Johnny Barker began acting in musicals at high school. Since then his career has balanced acting and playing music. In 2003 he starred as one of two heroes caught up in very strange doings in Greg Page horror film The Locals. Four years later Barker joined the cast of Shortland Street for his second stint, winning infamy (and Qantas award nominations) after being revealed as the Ferndale Strangler. Earlier on, his former band Jester provided the opening song for teen hit Being Eve.
After studying performing arts at Unitec, Toni Potter got busy in a run of stage plays. Guest parts on TV soon led to an ongoing role on police drama Interrogation (2005), before four years on Shortland Street. Potter played memorably straight-talking nurse Alice Piper: "a bit bogan, a bit loud-mouth." 2008 saw a Qantas nomination, after her character endured abduction by the Ferndale Strangler, and unexpected pregnancy.
Katherine McRae’s first acting role was as a child, in an adaptation of Katherine Mansfield story The Doll’s House. Thirteen years later, she was part of the main cast on TV's The Marching Girls, before her first movie, Send a Gorilla. After winning acclaim on stage, she became a regular on Shortland Street in 2006, then moved into screen directing — including Go Girls, Nothing Trivial, and short film Abandon Ship.
Short film Decaff (1994) marked a hyperactive and energetic screen debut for director Greg Page. In 2003 he wrote and directed his first feature, horror movie The Locals. Page continues to be a prolific director of television commercials and music videos.
Orewa-raised Emily Robins began acting and singing as a child. Later she juggled high school with acting on Shortland Street. Playing spoilt rich girl Claire Solomon, her character survived strip clubs and morphine, before being murdered by the Ferndale Strangler. Robins then headed for Australia to star in two seasons of The Elephant Princess, playing a musically-talented teen who learns she is princess of a magical kingdom.
Actor Hannah Marshall did four seasons on Australian TV hit Packed to the Rafters; she was nominated for a 2011 Logie Award for Most Popular New Female Talent. The ex-gymnast began acting at high school in Auckland. Later she appeared in The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, was a victim of Shortland Street's Ferndale Strangler, and showed her comic touch on Diplomatic Immunity. In 2014 she co-starred in acclaimed Aussie sci fi film The Infinite Man. After time in the United States, Marshall and partner David de Lautour returned home to create Alibi, a whodunnit whose episodes can be watched in any order.
During seven years playing Shortland Street party girl Toni Warner, Laura Hill survived miscarriage, murder attempts and romance with Chris and Guy Warner, before death from kidney failure in mid 2008. Hill, who moved to NZ aged five, is daughter of UK actor Helena Ross. At Victoria University she got first class honours in English literature; her many stage roles include starring as Jane Eyre at Dunedin's Fortune Theatre.
Christchurch-born Will Hall got his big break playing the average joe who has strange visions after an incident in a car wash, in acclaimed 2004 series Insiders Guide to Happiness. Hall went on to appear on prequel Insiders Guide to Love, then spent two years on Shortland Street, as skateboarding doctor Kip Denton. Hall also plays the baddie in Canterbury-shot movie Western Netherwood, which he helped to produce.
Ben Mitchell headed from Hamilton to Auckland in 2000 and began pursuing an acting career, soon after being crowned Mr New Zealand. Following a guest role in Shortland Street in 2000, he has become a fan favourite since returning to the show in 2006 to play Doctor TK Samuel. The character later married Doctor Sarah Potts (Amanda Billing), and became head of the hospital's Emergency Department. Aside from a number of short films, Mitchell has also starred in three feature films: cross-cultural romance Love Has No Language, comedy Curry Munchers and indie drama Broken Hallelujah.
Renato Bartolomei played heartthrob doctor Craig Valentine in Shortland Street. After studying film and psychology in Melbourne, part Kiwi, part Australian Bartolomei worked in Australian TV, then guested as on Xena: Warrior Princess. In 2001 he joined Kiwi drama Mercy Peak as romantic interest to the main character, before segueing into a four-year stay on Shortland Street. He went on to join the cast of TV thriller The Cult.