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[ Jay Laga'aia ]
[ Katherine Kennard ]
[ Charles Mesure ]
[ Dwayne Cameron ]
[ Louise Wallace ]
[ Ingrid Park ]
[ Manu Bennett ]
[ Cal Wilson ]
[ Tandi Wright ]
Jay Laga'aia plays
Series Four of Street Legal is a milestone in Jay
Laga’aia’s television acting career. It brings his performances in
television drama to 250 hours, a considerable achievement in a
career full of achievement.
The role of David Silesi in Street Legal was created especially for
Laga’aia, who left his staring role as Tommy Tavita in the
Australian hit series Water Rats to return to New Zealand for Street
Legal I in 1998.
Multi-talented Laga’aia has built a successful career in Australia,
where he is also known as the host of celebrity sting show Surprise
Surprise and talent quest Starstruck. He played Captain Typho in
Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones.
Born in 1963 in South Auckland to Samoan parents, Laga’aia, the
middle child of a family of eight, grew up in South Auckland and
Ponsonby and now has dual citizenship of New Zealand and Australia.
Although he was always a performer, sport was his first love and he
originally wanted to be a rugby player. One of his first jobs was as
a council worker teaching music to streetkids and he was liaison
officer for a TVNZ documentary about the kids. He was then offered
an acting role in Heroes, a drama about young people who form a
From there, he acted in many New Zealand dramas, including Gloss,
Strangers, Open House and Marlin Bay; offshore productions filmed in
New Zealand, such as Mysterious Island, High Tide, The Further
Adventures of the Black Stallion, The Other Side of Paradise and
Soldier Soldier; plus New Zealand feature films The Navigator,
directed by Vincent Ward and Never Say Die, directed by Geoff
Murphy. His Australian work also includes Violent Earth, Tales of
the South Seas and Green Sails, a US telemovie. He was the recurring
guest lead villain, Draco, in the international hit US series Xena:
He has played starring roles in musical theatre in New Zealand and
Australia, including The New Rocky Horror Show, Jesus Christ
Superstar and Ladies Night. He composed and arranged “Let’s Party”,
the successful single release from the Water Rats album and the
soundtrack for the funeral sequence in Green Sails and played
percussion with Russell Crowe’s 30-Odd Foot of Grunts at their
Alongside his acting career, he has also worked as a presenter,
including Your Choice, Telequest, Telethon This Week and the Coke
48-Hour Music Show. He presented Cyclone Ofa, a TVNZ documentary
about the disaster in Samoa. In Australia, he was presenter of Robot
Wars and a special guest on Playschool.
He also has a background as a radio host, most notably in the early
1990s, he teamed with Temuera Morrison in a popular breakfast show
on Radio Aotearoa.
Jay and his wife Sandie have four children, Matthew, 10, Iosefa, 4,
Jessica,3 and one-year-old Nathaniel. Jay also has an older son,
Jeremy, 17, from a previous relationship.
Jay Laga’aia on Series 4
Katherine and I being the only original cast members, we look back
and we laugh with each other because every time we fluff a line or
forget something I will say to her or she will say to me: “98. We’ve
been doing this since 98. You’d think you’d get it right by now”.
I've worked this show almost the same length of time that I did with
Water Rats. Obviously Water Rats was a 10 month shoot and this is a
five month shoot but it is pleasing from an actor’s point of view to
get good chunks of work. This show has enabled me to go over the 250
hours of drama mark, which not many people in New Zealand have been
able to do, apart from long-term Shortland Street actors.
Working with Katherine is interesting because she’s become a lot
more confident as an actor. She’s been able to take the bull by the
horns and ask the questions that needed to be asked and also to take
control of her professional life. She is always prepared. She always
has a definite argument and whether or not we’re both wrong in a
scene, we have a common goal. I find it very easy to work with her,
purely because there is an underlying love that we have for each
other as well as for the characters that we portray.
I think as far as the Joni and David characters are concerned, there
is still the purest love and I think the audience understands that
and I think they still wait for it like a bus. They wait for it to
stop and they wait for these two to get on it together.
He still loves her, but he can bide his time now. David and Joni
have become friends. I suppose the sobering aspect of it is that
both of them have matured and they appreciate each other. From
David’s point of view, he knows that she is still the one he loves.
