Brokenwood Mysteries' femmes fatales reveal their own criminal secrets

Seven sirens of the popular show unite for an epic season finale.

By Ellen Mackenzie
As the bad girls of The Brokenwood Mysteries come together for our Weekly photoshoot, they can hardly look more formidable in an ensemble of blood-red.
From left, Amanda Billing, Laura Hill, Aroha Rawson, Teuila Blakely, Yvette Parsons, Romy Hooper and Tracy Lee Gray are joining forces for an epic season finale of the Kiwi crime drama set inside a women's prison.
The talented group chat to us about their outrageous characters and spill their own criminal secrets…

Romy Hooper

All images: Photography Davide Zerelli
New to the ranks this year, Romy plays a young woman called Corina who was jailed after murdering her abusive husband.
Despite her troubled past, the 31-year-old redhead adores her character.
"The worst thing she did was marry a man who was unable to love her fully," says the Nothing Trivial actress.
"I love that she actually did it – she stood in an awful and unlivable situation and despite the consequences for her own life, she actually did it."
Romy admits the closest she's come to crossing the law was stealing scorched almonds from a supermarket produce bin when she was a kid – "I've felt guilty for years!" – but she relates to what her character went through.
"We've all been with a person or in a situation and thought it was going to go a certain way, only to have the complete opposite eventuate," she says.
"I've also felt trapped, as she did, and have had to make some really tough calls to free myself of them. But I don't relate to the violence – I'm too much of
a peacekeeper!"

Tracy Lee Gray

Though she's not quite as criminal as her character – her biggest crime was pretending to be someone else to get into a party at the Cannes Film Festival – Tracy (45) can't help but admire Trudy Neilson.
"I really like the love and loyalty that Trudy gives to those she believes is worthy. She will do pretty much anything for her family, though she obviously takes it a little too far!" she says with a laugh, referencing Trudy poisoning her next-door neighbour.
"She's no role model, but she is loyal to a fault."
This will be Tracey's third appearance on Brokenwood after appearing in seasons three and four, and she takes great pride in being part of the successful Kiwi series."I love having the chance to work with the absolute legends who create this show. The world-class writers, directors and producers, the tireless crew and of course these amazing women in red!"

Teuila Blakely

A new girl on the Brokenwood jail block, Teuila jumped at the chance to join the hit Prime show this season.
"I have always wanted to work on this show!" gushes the Samoan beauty.
"Never did I imagine that when I got the opportunity to do so, it would be with an ensemble of such strong female characters, portrayed by some of the strongest female actors in this country."
According to Teuila (44), her character Angela "lives life large and in charge" and is the big boss running the prison.
"I love that she is a successful woman of conviction and unapologetic to the point of oblivion. I relate to her drive, her authority and her uniqueness. I also love her clothes!" she adds, with a cheeky smile.

Laura Hill

Though her character may not exactly be a good person, Laura says lawyer Miranda Temple is a joy to play.
"I love that she is good at her job and has no qualms about any moral murkiness," says Laura.
In recent years, the 44-year-old, who made a name for herself as nurse Toni for seven years on Shortland Street, has been working as a script editor – but getting back in front of the camera after first appearing on Brokenwood in 2016 wasn't an opportunity she could pass up.
"I had a fantastic time working on such a female-centric episode. Long live the ladies of Brokenwood – murders aside, of course," she says.
When asked to name the most rebellious thing she's ever done, she says, "I've spoken to Miranda and she's advised me not to say anything incriminating."

Aroha Rawson

When asked to describe her character, prison guard Denise Karawa, in three words, Aroha chooses, "private, arrogant and observant".
While her character may be working in the jail, not serving time, the Mean Mums actress warns that this woman still has a sharp edge.
"She has the respect of the inmates, but not through lack of bullying tactics!" she reveals.
"Denise is very confident in her abilities and revels in the status it gives her."
Aroha says joining the Brokenwood team this year has been a fantastic experience, and playing a strong and confident woman was a dream. But her highlight has been bonding with the women playing inmates.
"It's a sisterhood. Many of the women in the prison became very close and I think that will last for many years to come," says the 44-year-old with a smile.

Yvette Parsons

When it comes to deciding if her character Rayleen Hogg is naughty or nice, Yvette is on the fence.
The fragile yet terrifying Rayleen made her mark in 2015 when she murdered a country music star."She's neither good nor bad. She did a bad thing but, looking at her life, you get to feel that Rayleen was not quite responsible for herself," Yvette explains.
"She is in a way a victim of her childhood, of her family dynamic, of lifelong bullying, of the mental health system and of modern society."Yvette (58) admits she has a rebellious past too.
"I was arrested in London in the '80s for attempting to break into a squat. I spent the night in a South London police cell and it was one of the scariest experiences of my life, but luckily there was no criminal conviction.
"If I was ever arrested again, it would probably be for public nudity!'

Amanda Billing

The beloved Kiwi actress jumped at the chance to step back into the shoes of the rude and blunt Brenda.
"I love her saltiness! It's really fun to play someone who only cares what people think of her when she's on a mission to get something," says Amanda.
The former Shortland Street star says she's very different from her character but she relates to the emotions Brenda faces this season.
"It wasn't hard to see life through her eyes. I'm better adjusted and have actual self-awareness, but in my dark times I've felt as bad as she does. I think we all have because we've all felt disappointed, hurt, lonely and desperate for change."
Amanda (43) first appeared on the show in 2016, when her housekeeper character ended up in prison in a Cluedo-style episode – but now this Brokenwood baddie is determined to change her ways.
"Brenda's in jail for a crime of passion. The guy she did it for turned out to be a total snake so she's bitter as hell. She's decided to get out of jail as soon as possible by getting her sentence reduced with good behaviour."

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