Veteran actor Kate Harcourt was named a Dame Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in 1996, for her contribution to theatre. Her long performing career also encompasses many roles on screen (Plain Tastes, The Dig, Apron Strings), often playing maternal figures. In her ninth decade she won Best Actress at Rhode Island International Film Festival as the plucky rest home rebel in short film Pacific Dreams.
Kirsty Cameron started in short film and art installation, before costume designing the first of around 20 feature films — including the acclaimed Whale Rider, Slow West, and No. 2. Her list of awards also includes The Orator and TV movie Jean, about aviator Jean Batten. Cameron's third short as writer/ director, teen fable The Lethal Innocents, was invited to festivals in Sweden, Germany and the USA.
One of the earliest New Zealand women to work in movies, the late Hilda Hayward collaborated with her husband Rudall on four silent feature films in the 1920s. Author Deborah Shepard argues that her coverage of the 1932 Auckland riots make her New Zealand’s first known camerawoman. Hilda Hayward passed away in 1970.
Since graduating from drama school Toi Whakaari in 1995, Sally Stockwell has acted on television (Shortland Street, Insiders Guide to Happiness), stage (The Women, The Arrival), and in four features. Stockwell also sings and teaches voice.
Aileen O’Sullivan has helmed drama and documentary for a wide range of mediums. Her first screen job was an acting role in The Governor. After directing on Gloss and The Billy T James Show, O'Sullivan set up her production company, Seannachie Productions. She is a passionate advocate for telling NZ stories; her subjects have included writers Witi Ihimaera and Ngaio Marsh, and dance troupe Black Grace.
Sarah Peirse is a multi-award winning actor on screen and stage, best known for her portrayals of two very different mothers — the kind-hearted Honorah Rieper in Heavenly Creatures, and the disaffected sophisticate in Rain. Peirse has also won awards for Vincent Ward’s The Navigator, and one of her earliest starring roles: A Woman of Good Character.
Miranda Harcourt's career has seen many notable excursions into screen work — from finding early fame on beloved soap Gloss to ambitious big screen drama For Good, which she acted in and helped produce. In 2017 she made fantasy The Changeover, with her husband Stuart McKenzie. As an acting coach, Harcourt has worked with everyone from Melanie Lynskey to Nicole Kidman.
Veteran actor Elizabeth McRae, NZOM, is probably best-known for her long-running role as Shortland Street receptionist Marjorie Brasch. Alongside her work as a theatre actor and voice coach, her screen work includes leading roles in the Return Journey episode of anthology series About Face, and Nancy Brunning short Journey to Ihipa.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Actor Ilona Rodgers made her name with a starring role as magazine editor Maxine Redfern in prime-time soap Gloss. But Rodgers' career began in her native England; her globetrotting career has seen her acting alongside Doctor Who, The Beverly Hillbillies, and the inhabitants of Marlin Bay.