PI Kiwi Oscar Kightley is a writer, actor, presenter and director. After co-creating The Naked Samoans, he worked with the comedy troupe on five seasons of hit series bro’Town, NZ's first animated show to play in prime-time. Kightley has also worked with the Samoans as an actor and writer in hit feature Sione’s Wedding and its 2012 sequel. In 2013 he took on a serious role, starring as the detective in TV series Harry.
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.
Producer and Co-President of SPADA (the Screen Production and Development Association), Richard Fletcher has worked on Vincent Ward's River Queen, and helped arrange foreign finance for movies The Strength of Water and Under the Mountain. Fletcher is Managing Director of production company Libertine Pictures.
Niki Caro's near wordless Sure to Rise was nominated for best short film at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Four years later her debut feature Memory and Desire was invited to Cannes. Caro followed it with Whale Rider, winner of more than 27 awards, and still one of New Zealand's most successful films abroad. Since then Caro has directed everywhere from vineyards in France to mining towns in Minnesota.
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
Jayashree Panjabi began her television career in 1980 as a presenter on children's staple Play School, which she later returned to direct. During (and after) eight years with programme powerhouse NHNZ, Panjabi directed and produced documentaries around the world.
Yoson An began working in the New Zealand screen industry in 2012 with short film Death Note, having previously worked in theatre. He got his first starring role in a feature film the following year — in David Blyth horror film Ghost Bride, he played a Chinese immigrant forced into an arranged marriage. A lead role in Australian drama series Dead Lucky followed in 2017, this time as a rookie cop who blames his mentor for the death of his best friend. He also acts in hit webseries Flat3, and big-budget fantasy Mortal Engines. In 2018 it was announced that he would play the love interest in Niki Caro's big budget remake of Mulan. Image Credit: Photo by Andi Crown
Two of Andrew Bancroft’s early short films won awards — science fiction tale Planet Man was the first New Zealand short to win the Critic's Week section at the Cannes Film Festival. Aside from his own shorts and a run of arts documentaries for television, Bancroft has also helped develop a successful slate of short films for other directors.
Seasoned stand-up comedian Rhys Darby played an inept band manager on cult hit Flight of the Conchords. It proved a springboard to wider fame. After feature acting roles on both sides of the Atlantic, Darby took the lead role in Kiwi romantic comedy Love Birds. 2014 saw the debut of comedy show Short Poppies, with Darby playing a different person in each episode. He continues to act and perform live.
Legendary filmmaker Rudall Hayward, MBE, directed seven features over five decades — decades in which the concept of Kiwi movie-making was still an oxymoron, or meant a foreigner was in charge. Inspired by NZ’s cross-cultural history, Hayward remade his own Rewi’s Last Stand in 1940. Later he married Rewi star Ramai Te Miha, launching a filmmaking partnership that lasted until Rudall’s death in May 1974.