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Find out More About Your Favourite Actors

Simply click on the actors name below

Jay Laga'aia ] Katherine Kennard ] Charles Mesure ] Dwayne Cameron ] Louise Wallace ] Ingrid Park ] Manu Bennett ] Cal Wilson ] Tandi Wright ]



Jay Laga'aia plays David Silesi

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 band.

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: Warrior Princess.

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 Sydney concert.

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 Joni Collins

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 Bergoff Studios.

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 its release.

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.

Her 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 2003


Charles Mesure plays DSS Kees Van Dam

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.




Dwayne Cameron plays James Peabody

21-year-old Dwayne 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 Jesus.

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 protective way.

“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.”  


Louise Wallace plays Adie Saunders

Louise Wallace 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 is.”

There’s also a new love interest for Adie in this new series.



Ingrid Park plays Maddy McGuire

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.

She 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.

She 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.

Theatre 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.

She has recently taken up playing the violin again after not touching it since high school.




Manu Bennett plays Matt Urlich

Manu 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.

Born 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.

His 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 Chameleon.

 In New Zealand he played Mark Antony in Xena: Warrior Princess, was Jack Hewitt on Shortland Street and was in Mataku.

In 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 danger.

“He’s 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 enforcing law.”


Cal Wilson plays Yalena

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 field.

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 Festival.

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

Tandi 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.

The 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.

She won two Chapman Trip Theatre Awards in 2000 – best supporting actress for Rutherford and most promising female newcomer for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Her 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 play.

“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.

“I’m enjoying her enormously, because she’s an action woman and I’ve never really done action before".