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Celebrity News

Kiwi drama queens: Amanda Billing & Siobhan Marshall

These Kiwi drama queens just love to hate each other - onscreen, that is!

By Anna Ferrick
Amanda Billing has never been a big fan of Dancing with the Stars NZ. “I’m always too scared watching things like that,” she laughs. “It’s too much pressure. I don’t want to see my friends fall over.”
But the actress couldn’t resist tuning in when her gal pal and Find Me a Maori Bride co-star Siobhan Marshall, a self-confessed klutz, began kicking up her heels on the dance floor for the hit TV3 reality series. “Curiosity got the better of me in the end. Siobhan looks effing stunning. I love seeing her shake it!”
The blonde bombshell dancer and her enthusiastic supporter are not just two of Aotearoa’s most glamorous and popular leading ladies, but they’re firm friends as well. Strangely, however, these best buddies have developed a habit of playing women who hate each other.
“It is funny how that’s worked out,” laughs Amanda on our exclusive Woman’s Day photo shoot. “We get along really well in real life, so it is pretty amusing we keep playing characters who don’t get along!”
Despite both having worked in the acting industry for 12 years, the pair only became co-stars for the first time in early 2014, when Siobhan’s Shortland Street alter ego Dr Ava Erikkson created a killer virus that was ultimately responsible for the death of Amanda’s beloved character Sarah Potts, sending shockwaves around the country.
“Honestly, it was kind of nice to have the person responsible for Sarah’s demise be someone I like so much,” says Amanda, 39.
Image: Jackie Meiring
“It was really nice, especially in those emotional scenes at the end, to hear ‘cut’ and have smiley Siobhan in front of me. We’d never met before that, but I’d admired her work from afar and as soon as we got in a room together, it was just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! We have a very similar energy and a lot in common.”
But that certainly wasn’t the end of Siobhan and Amanda’s professional relationship, with the Aucklanders recently reunited for Maori TV’s new comedy Find Me a Maori Bride. Again, their characters are not on the same page.
Image: Jackie Meiring
Bride wars!
“I don’t know what it is about us, but apparently it works when we don’t like each other,” jokes Siobhan, 32. “I’ve ended up playing the bitch both times, so I’m not sure what that says about me!”
The eight-part series focuses on cousins Tama and George, two metrosexual men searching for Maori wives in order to claim their share of a $47 million inheritance. Siobhan plays high-maintenance housewife Debbie, the ex-wife of George, while Amanda stars as his sister, the hopelessly romantic Chrystal.
Although Debbie and Chrystal spend a lot of their screen time bitching about each other, Siobhan says, “When your characters don’t get on, you end up not having many scenes together, so when we got to the end of filming, I was a bit gutted that we hadn’t had the opportunity to do more stuff. But you never know – we might get together again in the future.”
Image: Jackie Meiring
Smiling, Amanda adds, “It would be seriously odd if we ended up playing another pair of women who don’t like each other, though!”
Out of character, the girls can’t speak more highly of one another.“Amanda is just such a talented actress,” says Siobhan. “She’s so amazing and gives so much during her performances. She’s very real, and very honest and funny.”
The feeling is mutual, Amanda insists. “I loved working with her on Shortland Street, so I was really stoked when I found out she was in Find Me a Maori Bride too. She’s just so cool and sweet and funny. I don’t know how anyone could not like her.”
The acting duo’s professional lives have taken a similar path over the years, with both women enjoying success on popular local productions, and they say finding friends you can trust is crucial.
Siobhan explains, “It’s not a huge industry, so you do end up seeing the same people around a lot. I feel like Amanda and I have had a very similar experience, with her coming off Shortland Street after a long time and me coming off Outrageous Fortune, so I totally understand how that feels and I’ll always be here for support.”
And Amanda is there if Siobhan needs to let off some steam from her time on Dancing with the Stars. Her friend is right to worry about her falling over, Siobhan laughs. “I’m so clumsy. If anyone’s going to stack it, it’s me!”

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