Amanda Millar has over 30 years of journalism experience, much of it involving current affairs programmes. En route she has won almost 20 awards, including Qantas Media Awards for Best Current Affairs Reporter in 2000 and 2005, and Best Interviewer for seven years out of eight.
Millar covered many high profile stories for 60 Minutes and 20/20 — including interviews with 'Parnell Panther' rapist Mark Stephens (who took six years to agree to be interviewed), ex Assistant Commissioner of Police Clint Rickards, a Wairoa couple who had conjoined twins and then lost them, and lawyer Greg King, who was interviewed while he was defending Ewen Macdonald over the murder of Scott Guy. Millar told The Dominion Post in 2009 that "80 per cent of the job" was persuading people to go in front of the camera.
In 1998 Millar faced threats, and attacks from fellow journalists, after a 20/20 story which saw Christchurch GP and sexual predator Morgan Fahey confronted by a former patient with a hidden camera. Police laid charges against Fahey after it went to air. He later pleaded guilty to charges involving 11 women. "The story had been lurking for a long time," said Millar, who spent three years working on it. "...various journalists had tried to get something published or a story run. But Fahey had either threatened all sorts of legal action, or they had just never had the evidence".
Millar began her journalism career at the Dunedin Evening Star. She loved the discipline of having to work under pressure: "you can't beat being in a newspaper office for your initial training". Television first entered the picture because the newspaper folded, and Millar didn't want to leave hometown Dunedin. Later she moved to work on long-running consumer rights show Fair Go; she did shorter stints on Country Calendar and current affairs show Frontline.
In late 1989 Millar left TVNZ and began freelance reporting, producing and directing for newly launched channel TV3. "We all felt like rebels," she says. "Some of us had been physically frog-marched from TVNZ premises".
TV3's flagship current affairs show at the time was 60 Minutes. Millar and Max Adams contributed local stories, which screened alongside stories from the New York and Australian editions of the show. In 1998 Millar moved to 20/20, although she would return to 60 Minutes in 2003.
Her documentary work includes directing this 1996 episode of An Immigrant Nation, about German immigrants to New Zealand. In 1990 she and Adams completed Lew Pryme: Welcome to my World. It examined how Pryme, 60s pop star, music promoter and executive in the Auckland Rugby Union, had hidden from colleagues and family that he was gay, and that he had AIDS. On the proviso that the interview only be screened after his death, Millar gained the trust of Pryme and his partner to discuss their HIV/AIDS diagnoses. The couple died in 1990, within a week of each other.
At the end of 2010, Millar left her reporting and producing job at 60 Minutes after the closure of the show's Wellington office. Millar went on to spend 18 months as a freelance journalist for TVNZ's Sunday, where she won another current affairs award. She also did interviews and research for Screentime shows Beyond the Darklands and I Am Innocent, and made regular contributions to Radio New Zealand National.
After roughly 25 years in television, Millar "wanted to do other things and work with other people". She launched Amanda Millar & Co, a media advice and communications company aimed at creating "compelling communicators".
In 2018 she directed and produced her first feature film, despite the challenges of having "no money, no broadcaster". Celia is a portrait of late author and social justice advocate Celia Lashlie, who Millar remembers as "one of the most charismatic and powerful influences" in her life. Millar first managed to persuade Lashlie to do an interview for 20/20 in 2001. Viewers loved Lashlie's "'no shit' approach". After Lashlie was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she asked Millar to make a film about her work. Celia debuted at the 2018 NZ International Film Festival; in a four star review, Graeme Tuckett called it engrossing, "timely, clear-eyed and necessary".
Profile updated on 9 August 2018
Amanda Millar and Co website. Accessed 9 August 2018
Alison Horwood and Jan Corbett, 'Fahey - sexual predator in a white coat' - The NZ Herald, 30 June 2000
Julie Jacobson, 'Close-up of a news addict' (Interview) - The Dominion Post (TV Week pullout), 18 August 2009, page T6
Sarah Lang, '3's company' - The NZ Herald, 23 November 2009
Steve Newall, 'NZIFF Q&A: Celia' (Interview) Flicks website. Loaded 10 July 2018. Accessed 9 August 2018
Graeme Tuckett, 'Celia: A timely, clear-eyed and necessary Kiwi documentary' (Review) Stuff website. Loaded 9 August 2018. Accessed 9 August 2018
'Amanda Millar' LinkedIn website. Accessed 9 August 2018
'Amanda Millar' (broken link) TV3 website. Accessed 2 June 2011