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.
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.
Don Reynolds is a sound operator turned film producer who has had a big impact on the New Zealand film industry. He was a sound recorder/mixer on many of our classic films of the 1980s and went on to produce movies such as The Quiet Earth, Sylvia, Mr Wrong, and River Queen. Reynolds was also one of the main forces behind the setting up of long-running TV soap Shortland Street.
Aileen O’Sullivan has a significant screen pedigree, from acting to directing, producing and – most importantly – storytelling. Her work ranges from Gloss and The Billy T James Show to Holiday and The Great New Zealand Showdown specials. Under her production company Seannachie Productions, O'Sullivan's has helmed a number of well received documentaries including Witi Ihimaera, Black Grace – From Cannon’s Creek to Jacob’s Pillow, Life’s a Riot and Ngaio Marsh – Crime Queen.
Bruce Morrison's career as a producer, director and writer has brought some memorable New Zealand stories to the screen. He has been involved in a number of arts shows such as Kaleidoscope and Profiles, as well as poetry documentaries The Roaring 40's Tour and The Road to Jerusalem. Morrison directed the feature films Constance, Shaker Run and Queen City Rocker, and was a long-time director on Gary McCormick's iconic Heartland documentary series.
In over 30 years as a producer and director with TVNZ, Derek Wooster made a huge contribution to both mainstream and Māori broadcasting. Among his many projects, Wooster created and produced Marae – the country’s longest running Māori current affairs programme. Other notable achievements include producing the tangihanga of Dame Whina Cooper and the Māori Queen.
Carol Hirschfeld attributes some of her career path to her father, “a big newspaper man”. As a sub-editor at Eyewitness News in the late 80s, Hirschfeld was convinced she preferred to work behind the camera, with no interest at all in appearing in front of it. Since then, Hirschfeld has reported for and hosted many primetime television productions including Fair Go, Crimewatch, 3 News and Campbell Live, as well as producing and directing hours of New Zealand television such as Frontline’s Winebox enquiry, Home Truths, A Queen’s Tour and Campbell Live. More recently Hirschfeld has worked in management at Maori Television and Radio New Zealand.
Award-winning actor Sarah Peirse is best known for her portrayals of two very different mothers — the ill-fated Honorah Rieper in Heavenly Creatures, and the disaffected sophisticate in Rain. Peirse’s first film was the 80s short Queen Street, followed by tele-feature A Woman of Good Character (aka It's Lizzie to those Close). More recently, she has appeared in tele-movies Bliss: The Beginning of Katherine Mansfield and Aftershock.
Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh is the eye behind some of the most iconic images in New Zealand film. His first job in the industry was as a 'general assistant' on Middle Age Spread. From there he worked as a gaffer on films including Smash Palace, Goodbye Pork Pie and Came A Hot Friday, before becoming a fully-fledged cinematographer, learning much of what he knows from his mentor Alun Bollinger, who operated the camera for him on The Piano. Since shooting The Piano, Dryburgh has been working overseas, returning to film In My Father’s Den in 2004.
From playing a human mule in The Piano, a dandy in Desperate Remedies and the hated Uncle Bully in Once Were Warriors, actor Cliff Curtis has appeared in a number of classic Kiwi movies. Curtis won acclaim and awards after starring as troubled chess champ Genesis Potini in The Dark Horse. He has also forged a busy international acting career, and moved into work as a producer, out of a desire to make Māori stories.