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Rhian Firmin

Creative Graduate

UCOL creative graduate Rhian Firmin

Sipping a juice at the café Rhian Firmin was managing at the time, she received a text from a friend that would change the direction she was currently heading. She found she was in a rut and wanted to shake life up a bit.

This friend had just signed up to the UCOL performing arts programme, this piqued Rhian’s interest and she too signed up, even though classes had started.

Rhian now claims it’s the best decision she ever made “I have always been passionate about the arts and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life, I never really ‘knew’ it was a valid career path (given I was from a small town and it wasn’t that active there) until I went to UCOL and felt so supported by my tutors and peers and knew this was something I needed to do with my life.”

“I was born and raised in a small town called Marton and went to Rangitikei College (yes you can go places if you grew up in a tiny town!), my Iwi is Ati-Hau-nui-apaparangi and I lived in Marton until I was 18. I moved to Palmerston North when I was 18 to initially study at Massey University and then followed that with UCOL and then Unitec in Auckland. I’ll always consider the Manawatu-Whanganui my home though."

From small town to bright stage lights Rhian is now a mummy, teaching voice, an actor and co-founder of a theatre company called Simple Truth Theatre which is operating both out of Auckland and Christchurch - they have an upcoming nationwide tour of High Schools featuring Miranda Harcourts play ‘Verbatim’ scheduled for this year.

Rhian recently co-wrote and directed a fully original work called Ruminations that created a commentary on the housing crisis, issues around child poverty and mental health awareness and the necessity to start a conversation about it.

With hands juggling multiple tasks and lots of new initiatives to look forward to, we asked Rhian to reflect about her time at UCOL “My study at UCOL was one of my most treasured times, I made the most fantastic lifelong friends and grew exponentially in my confidence and as a person. It was a full-on rollercoaster of emotion, growth and learning and I am so glad I decided to do it.

I would tell my younger self to not be afraid to fail - that this is where the most learning and growth comes from. I would also tell my younger self to get out of my own way and not be afraid to shine bright.”


The performing arts qualification mentioned is no longer offered at UCOL, instead we have an extensive range of creative programmes that cover a range of arts and design subjects including fashion design, illustration, 3D, videography, photography and glass art.

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