Suzanne Paul made a splash on our TV screens as the Queen of Infomercials in the 1980s. She soon had her own TV show called Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, followed by a range of other popular primetime programmes. Despite breaking a rib in the final episode, Paul won the third season of Dancing with the Stars.
Michele Fantl has produced a number of acclaimed telemovies, features and documentaries. Along the way, she has worked extensively with writer/directors Peter Wells, Stewart Main, Garth Maxwell and Fiona Samuel. Her screen credits include movies When Love Comes and 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous, and award-winning Katherine Mansfield tele-feature Bliss.
Nancy Brunning's television debut was in the first episode of Shortland Street, as Nurse Jaki Manu. Brunning — who passed away in November 2019 — gave a memorable performance as gang girl Tania in What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, and later won attention for her acting in movies The Strength of Water and Mahana. Her work for television included Mataku, Kōrero Mai, and award-winning TV movie Fish Skin Suit. Alongside a busy theatre career, she also directed 2008 short film Journey to Ihipa.
Simon Prast made his television debut in cop drama Mortimer’s Patch. Best known for playing spoilt rich kid Alistair Redfern in Gloss, Prast’s biggest film role was playing a gay man in 1998 movie When Love Comes. He also has a strong background in theatre, and for 11 years ran the Auckland Theatre Company.
Stacey Daniels Morrison began her TV career on What Now?, presenting a weekly cooking segment while still at high school. After missing out on a role at Ice TV to Petra Bagust, she joined current affairs series Marae, which helped her discover her Māori heritage. She then moved to fledgling music show Mai Time, where she found herself at the forefront of a change in the way Māori culture was portrayed on screen. Morrison has moved between presenting and working behind-the-scenes, on everything from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner to SportsCafe. She is also a radio broadcaster.
Peter Wells was an accomplished writer/director who explored gay and historical themes in his work. Among his screen credits are groundbreaking TV dramas Jewel’s Darl and A Death in the Family. Wells also created stylish feature film Desperate Remedies with co-director Stewart Main. In later years he collaborated with filmmaker Annie Goldson for documentary Georgie Girl.
Actor, writer, and director Madeleine Sami has been honing her skills in theatre, television and film since she was a teen. She talks in this Funny As interview about Kiwi humour, performing, and other subjects, including: Coming from a large, close extended family, where "everyone's got a good singing voice and everyone's a comedian" Travelling around the world to perform in Toa Fraser plays Bare and No. 2, soon after leaving high school Learning to write on drama/comedy TV series Super City, and playing all five lead characters in the first season Worries over whether Americans would get the humour in her and Jackie van Beek's film The Breaker Upperers Feeling excited that New Zealand comedy is respected overseas — "It feels really nice, it feels like we can be ourselves and laugh at ourselves and the rest of the world get it" Wanting to try stand-up comedy next
Chris Parker grew up seeing long-running improv show Scared Scriptless at Christchurch's Court Theatre. A move to Auckland and comedy troupe Snort — which fellow Snorter Thomas Sainsbury joins him here to discuss — saw him playing David Halls onstage, and becoming a head writer on Jono and Ben. Among other things, Parker discusses: Seeing himself as an actor more than a comedian Getting the role of David Halls in the Hudson and Halls stage play without an audition, and learning about Halls and Peter Hudson's lives as gay men in the public eye, "who couldn't openly be out" The apparent contradiction of being a head writer of mainstream show Jono and Ben, despite his 2015 Comedy Festival show being “a weep fest about coming out to your parents ... like 45 minutes of dancing and no jokes” Winning the prestigious Fred Award for the best show written and performed by a New Zealand comedian, for his 2018 show Camp Binch, which he notes also contained no jokes Watching and learning from fellow actors Jo Randerson and Rima Te Wiata He’s joined by fellow comedian Thomas Sainsbury to discuss Auckland improv group Snort
Matt Heath was one of the key creative minds behind anarchic stunt comedy late night show Back Of The Y, before becoming a NZ Herald columnist, Radio Hauraki DJ, and comical cricket commentator. This interview includes: Heath's early love of The Young Ones and Badjelly the Witch — and later unconsciously plagiarising American movies on Back Of The Y Making stunt-laden short films Vaseline Warriors and Shafted with fellow Back of the Y creator Chris Stapp, while at university in Dunedin The long route to getting Back of the Y made — and how Bill Ralston almost cancelled the show before it debuted The many injuries that occured during filming, and worries that Stapp, who performed most of the stunts, had died several times Breaking guitars and ribs while on tour with musician Tim Finn Jeremy Wells coming up with the idea for the Alternative Commentary Collective, and the challenges of getting sports comedy funded in New Zealand
Nathaniel Lees is an NZ-born Samoan actor who has acted on both stage and screen. Lees began his screen career with small roles in Death Warmed Up and Other Halves, before joining Billy T James on his sketch comedy shows. Lees went on to appear in a number of TV dramas including Shark in the Park , City Life, Gloss, Shortland Street and Street Legal. His many film roles include Sione’s Wedding, The Lord of the Rings, Rapa Nui and The Matrix trilogy.