Stelios Yiakmis got his screen break as heartthrob doctor Johnny Marinovich on Shortland Street, a role he played for five years. The part Greek, part Kiwi actor has gone on to act on both sides of the Tasman, including hit show McLeod's Daughters, acclaimed 2006 movie Jindabyne, and Kiwi crime drama The Blue Rose.
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.
Within two years of acting in kidult TV adventure Sea Urchins, Kiwi Rebecca Gibney had set up shop in Australia. There she would find fame — and a long list of awards and nominations — thanks to a television CV which includes Wanted (which she also created), Packed to the Rafters, The Flying Doctors, mini-series Come in Spinner, and 21 Halifax tele-movies as forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax.
Rena Owen made her name playing courageous battered wife Beth Heke, in landmark film Once Were Warriors. The film won her a run of awards, and international acclaim from Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Sydney Morning Herald and Vogue. Owen has gone before the cameras in Australia, Fiji, Hungary and the United States.
Brother of pioneering aviator Jean Batten, Rotorua-born John Batten began acting in films while living in the United States. By the 1930s he was winning starring roles in England, including The Great Game and submarine drama Men Like This. Later he appeared in his only known New Zealand film, Rudall Hayward short Song of the Wanganui. Batten passed away in England in 1993.
Actor Willa O'Neill won awards for her work in two 90s movie hits: Dunedin student thriller Scarfies, and ensemble piece Topless Women Talk about their Lives.
Eight years after her TV debut on sketch show Funny Business, Lucy Lawless won global fame as the star of Xena: Warrior Princess. The series won her a devoted fan following, and invitations to guest star on everything from The Simpsons to bro' Town. Since the end of Xena's six season run, Lawless has acted in New Zealand and the United States, including as bad girl Lucretia in locally-shot series Spartacus.
In a career spanning four decades, Alan Morris worked in radio and television in NZ, Australia, England and Europe. He turned his hand to announcing, copywriting, presenting and training, but at heart felt he was a producer and director. Morris was Director-General of TV One during the early days of two channel TV in NZ in the late 70s, and also held senior positions at the ABC and Associated-Rediffusion in the UK.
Though you'd never know it from her Kiwi accent, Sia Trokenheim began acting in her native Sweden while she was still a child. In 2001 she relocated to New Zealand. Four years later she got her Kiwi screen break, playing the title role in low-budget thriller Luella Miller. In 2014 she won a Moa award for fractured family drama Everything We Loved; she also began starring in the first of two seasons of Step Dave, as a 30-something mother who dates a 24-year-old barman, despite the disapproval of her daughters. In 2017 she co-starred in Indian-NZ missing person drama Beyond the Known World, and family movie Kiwi Christmas.
Julian Arahanga shot into the public eye in 1994's Once Were Warriors, playing the son who becomes a gang-member. He followed it with a starring role in cross-cultural romance Broken English. Since then Arahanga has continued a prolific career working in front of, and increasingly behind the camera - including as producer and director on Māori Television series Songs from the Inside.