TV presenter Lana Coc-Kroft first rose to prominence by being crowned Miss Universe New Zealand in 1988. Her TV debut was as a model on Sale of the Century before becoming co-host of Wheel of Fortune. Coc-Kroft established herself as an adrenaline junkie on shows such as Mountain Dew On the Edge and Can You Hackett, and showed herself to be the equal of her male colleagues on the long-running SportsCafe. While filming reality TV show Celebrity Treasure Island, Coc-Kroft developed a life-threatening illness after being cut by coral. She recovered and went on to host Who Dares Wins.
Hori Ahipene could perhaps be described as New Zealand’s most 'diverse' actor, having played both male and female characters in TV comedies and dramas. In the 90s Ahipene gained a loyal fan base by appearing in the TV sketch shows Away Laughing, Skitz and Telly Laughs. Two of Ahipene’s popular gender-swapping roles were Mrs Semisi in Skitz and The Semisis, and Beverley Best in Māori Television sitcom/chat show B&B. Ahipene has also appeared in TV dramas Maddigan’s Quest, Mataku, and Shortland Street.
The Almighty Johnsons is a fantasy/comedy series that screened on New Zealand television over three series from 2011 to 2013. The show is about a family of brothers who are descended from Norse gods, desperately trying to restore their powers. While not a huge ratings success in New Zealand, the series has won a cult following in a number of countries.
Janice Finn is a television writer/producer who has also spent time in front of the camera. Her acting roles have included parts in Close to Home and The Strip. Finn produced the high camp 80s soap Gloss and 90s drama Marlin Bay, and has written extensively for Shortland Street. She has also produced reality series such as Changing Rooms for Touchdown Productions. Lately Finn has been producing documentaries for Natural History New Zealand.
At age 17 Dean O’Gorman starred in movie Bonjour Timothy. Around the same time he joined the cast of Shortland Street, part of a long list of screen roles that ranges from Young Hercules to The Hobbit.
After starting in radio, comedian Tim Batt found his place with podcasts, including The Worst Idea of All Time — New Zealand’s most globally successful podcast. He discusses podcasts in this Funny As interview, and also talks about: Watching a “painfully shy” Guy Williams perform his first stand-up show His first radio job, learning from legendary DJ Kevin Black The challenges of being a political comedian in a small democracy Comedians moving into the commentary space, and whether that's good for society Working with comedian Guy Montgomery on The Worst Idea of All Time How 7 Days made it respectable to be a comedian in New Zealand Being "livid" when youth channel TVNZ U was cancelled — after “honing some of the best comedians in our part of the world”
Actor turned writer/director Fiona Samuel broke from convention by putting women in the spotlight with her TV series The Marching Girls.
All female stand-up show A Girl's Gotta Eat took Auckland by storm in 1990. The show gave women a chance to laugh at themselves in a supportive environment. Actors Vicki Walker (Away Laughing, Braindead), Fiona Edgar (Brokenwood Mysteries, Vermillion) and Brenda Kendall (Double Booking) share their memories in this Funny As interview, including: Queues around the block for the monthly show — "everyone felt safe laughing their heads off. There was no boorish heckling, none of that stuff" How the involvement of The Topp Twins helped draw crowds to the venue, Ponsonby pub The Gluepot How one male performer per show was allowed — including Kevin Smith Brenda Kendall recalls how she started in stand-up at Sweetwaters music festival How Fanny Business, another female-only group, followed after A Girl's Gotta Eat
Even as a schoolboy, Oliver Driver knew he wanted to be an actor. Since leaving school he has had a varied career in theatre, television and film. Playing the role of male nurse Mike Galloway in Shortland Street made Driver a famous face in New Zealand, but he has also appeared in other homemade TV shows such as The Strip, Serial Killers, and Letter to Blanchy, and the films Topless Women Talk about Their Lives, Magik and Rose, Black Sheep, and A Death in the Family. Driver appeared as the villainous ‘Mr Wilberforce’ in the feature film Under the Mountain.
Steve La Hood began directing on soap opera Close to Home, and went on to direct tele-play Swimming Lessons, Bruno Lawrence documentary Numero Bruno and episodes of Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. He also produced ground-breaking series The Marching Girls. These days he creates multimedia attractions around the globe with company Story Inc, alongside James McLean.