Making jokes and cross-dressing as one half of comedy duo The Laughing Samoans has taken actor Tofiga Fepulea'i around the globe. The Kiwi-Samoan spent 13 years performing with Eteuati Ete; alongside a long run of concert DVDs, they starred in 2010 TV series The Laughing Samoans at Large. Since the duo disbanded in 2016, Fepulea'i has performed solo, and paired with TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora for Māori Television comedy series Hamu & Tofiga (2017). In 2019 Fepulea'i landed his first movie role, as a private investigator in Take Home Pay. The comedy follows two Samoan brothers on a trip to Aotearoa.
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.
Richard O’Brien made his mark in the history of musicals — and cult movies — after creating the tale of a sweet transvestite from Transylvania. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has played on cinema screens for decades. The stage show continues to win new fans. O’Brien has gone on to a wide range of projects, including movie Dark City and hosting New Zealand’s DNA Detectives and UK hit The Crystal Maze.
Although best known as a writer, Maurice Shadbolt also did time as a filmmaker. In his 20s he made a number of films at the National Film Unit, as part of a career that encompassed fiction, journalism, theatre and two volumes of autobiography. His classic Gallipoli play Once on Chunuk Bair was made into a feature film in 1992.
Jono Smith was 14 when he won the starring role as teenager Ned Poindexter in 50s-era coming of age classic The Scarecrow. After leaving school, Smith joined TVNZ and became a camera assistant. Since relocating to England in 1993 he has shot a raft of television projects, short films, and four features. In 2010 he co-produced acclaimed movie Sus.
Fed up with seeing animals unintentionally mishandled on set, former farm girl Caroline Girdlestone decided to do something about it. Now one of the most respected animal trainers in Australasia, she’s worked with almost any animal imaginable across more than 500 projects – ranging from the cute barnyard animals of Racing Stripes to the horrifying ovine creatures in Black Sheep.
After stints in the merchant navy and the British film industry, Steve Locker-Lampson began a new life in New Zealand in the 60s, heading the camera department at indie production house Pacific Films. The following decade he forged a reputation as one of the country's pioneer aerial cameramen, and worked behind the scenes on movies Solo and Smash Palace. Locker-Lampson passed away in October 2012.
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.
Simon Price grew up in Dunedin. Named most innovative graduate at Melbourne's VCA Film School, he worked in Australia for many years as a writer/director, editor and video artist before returning home to help edit King Kong. Price's feature editing credits have since included Blackspot, landmark Samoan drama The Orator, Cambodian-set fable Ruin, Pā Boys, and docos Last Men Standing and Antarctica: A Year On Ice.
Longtime Cantabrian Simon Barnett has had many encounters with the small screen. In the late 80s he spent four years as a presenter on What Now?, before going on to host a number of talent and game shows. The longtime radio DJ has also competed in Celebrity Treasure Island. In 1990 he acted in hit comedy Ruby and Rata, as the young man who gets caught up with a dodgy but lovable solo mother.