whole Pacific Islander community in the role of the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid" at Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy. (Photo: KSL-TV)

"Ursula is one of my favorite villains of all time and it's a dream role of mine to play," Pasa said, adding the role is challenging both mentally and technically.

"I had to reach for my inner nasty to make her what I made her," she said. "I have no control of where I go in this."

A team of actors helps maneuver her tentacled costume.

"I put my safety basically in six tentacles that I have."

With two wardrobe changes, makeup and hair, the glittery villainess — who tricks ariel into selling her voice for a pair of legs — comes alive.

"She's different from everyone else and so I kind of relate to that," Pasa said.

Growing up in California, Pasa put on talent shows for her family and yearned for the limelight by high school.

"In elementary school, I tried out for my first musical. I fell in love with it," she said. "But I never saw someone who looked like me on stage or on screen. As Polynesian people, we can sing, dance, stuff like that, so I thought why not take my talents to the stage?"

Luseane Pasa, who goes by Lucy, began wowing crowds at a young age. Now she's inspiring her whole Pacific Islander community in the role of the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid" at Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy.
Luseane Pasa, who goes by Lucy, began wowing crowds at a young age. Now she's inspiring her whole Pacific Islander community in the role of the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid" at Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy. (Photo: KSL-TV)

A move to Utah five years ago changed her life.

"I actually came to this theatre to watch 'Newsies.' As I sat there and I watched it, I was tearing up and I said that's what I want to do."

A year later, she auditioned for the show and got her first role.

"I actually originally went to school to be a choir teacher," Pasa said. "I never thought I could make a living out of performing."

Her career path hasn't been easy.

"No matter how many times you get no, keep getting no's until you finally get that one yes," Pasa said.

Luseane Pasa, who goes by Lucy, began wowing crowds at a young age. Now she's inspiring her whole Pacific Islander community in the role of the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid" at Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy.
Luseane Pasa, who goes by Lucy, began wowing crowds at a young age. Now she's inspiring her whole Pacific Islander community in the role of the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid" at Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy. (Photo: KSL-TV)

But she said representation matters and more Pacific Islanders can make their mark too.

"Even if you don't want to be on stage, you could do hair and makeup," Pasa said. "You could do wardrobe. You could work props."

Pasa plans to work in the industry for a long time – and represent her community.

"My dad passed away back in 2015," she said. "If anything, I hope I'm making my dad proud."

There's still time to check out the underwater adventure. "The Little Mermaid" runs through Jan. 28 at Hale Centre Theatre. Get tickets here or by calling the box office at 801-984-9000.

You can catch Lucy's performance as Ursula on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in the 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows.

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EntertainmentLifestyleMulticultural UtahUtahSalt Lake County
Tamara Vaifanua

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