Film and television producer Arani Cuthbert is the driving force behind Diva Productions. Active in the local creative sector since the mid-90s, she has worked across the fields of television and the performing arts. In late 2015 she launched talent agency Diva the Agency.
Cuthbert is best known for her work with entertainers Lynda and Jools Topp, possibly the world's only singing, dancing, comic lesbian twin sisters. Cuthbert produced comedy series The Topp Twins, plus Topp Twins doco Untouchable Girls. This series, which ran for three consecutive seasons, broke new ground when it first screened in 1996. It became one of TV3's top-rating shows, and in 1998 the Twins won the NZ Television Award for Best Entertainment or Comedy Performance. From 2014, the Topp and Cuthbert trio found further success with roving food show Topp Country.
The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, directed by Leanne Pooley, is a 2009 feature documentary celebrating their lives and work. Built around a concert that was created specifically for the film, it chronicles the changing times both for the duo, and New Zealand society as a whole. The most successful Kiwi documentary to win theatrical release to date, Untouchable Girls won a 2009 Qantas Award for best feature made for under $1 million. The film has won a long series of awards at festivals worldwide, gay and straight alike.
The following year the Cuthbert-produced TV special The Topp Twins and the APO won best entertainment programme. The special chronicled an April 2010 performance accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Since 1998, Cuthbert has successfully produced international and local comedians for the NZ Comedy Festival. In 2008, she was selected to participate in the ART Venture Accelerator Project Programme, run by the Arts Regional Trust. Two years later she became one of four recipients of a Producer Award from the NZ Film Commission.
In 2015 Cuthbert started talent agency Diva the Agency. The agency currently represents a range of entertainers including Anika Moa, Michele A’Court, Moana & The Tribe, and — of course — The Topp Twins.
Diva Productions website. Accessed 11 December 2015
Diva the Agency website (Broken link). Accessed 11 December 2015
Arts Regional Trust website. Accessed 11 December 2015
‘Diva the Agency launches in Auckland’ WIFT New Zealand website. Loaded 6 December 2015. Accessed 11 December 2015