Rima Te Wiata won fame with her impersonations of famous New Zealanders in comedy shows Laughinz and More Issues. Her most famous parody was of newsreader Judy Bailey. Te Wiata is also a successful dramatic actor, having appeared in Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. Her film credits include Via Satellite and — after this interview was conducted — Housebound and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Mark Wright is an actor who is well known for impersonating celebrities and sports stars on television. He has appeared on a number of primetime comedy shows including Issues, That Comedy Show and Newsflash. Wright has also appeared in TV dramas Shortland Street, City Life, Nothing Trivial and Harry.
Producer/director Michael Firth first made his mark directing ski movie Off the Edge. A key early film in the NZ 'new wave', the documentary earned an Academy Award nomination in 1977. Firth went on to direct dramatic features Sylvia, Heart of the Stag and Vulcan Lane. But he loved the outdoors best: he went off the edge again in 1987 with zany adventure movie The Leading Edge, and was behind internationally successful TV series Adrenalize and fishing show Take the Bait.
Award-winning documentary maker John Bates is a Scotsman who has lived in New Zealand for over 40 years. His documentaries have covered a range of genres, from the arts — Sense of Place: Robin Morrison Photographer, Reflections - Gretchen Albrecht — to social issues — New Faces Old Fears, Crime and Punishment — to history: 1951, Banned - 100 Years of Censorship in New Zealand. In 2010, Bates directed and produced acclaimed series 50 Years of New Zealand Television.
Pio Terei is an actor, singer and comedian, who has been involved in a wide range of TV shows such as Issues, Pete and Pio, Big Night In and Tangaroa with Pio. He had a small role in the feature film No. 2 and a dramatic role in Mataku. Terei has also hosted iconic quiz show It’s in the Bag for Māori Television.
Actor Jim Moriarty cut his teeth on the early dramas Pukemanu and Close to Home, then went on to appear in a number of other TV projects such as Inside Straight and City Life. He has starred in films The Strength of Water, No Petrol No Diesel, and played Jesus in Saving Grace. As well as acting, Moriarty has directed in television and theatre, and works with at risk Māori youth.
Hanelle Harris is the creator and one of the stars of web series Baby Mama’s Club, which brings Māori and Pasifika solo mothers into the spotlight. Hanelle discusses several topics during her Funny As interview, including: Enjoying playing the villains in plays from a young age, because they always had a lot of “comedy and sarcasm” How she believed getting pregnant at 18 meant that she couldn't have a successful acting career Deciding to write for the screen, because there were no stories that she wanted to direct Creating Baby Mama’s Club to empower young mothers to “make something of their lives”, and create positive representations of Māori and Pasifika women Teaming up with the cast of Flat3 to create a rap battle — Girl Fight — to tackle the issue of racism Reflecting on the problems of past comedy, and how modern audiences can take offense to anything
Former Commonwealth Games athlete Kirk Torrance (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa) struggled with asthma and school as a child, before realising his potential as an internationally competitive swimmer. Following his exploits at home and abroad in the pool, Torrance graduated from Toi Whakaari and embarked on a successful career in film and television. His most memorable performances to date include Toa in Fish Skin Suit, Lee Kapene in Shortland Street, Holden in award-winning feature film Stickmen, and detective Wayne Judd in the hit TV series Outrageous Fortune.
Tarun Mohanbhai has performed comedy onstage, on-screen and in the theatre for over two decades.
Long-time television and radio host Mark Leishman began his TV career as a continuity announcer, and then moved on to regional news show Today Tonight. Over the years Leishman has appeared on a number of hit shows including Top Town, That’s Fairly Interesting and Tux Wonder Dogs. As well as presenting, he has also directed documentaries such as A Friend For Life and Kohi: A Guide For Life.