He still admires her and every day he still does things purely so
that she can see that he is changing and becoming more of a mature
person. He’s still the same crazy drop kick, but she understands him
a lot more now. I think that’s because she’s walked the walk and
she’s been burned couple of times and she understands that if you
don’t stick your neck out you’re just going to be forever like a
turtle in your shell.
From the beginning everything David did was initiated emotionally
and then he would turn around to the rest of the troops and go ‘save
me’. But now David’s been able to use his brains and go ‘alright,
how can we deal with the situation?’ because it’s a reflection on
the company which is now his and Joni’s. And nine times out of ten
it’s about making sure that his partner is mentally sound, because
it doesn’t matter what he thinks of her husband, she’s going through
trials and tribulations.
As well he is trying to find money to keep the firm afloat, which he
didn’t have to worry about before, and so it is interesting because
he now speaks with a voice of authority.
He’s still aloof and carefree, but he also definitely has one ear
and one eye on what Joni thinks and is aware that he is answerable
to another. His comment to Joni when she said ‘I need to make my
marriage work’ and he said ‘alright, you stay married, we stay
partners’ he has kept to the letter. And so he’s had to drop his
emotional side as far as him and Joni are concerned so that he can
work in the business side.
Katherine Kennard plays
Katherine Kennard left a
career as a model in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand to move to New
Zealand and become an actress.
Born in England, she moved
to Singapore as a 14-year-old, when her actress/singer mother migrated
there. She started modelling as a teenager and worked in Asia and
Australia, mostly on TV commercials.
After visiting New Zealand
about 10 years ago, she decided to move here. She attended the
Performing Arts School at Unitec and after graduation worked in
theatre before playing Lucinda Reeves in Shortland Street, then
auditioning for Street Legal.
After Street Legal I,
Kennard went to New York for further acting training at the Herbert
She played a support role
in the feature film Vector File, with Casper Van Dien and
Catherine Oxenburg, and she travelled to the Cannes Film Festival for
Other television work
includes Dark Knight, the television series produced in
Wellington for the British market.
Her most recent starring
role is in the Screenworks-produced new TV2 series Hard Out, in
which she plays a comedic role, a big contrast from Joni.
next role is as Miss Julie in the play of the same name by Strindberg,
which will play at the Maidment and in Hamilton in September/October
DSS Kees Van
NIDA (National Institute
of Dramatic Arts) graduate Charles Mesure came to New Zealand from
Australia seven years ago.
He has had roles in
CityLife, Tiger Country, Mirror Mirror, Duggan and William
Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale. He had a recurring guest role in
Xena: Warrior Princess as the Archangel Michael and was in
the US telemovie Superfire and The Water Giant, a
Canadian feature film shot in Queenstown.
He has worked in theatre
in Wellington and Christchurch in Design For Living, The
Passionate Woman, The Herbal Bed and The John Wayne Principle.
Born in Somerset,
England, he migrated to Australia at the age of five and grew up in
Sydney. He attended law school before deciding he wanted to be an
actor and enrolling at NIDA.
His work on Street
Legal has extended from acting into writing scripts as well. He
wrote one script for series 2, two for series 3 and three for series
4, as well as being involved in storylining the whole series.
He is passionate about
writing and brings meticulous research skills to each story,
particularly in this series, the story line about
performance-enhancing drugs in professional sport.
All of his time
recently has been taken up with Street Legal, writing all
winter and acting all summer. His next project is an acting role in
ScreenWorks’ next project, the feature film Skin and Bone,
based on Greg McGee’s hit stage play Foreskin’s Lament.
Cameron has recently played his first feature film lead role, as
Paul in Greg Page’s The Locals.
Cameron is well-known to
the youth audience in Europe as Bray, one of the stars of The
Tribe, the popular futuristic UK series shot in New Zealand.
He has a recurring guest
role in Mercy Peak, as disturbed 16-year-old Gus, son of Henk,
played by Ian Mune and was the lead in his first play, Acting
He grew up on farms
south of Auckland and always knew he wanted to be an actor. His
first role was as a 15-year-old in US telemovie Amazon High,
filmed in New Zealand and directed by Michael Hurst. He played the
boyfriend of Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions).
