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.
PI Kiwi Oscar Kightley is a writer, actor, presenter and director. After co-creating The Naked Samoans, he worked with the comedy troupe on five seasons of hit series bro’Town, NZ's first animated show to play in prime-time. Kightley has also worked with the Samoans as an actor and writer in hit feature Sione’s Wedding and its 2012 sequel. In 2013 he took on a serious role, starring as the detective in TV series Harry.
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.
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).
Auckland-born Aaron Jeffery moved to Australia at 17, to study acting at Sydney's National Institute of Dramatic Art. After time on Water Rats, he won fame and two Logie Awards for McLeods' Daughters. In-between doing over 200 episodes as larrikin horseman Alex Ryan, he returned to Aotearoa for Outrageous Fortune, to play Wolf West's dodgy half-brother. In 2012 he won an AACTA Award after adding 15 kilograms for Underbelly: Badness. Later he starred as celebrity criminal Mark 'Chopper' Read in a 2018 Underbelly instalment. Jeffery has also acted in Step Dave (as Dave's dad) and Prisoner update Wentworth.
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.