Actor and director Michael Hurst is a Kiwi creative institution. Even leaving aside his work as a director and stage actor, Hurst's screen resume runs to 50 roles and counting: including playing everyone from painter Toulouse-Lautrec, to Hercules's sidekick Iolaus, to politician Rodney Hide.
Kevin Smith was the multi-talented actor who appeared in a host of television shows, starting with eighties soap Gloss. He also starred in three tele-movies as maverick private investigator John Lawless. His feature films include period melodrama Desperate Remedies, and offbeat drama Channelling Baby.
Actor, writer and director Rawiri Paratene, ONZM, first sprang into the public eye on the iconic Play School and comedy shows like Joe and Koro. In 1999 he played gangmember Mulla Rota in the sequel to Once Were Warriors, and four years later was seen around the globe as the stubborn grandfather in Whale Rider. In 2010 he won further acclaim after starring in movie The Insatiable Moon.
Peter Rowley has performed alongside many Kiwi comedy legends, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby and Billy T James. After debuting on hit 1970s sketch show A Week of It, he joined the ensembles of McPhail and Gadsby and (in 1985) The Billy T James Show. In 1994 Rowley won equal billing alongside comedian Pio Terei on Pete and Pio, before going on to co-star in McPhail and Gadsby's Letter to Blanchy.
Playwright and novelist Stephen Sinclair was part of the writing team behind Peter Jackson's bad taste duo Meet the Feebles and Braindead. Zombie tale Braindead, which began as a Sinclair idea, won a Best Script Award at the 1993 NZ Film and TV Awards. Later Sinclair wrote for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, created TV mockumentary Love Mussel, and in 2004 directed his first short film, Ride. His feature directing debut — the offbeat Russian Snark — was nominated for six Qantas film awards, including Best Director. Sinclair's work as a playwright includes co-writing global hit Ladies Night, with Anthony McCarten.
After producing her first short film for Niki Caro, Rachel Jean worked alongside veteran producer Owen Hughes on a host of documentaries, plus the occasional drama. Later Jean went solo, producing TV series Secret Agent Men, and The Market. After time as TV3’s Head of Drama and Comedy, she became Head of Development at South Pacific Pictures.
On stage, actor George Henare has played everyone from Lenin and King Lear, to Snoopy and Dracula. On screen, his extensive resume spans 70s TV landmark The Governor, 90s classic Once Were Warriors, and an award-winning role on 2010's Kaitangata Twitch.
Vanessa Rare's first time in front of a camera was in a starring role: playing scheming solo mother Rata, in Gaylene Preston comedy hit Ruby and Rata (1990). NZ Herald reviewer Peter Calder wrote that Rare filled "the screen with a presence one would expect of a veteran performer". Daughter of a runner and a champion ballet dancer, she went on to act in Barry Barclay's Te Rua, 2014 movie The Z-Nail Gang and with an extended role on Shortland Street, as poor but proud nurse Te Hana Hudson. Rare has also written and directed for anthology series Mataku, and directed short films Koa Means Joy and Pikowae.
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.
Producer Fiona Copland is noted for quirky and ambitious films, many of them made with first-time directors. 2009's The Strength of Water won praise at festivals in Rotterdam and Berlin, while multi-stranded narrative feature Matariki arrived in New Zealand theatres in 2010 via the Toronto Film Festival. These days she is part of company Field Theory, with producers Philippa Campbell and Tim Sanders.