From NFL to Opera Singer


(dramatic music) – [Ta’u] I am where opera
and football collide. (singing in foreign language) – [Minnie] Ta’u had a long journey to the United States from Tonga. But his journey to center
stage in the opera house took much longer. (singing in foreign language)
(crowd cheering) – [Ta’u] My name is Ta’u Pupu’a. I am an operatic tenor. And I am an immigrant
from the Kingdom of Tonga. (dramatic orchestral music) – My name is Minnie Driver. I am an actress, a singer,
and I am an immigrant. I believe nothing is more
American than its immigrants, so I’m teaming up with Great Big Story to celebrate those that have
come here and left their mark. (dramatic music) (quirky music) – When we moved to America,
I was seven years old. My parents wanted us nine
kids to have a education, and so, America was the
land of opportunity. I started playing football when I was 10. I was fast, I was strong. I knew that my vehicle into college was through playing football. – [Minnie] It turns out Ta’u
was a pretty good linesman. So good, in fact, that when
he graduated from college, he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, but it was his taste in music that often put him in the spotlight. – Before a game, everybody’s listening to
rock ‘n’ roll, heavy metal, and I was the person on the
side listening to “O Sole Mio”, something to you know, inspire me. And then, I got injured and
I broke the arch of my foot and I didn’t know what to do because football was
the only thing I knew. A year later, I just that I decided that I better follow my other love. – [Minnie] So, Ta’u moved to New York to pursue his other passion, opera. – I didn’t know a single soul here. I didn’t know, like, how do
you become an opera singer? The only thing I knew from my
playbooks and playing football was you gotta have a plan. So I thought to myself,
well, to meet people, if I get a job working in a restaurant across the street from Juilliard, you’re gonna have operatic
singers, conductors coming in. – [Minnie] His plan worked. He met a man who helped
him secure an audition at the Juilliard School of Music. – I got into Juilliard
on a full scholarship. I was sort of playing catch up because my colleagues were
learning their solfeggio when they were 17, 18 years old. (piano keys playing)
(Ta’u humming) (singing in foreign language) – [Minnie] And after three
years of rigorous training, he graduated from Juilliard’s top program. He has since traveled the
world singing in opera houses and on concert stages. And today, among opera fans,
Ta’u Pupu’a is a big name. – I was blessed to run
around and sack quarterbacks, and now I sing love songs to sopranos. I like to live in the moment, and my moment now is I am very happy to be an opera singer. (singing in foreign language) To a young Polynesian that
is chasing their dreams, set your goals high, dream
big, and make it reality. (singing in foreign language) (dramatic piano music) (bell echoing)

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Who Is Better?

    Like = Great Big Story

    Comment = Jake Paul

    (Good Luck In School This Year🙌)
    Road To 10K

  2. Pretty cool how even tho he had an NFL contract his first plan was basically what any other student would have done.