He then won a role
in William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale, produced in
Wellington by Cloud Nine, the company that later made The Tribe
and cast him in the role that was his big break.
His other work includes
the New Zealand television drama The Possum Hunter and
various television commercials. He is also a painter. He recently
had a holiday in Belize, South America.
He says his character
James has become a lot more loyal to the company, Wyeth & Associates
and the new owners, David and Joni.
“The first time you see
James in this series is when the repo men are taking the couch out
of the law office. He’s like this dog, like a terrier - really
protective. He leaps up on the couch in almost an irrational
“He’s the support
guy. He wants to be loyal to the firm and to David. He is really
deeply driven. His father is a lawyer - a real snooty tightarse -
and he didn't want any part of that. He wanted to go off in his own
direction and that meant carrying around a suitcase like Mr Bean
carries around, dressing like Mr Bean. Even though this is a
glamorous office - David wears a suit and Joni is very smart - he’s
not interested in what he looks like or what his clothes are like.
He’s more concerned about the people in the cases he works on.”
trained in London at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in
the early 1980s, also gaining her ATCL Speech & Drama at Trinity
College. She moved to Australia, where she acted in television
dramas Man of Letters, Butterfly Island and Hospital.
She then moved into
journalism and presenting, working initially as a sports
reporter/presenter for the ABC, followed by Network 10’s Just For
The Record as writer, presenter and director.
On her return to New
Zealand in 1989, she became a news and current affairs presenter for
both TV3 and TVNZ prime time shows, including Inside New Zealand,
Destination Planet Earth, Ansett Time of Your Life, TV3 Sports, 60
Minutes and 20/20. She was also anchor for TV3 News.
She has presented
Whose House is it Anyway? Kiwi Flatmates, America’s Cup Women
Yachties and The Weakest Link. She is currently
researching, writing and presenting Health Matters, a weekly
health show for National Radio.
She has also acted in
Atomic Twister and Power Rangers Ninja Storm, US
television shows filmed in New Zealand.
Wallace is still
enjoying her role as Adie in Street Legal and says that in
series four Adie experiences the other side of the law from her
usual perspective as a judge.
“After her husband Peter
was killed, she needed the work and the money and she stayed in her
job as a judge.
“She develops a drinking
problem and is in denial, thinking that she has everything totally
in control. But she has an accident in her car and goes through
complete angst, thinking she has done grievous bodily harm to
someone through dangerous driving.
“She has to face a lot
of ethical and moral dilemmas and the flaws in her character come
out for all to see.
“ The tables are turned
completely when she thinks she can use the power of her position and
bend the law to her advantage, but then someone more powerful
manipulates her in a similar way and she realises how destructive it
There’s also a new
love interest for Adie in this new series.
Ingrid Park plays
Ingrid Park qualified as an engineer before deciding to train as an
actress. She has a BTech in engineering from Massey University as
well as a diploma from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic
Arts in Christchurch.
grew up in Palmerston North and spent several years in Christchurch,
as a drama student and performing in theatre as well as working as a
director and acting tutor at the Christchurch Drama Centre.
played the evil Dr McKenzie Choate in Shortland Street. Other
television roles include US productions Jack of All Trades,
Superfire and Hearts of Men, two New Zealand pilots,
Emerald and the Fairy Folk and What’s Up Felix; and a
short film, Sunday Lunch.
productions include Trainspotting, in Auckland and
Wellington, Cabaret and Hair for the Auckland Theatre
Company and a national tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
has recently taken up playing the violin again after not touching it
since high school.
Manu Bennett plays
Bennett returned to New Zealand after establishing himself as an
actor in Australia in television drama such as Headstart for
the ABC, the critically acclaimed feature film Lantana and a
Japanese feature, Tomoko.
in Rotorua of Arawa and Kahungunu Maori heritage, he moved to
Australia as a baby and grew up in Newcastle. He enrolled in an
acting and dance course at Sydney’s University of New South Wales.
He later studied acting at the Lee Strasberg School in Los Angeles.
first role was as a core cast member of Paradise Beach. He
has worked with Jay Laga’aia in Australia in Violent Earth,
Tales of the South Seas and was a guest on Water Rats.
