Born to Chinese and Singaporian parents, Li-Ming Hu found fame on Shortland Street, playing “mean and cantankerous” medical student turned doctor Li Mei Chen. Over three years on the soap, she also wrote some episodes. Her CV includes two seasons of political satire Spin Doctors, and award-winning short film Take 3 (playing a typecast Asian actor). She has presented music shows and competed on Treasure Island. Off-screen, she was in band The Tockey Tones, and has a Masters in History. Having relocated to the United States to continue studies in Fine Arts, Hu is also a visual and performance artist.
I have a lot of fun playing Li Mei. She's quite rude which is fun because in real life you never have the opportunity to behave like that — it's really liberating and very funny. But Li Mei also has a softer, more complicated side. Li-Ming Hu on her role in Shortland Street, The Dominion Post, 18 March 2003, page 15
After success with short films (This is Her, Redemption) director Katie Wolfe made the transition to longer length story-telling with this 2010 drama. With This is Her writer Kate McDermott she adapted the Witi Ihimaera novel about a 40-something man confronting his double life, and the impact that his coming out as gay has on his wife, kids, and whānau. A key change was turning the book’s Pākehā protagonist to a successful Māori businessman (Calvin Tuteao). It screened on TV One on 23 January 2010 and at festivals internationally (where it was entitled Kawa).
Ingeniously unfolding three tales in unison, Take 3 follows a trio of young asian-Kiwi actors on one horrifying day of auditions. Director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets) mines comedy from the competitive, cookie-cutter world of casting, while questioning the way minority actors are asked to perpetuate old-fashioned stereotypes. The stars are My Wedding lead Michelle Ang, Katlyn Wong (comedy A Thousand Apologies), and Li Ming Hu (Shortland Street doctor Li Mei Chen). Take 3 won special mention in the Generation 14plus section at Berlin film fest.
Set in a high flying PR firm, Spin Doctors was a topical, fast turnaround satire — in the tradition of John Clarke’s The Games. No client is too grasping, no issue too unsavoury for Giles Peterson and Associates, and a team including a ruthless Australian (Mark Ferguson), a boozy trout (Elizabeth Hawthorne) and the office liberal unsuccessfully battling his conscience (John Leigh). Each episode was written and produced in just five days — allowing the writers (including James Griffin, Roger Hall and Tom Scott) full license with the week’s issues.
Treasure Island was an early local example of a reality show staple — contestants endured the great outdoors, and each other. Over nine seasons the series went through multiple variations, including a Couples at War season, and another featuring favourites from the past. During the 2004 season of Celebrity Treasure Island, contestant Lana Coc-Kroft was airlifted from Fiji, after she cut her foot on coral and got a life-threatening blood-poisoning disease. On 2002's Treasure Island: Extreme, Barrie Rice — an ex SAS soldier — dealt with being eliminated by hiding in the jungle.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.