Samoan-born Ray Chong Nee explains how he can relate to Shakespeare’s Othello.

Ray Chong Nee knew he had an Othello in him. He knew it the moment he saw the advertising banners for Bell Shakespeare’s 2007 Othellowith the indigenous actor Wayne Blair in the title role.

Chong Nee, a couple of years out of his drama studies at the University of Southern Queensland and learning the ropes on projects ranging from a live stage version of Bananas in Pyjamasto the steamy queer musical Tango Masculino, realised that playing The Moor someday was, “on his radar”.

Bell Shakespeare’s Othello. Photos by Daniel Boud

“From then, but not before then, I knew it was something I could possiblydo, being an actor of colour,” says Chong Nee, who is about to star in Bell Shakespeare’s new Othello, directed by Peter Evans. “Seeing the banners for that show on the lamp posts put something into my brain, and I knew from then on I had to seek out all the avenues that might lead me to playing that role.”

Born in Samoa, into a family of mixed Samoan-Chinese heritage, Chong Nee...