Other television roles include All Saints, Blue Heelers,
US series Beastmaster and US Fox movie of the week
New Zealand he played Mark Antony in Xena: Warrior Princess,
was Jack Hewitt on Shortland Street and was in Mataku.
the beginning of series four of Street Legal, his character Matt
Urlich’s past as an undercover cop catches up with him and he is in
put Charlie Clark and his daughter in prison and when Charlie gets
out, Matt knows he’s after him. He wants to convince them that he
was just doing his job and he didn’t mean to betray them personally.
But that’s a very hard thing to explain to people who have spent 10
years in prison.
“There’s huge competition between Matt and Kees, especially when
Matt goes over Kees’ head to offer a solution to the case and it
works and Matt comes out the hero.
“I think Matt found
that at the legal firm he spent all his time doing cop work anyway,
so I think he realised what his position really is and that is to be
Cal Wilson plays
Cal Wilson is best-known
as a comedian and is now achieving recognition as a writer – she is
a member of the Willy Nilly writing team, which won the
comedy script award at the New Zealand Television Awards.
She is currently in
Australia, performing her new one-woman show, “Bride and Prejudice”,
at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and touring Queensland and Alice
Springs in the Festival Roadshow. She also has a Pulp Comedy
special, “Cal Wilson and Friends” due to screen on TV2.
She was a regular on the
New Zealand version of The Panel on TV3 and has been a guest
on the original Australian series several times.
Wilson grew up in
Christchurch and started as an actor, achieving Grade 8 (Hons)
Speech and Drama from London’s Trinity College of Music. She forged
a career in stand-up comedy, one of the few New Zealand women in the
She was in the winning
team at the World Theatresports Championship in Los Angeles in 1994,
won the Billy T James Award and was voted Best Newcomer at the
Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2001. Also in 2001, she was selected
for the Best of the Festival Showcase at the Montreal Comedy
Her acting roles include
feature film Channelling Baby, US telemovie Zenon, New
Zealand series Duggan, sketch comedy show Skitz and
short film Permanent Wave. She was also presenter of a youth
culture series, The Drum.
She has performed on
Pulp Comedy and A Bit More After 10, and has
presented one-woman comedy shows in the New Zealand Laugh
Festival. Her theatre performances include Cheap Laughs,
Scared Scriptless and Jack and the Beanstalk 2.
Wilson says this series
of Street Legal sees a big change for Yalena.
“She goes outside the
office and you get to see her legs and everything. She’s not just
behind the desk. It has been quite funny because we had a scene in
the office where I just couldn’t hit my mark. So Jay ended up
picking me up and placing me on the mark every time we did the scene
because I’m just so used to sitting down and not having to move.
Obviously my technical skills still need a bit of work. But it’s
been great. It’s been lots of fun.”
Tandi Wright plays Ange
Wright is currently on screen in three very different television
series – Street Legal, Willy Nilly and Being Eve – in
vastly different roles, reflecting her versatility.
filming of Street Legal overlapped with Willy Nilly,
but in order to secure her for their series, the Street Legal
producers scheduled all of her scenes into the one day of the week
Wright was available, Sunday. So she worked weekdays in Wellington
on Willy Nilly, and Sundays in Auckland on Street Legal
for several months. She says it was hard work but worth it.
Well-known for her role as Shortland Street’s
nurse Caroline Buxton, Wright has also had guest roles in Xena
Warrior Princess, Atlantis High and Crash Palace. Her
feature films are Bread & Roses and the upcoming
This is not a Love Story.
won two Chapman Trip Theatre Awards in 2000 – best supporting
actress for Rutherford and most promising female newcomer for
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
passion for Shakespeare has led her into the selection panel and
some tutoring for the New Zealand Shakespeare Globe Centre,
selecting and preparing secondary students to visit the Globe
Theatre in London.
Wright says Ange in Street Legal is a lovely character to
“She’s a little toughie. I think of her as a little terrier. When
she latches onto something she’s very tenacious and quite
hard-nosed. I suspect she’s quite conservative in her politics, but
she’s had to make her way through a largely man’s world in the
police force, so I think she’s endured some knocks on the way and
she’s got tough edges.
enjoying her enormously, because she’s an action woman and I’ve
never really done action before".