Producer, Writer, Musician and Publicity Strategist

Currently freelancing with Notable Pictures and Letterboxd, with occasional gigs for RNZ.

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Who or what did you want to be when you grew up?

A famous Hollywood actress, specifically with a recurring role on The Love Boat, or McPhail and Gadsby (either one would have done), or a high school teacher. Spot the classic childhood influences: school and television.

What is your professional background?

What haven't I done? Started with a paper round as a youngster, worked in accounts receivable at Placemakers during high school, then did the obligatory hospo spell, waiting tables and listening to speeches in my parents' wedding reception business to get through university. Since then it has been a fairly typical Gen X multi-slash hustle of fascinating contracts in media and the performing arts - apart from a three-year spell working for Helen Clark's Fifth Labour Government, which is when I paid off my student loan. If you're asking for my pitch, I'm a producer and writer with deep strategy and audience experience, and a commitment to projects that delight, bring joy and deepen human understanding.

When do you feel the most creative or inspired?

Mostly when I am being inspired by other creative people. Standing in the middle of a crowd at a sublime live show gets all the senses firing. Being with a group of brilliant people bouncing ideas around in a non-judgemental "we're all dicks, it's okay!" setting. On a personal level, when I am riding my bicycle, pulling laps in the pool, or otherwise stealing five minutes alone.

When are you happiest?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, since the pursuit of happiness is so complicated by the day to day of being a human in a capitalist society, as well as growing older and learning to live without loved ones. Add to that the fact that I have been homesick for almost a decade as I travel between two homes, and the bipolar nature of being in the performing arts (standing ovations followed by tedious, farty van journeys), and happiness is tricky to pinpoint if you're not prepared to accept the bitter with the sweet. So... I have noticed that the most sublime, relaxed days I remember in recent years have involved no expectations and no deadlines, just a zen-like commitment to being in the moment, with people I have known a very long time. So I would say that it's important to clear the decks from time to time, if you're in a happiness deficit. That, and the morning breastfeed is a daily dose of pure love.

What’s the best stress relief advice you’ve ever been given?

My mother is always slipping me bottles of vitamins just when I need them most. I'm not very good at being told not to stress, but my husband has a gentle way of saying "Try not to..." rather than "Don't..." which helps to re-set my brain. Also, asking "What's the worst that could happen?" is common wisdom, but my darling friend Cathy taught me to ask "What's the best that could happen?" For example: "If I take the afternoon off because things are getting on top of me, what's the best that could happen?" It's a neat flip. Language is so important. Also important: how your stress manifests in the people around you, especially when you're their leader. Sometimes you just have to take a good, hard look at yourself.

What is your most treasured possession?

A circle of girlfriends I would honestly die for. Materially, it used to be a metal "Lawnman" pin that Don McGlashan gave a teenaged me when my family were Front Lawn stalkers back in the 80s (Front Lawn kickstarted my career desires in many ways). But I lost it and the jacket it was pinned to. So I try not to worry too much about possessions other than a soft spot for my parents' wedding rings that we now have the honour of wearing since Dad died, and a beautiful necklace made by Sally Brown (SJC Jewels) for my 40th.

What is the most important thing life has taught you thus far?

It's okay, you're not a dick. It's also okay to be a dick. Don't worry about it. Nobody else is worrying about it. Let it go.

What is your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in your industry?

Sorry, I can't stop at one:

1. Hustle and save. Hustle and save.

2. If you're a woman: ask for more money. Even if they can't give it to you, you'll respect yourself more for having asked. And if they can't give it to you, tell them you'll work a four-day week instead.

3. Choose your gossip wisely.

4. If a project feels toxic, that's because it is toxic. Get out, fast.

5. You don't have to go to everything, but networking is important. Stop at the third free drink though.

What is your big project or goal for 2018?

I currently have a dream desk job on a major documentary series about NZ songwriters, alongside an ongoing contract with Letterboxd, so the big goal is to find work-mum-life-exercise balance. Beyond that, I'm developing a couple of major projects that will bring delight and joy.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

All the songwriters I'm meeting this year. This is such a small country and the margins are tiny. How they continue creating their art against all the odds is a source of magic and inspiration. Also: the people working to improve things for the neediest, most disadvantaged in our community. As a full-time working mum with no meaningful blocks of time for my own artistic or activist pursuits, I have the deepest gratitude for those doing the hard yards for the rest of us. My taxes are my contribution right now.

What do you continually ask yourself?

Why did I say yes to that?

Who do you collaborate with best?

People who are up for it, and who feel safe to work with.

Who has challenged you to be better than you once were?

My fearless and high-achieving peers: the Jo Randersons and Marianne Elliotts and Rachael Kings and Lisa Taoumas and Flight of the Conchords and Jacinda Arderns and Grant Robertsons of the world.

How does courage manifest in your work?

In this small industry, which is so dependent on public funding, every project feels like an act of courage. You're asking people to trust you with their stories, your crew are trusting that you won't bleed them dry of hours and money, and we all have to report to the taxpayers.

When has mentorship played a role in your life?

One of my mentors - I've been fortunate to have a few in this industry - was the TV producer Caterina de Nave. When she died, the extent of her mentorship across our small industry became clear and it still boggles me how she managed to make every one of us feel individually heard, seen and supported. I'm bloody glad she got a gong for her work because it was beyond impressive, and very much behind the scenes. When I became pregnant at 42, the wonderful Judy Darragh emerged as a feminist "older-mother" mentor and I'm consistently inspired by her in every way. She said to me: "Watch out. Feminism stops when you get pregnant." It was a startling statement and I'm discovering all the ways in which it is true, and it's made me question my pre-parenthood feminism in so many ways. I had thought I was so intersectional but, yeah, nah. Now I'm waking up. And for the past few years the brilliant feminist-tech-strategy genius Brenda Leeuwenberg has been a fierce and funny source of support and advice. At this age, I'm finding that my peer group is super handy because we're all old enough and ugly enough to have lived shared experiences and we can trade secrets.