Auckland-born Jay Laga’aia is the proverbial man of many talents. A busy trans-Tasman career as actor/performer has seen him performing on stage (The Lion King) and screen (Street Legal, Water Rats, Star Wars).
Beginning as an actor, writer and director in local theatre during the 70s, John Banas increasingly focused on dramatic writing for television from the 80s on. After relocating to Australia, he established himself as a prolific TV screenwriter with a string of iconic shows, including Blue Heelers and City Homicide. His New Zealand scripts include award-winning telemovies Siege and How to Murder Your Wife.
Since scrapping a career as a teacher in 1978, actor Desmond Kelly has appeared on screen in more than 40 roles. Often playing the straight-talking working class Kiwi bloke, Kelly has contributed memorable performances to Smash Palace (as Bruno's co-mechanic), The Scarecrow (as the hero's Dad), Springbok Tour telefeature Rage (as rugby union boss Ces Blazey) and as the swagman co-star in TV series Jocko.
Geoff Jamieson was working as a mechanic in Queenstown when he was asked to help out on landmark 70s television series Hunters's Gold. So began a busy career as a camera grip on a run of classic TV dramas, as well as the ambitious shoots for movies The Quiet Earth and The Piano. Jamieson passed away on 24 May 2016.
Elizabeth Mitchell made her name as creator and producer of animated hit bro'Town, which screened for five seasons and won multiple awards. Since then she has produced short films and directed documentaries, and is currently developing a feature based on Oscar Kightley's award-winning short Tom's Dairy.
Manu Bennett’s acting career has seen him battling Roman gladiators, teaching salsa on acclaimed movie Lantana, and creeping out both superheroes and the staff of Shortland Street.
Richard Whiteside began acting in 2004, after time as a businessman. Soon he was appearing in the first of a run of shorts (including starring in 2008's The Rat Trap). In 2014 he played head of a group of anti-media activists in Jonathan King feature REALITi; he also acted in a memorable advert in which he escapes into the air on an ejector seat, after driving lessons with his teenage son. Whiteside passed away on 11 August 2015.
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.
Alongside award-winning front and centre roles in everything from horror movie The Ugly to Shortland Street, lawyer-turned-actor Rebecca Hobbs has tried her hand at directing (short film Tick), writing (children's series P.E.T. Detectives) — and even the cha cha (TV’s Dancing with the Stars).
Marshall Napier’s run of memorable supporting film roles includes Came a Hot Friday, The Navigator, and Footrot Flats. He starred in The Lie of the Land and TV drama Swimming Lessons. A 1988 move to Australia saw turns in hit movie Babe and TV series Police Rescue (AFI-nominated), Water Rats and McLeod’s Daughters. Napier took his own play, Freak Winds, to off-Broadway New York in 2006 after a sell-out run in Australia.