In the late 1970s actor and singer Marcus Craig ( aka Diamond Lil) popularised the glittering world of drag for mainstream New Zealand. His hit cabaret act featured talents like Billy T James and Tina Cross; his duet with Fred Dagg made the pop charts. His television credits include satirical series Something to Look Forward to, various guest slots and the role of co-host on variety show Top of the World.
Although better known as a songwriter and champion of New Zealand music, Arthur Baysting has also made a number of contributions to the screen. In the 1970s he was a scriptwriter on breakthrough dramas Winners & Losers and Sleeping Dogs, while his white-clad alter ego Neville Purvis graced cabaret stages and a short-lived TV series. Since then he has concentrated on writing songs and screenplays.
Kiwi acting legend Jennifer Ward-Lealand began acting at age seven; her first screen role followed at age nine. Since then she has starred in big screen dramas Desperate Remedies and Vermilion to critical acclaim, and appeared in a long run of television shows, from TV drama Danny and Raewyn to Australian comedy show Full Frontal.
Lew Pryme was a popular New Zealand performer, who appeared in big screen musical Don't Let it Get You and on sixties television show C'mon. After stints as a music promoter and agent, Pryme played a part in bringing the entertainment and sports worlds together as executive director of the Auckland Rugby Union - introducing cheerleaders, mascots and music entertainment to rugby fans.
Sophia Hawthorne, who died in February 2016, starred on stage in Cabaret, Closer and Romeo and Juliet. After a number of short films — including the moody She’s Racing — she got breakthrough screen roles in movies When Love Comes and Savage Honeymoon (playing wild child Leesa Savage). Further nominations followed for TV’s Insiders Guide to Happiness. She was daughter of actor Elizabeth and director Raymond Hawthorne.
Actor/singer Geoffrey Dolan has appeared on stage, screen and in ads. His roles include starring in Māori Television sitcom Kai Kōrero, the cuckolded pilot in TV's Mercy Peak, and Sergeant O'Neill in In My Father's Den. Dolan often acted alongside his friend Kevin Smith, including in 80s soap Gloss, comedy Double Booking, and all three Lawless tele-movies. Dolan has done voice-overs for the Power Rangers franchise, and is a prolific performer of corporate and cabaret work.
Stage and screen veteran Rima Te Wiata has showcased her talents as an actor (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), impersonator (More Issues), and singer (Little Shop of Horrors) — often all at the same time. In 2017 Te Wiata was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit, for her work on film and television.
Lani Tupu, sometimes credited as Larney Tupu or Lani John Tupu, is the first Samoan to have starred in a Kiwi television series; in 1985 he segued from theatre onto the screen, to play doctor David Miller on period TV drama Country GP. The New Zealand-raised Samoan then relocated to Australia, where his many screen roles include Lantana, sci fi success Farscape, and a TV reboot of Mission Impossible.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.
Veteran producer Tom Parkinson has worked with some of New Zealand television's most popular comedians, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby, and the late Billy T James (who he discovered in an Avondale Rugby League club). He also directed adventure series Hunter's Gold — whose international success helped launch a run of Kiwi-made children's dramas — and produced many international co-productions.