Shortand Street’s famous faces behind the scenes

After becoming soap stars, these Shorty favourites have found jobs on the other side of the camera

While we welcome the stars of Shorty into our homes every weeknight, there is an army of people behind the scenes we never get to see – but you might recognise some of the talented crew who work on New Zealand’s favourite soap.

Jacqueline Nairn

After playing nurse Wendy Cooper from 2010 to 2016, Jacqueline Nairn has moved on to directing Shorty. “Six years in lavender scrubs was enough!” she jokes, although there are still some things she misses about being on camera. “Getting my hair blow-waved every day – I loved it,” says the star, 50. “I never took having a full-time job as an actor for granted. It was an absolute gift to do what you love with a great bunch of people every day.”

Jacqueline’s favourite scene as Wendy was almost getting run over by TK Samuels at her daughter Bella’s wedding. “I didn’t get to do much stunt stuff as I was always the mum who picked up the pieces, so I loved that.”

Of the show’s anniversary, she says, “Shorty has been very precious to me from the moment I walked in back in February 2010. It’s changed my life.” It’s a Kiwi legend I’m incredibly proud to be a part of.”

Cece (Nicole) comforts an ailing Aggie.

Mia Blake

Of her year starring as Aggie Raymond on Shorty, the acclaimed actress, 43, says, “I loved doing all the emotional scenes with Nicole Whippy, and working with all the talented cast and crew.”

As for the most challenging part of her time on Ferndale? “Learning all the lines so quickly whilst also dealing with level 3 COVID rules, as well as wrangling my household and a new puppy!”

After Aggie’s emotional death, Mia became a director on the show, which means her days are filled with “reading and marking scripts, rehearsing, shooting scenes or editing”.

Asked how her experience in front of the camera helps, she says, “I can relate to the actors and the stress they’re under.”

Of Shortland Street’s milestone 30th birthday, Mia adds, “It’s in tense, but an absolute honour to be a part of.”

Emmet’s character Ross led Harper astray.

Emmett Skilton

The actor, 34, has fond memories of being reunited with his Almighty Johnsons co-star Ben Barrington during his short stint as nurse Ross Douglas in 2019.

“It’s always a great time when we get to hang out together,” he says. “But my favourite scene was Ross waking up very hungover with Harper after I’d convinced her to stay home from work and get drunk!”

Shortly afterwards, Shorty producers asked if he’d be interested in directing. Emmett recalls, “I told them I’d love to and they replied, ‘Great! You start in three weeks.’

“I’m pretty damn honoured to be part of making something I’ve watched and appreciated throughout my life, like so many Kiwis.”

Jessica had a hand in her character Julia’s death!

Jessica Joy Wood

Jessica found fame as cult escapee and ED consultant Julia Reynolds on Shortland Street in 2012, before her character’s deranged husband Dylan killed her by crashing their car into a tree in 2018.

“It was my favourite scene – I had an iconic finger-wiggling ‘will she live, won’t she live?’ moment,” says Jessica, 38. “I actually pitched Julia’s death as it would be a great story and writing is where my heart really lies.”

After working as a dialogue writer, the actress went on to become a storyliner, story editor, script editor and then script executive on Shorty. She’s now a co-head writer on the TVNZ 2 drama.

“I remember watching the very first episode as a girl, so to be part of this iconic show now is fabulous,” enthuses Jessica. “Shortland Street has been a huge part of my life for the last 10 years and I’m super-excited about how it’s evolving – here’s to the next 30!”

Toni had a turbulent marriage to Dr Chris Warner (Michael Galvin).

Laura Hill

Her alter ego Toni Warner (née Thompson) was the first character to give birth, get married and die on Shorty, but Laura, 47, wishes the nurse had done more during her nine years on the show.

“Frankly, I’m still bitter I didn’t get my ‘Toni on a pony’ storyline,” she laughs, joking that she keeps pitching a “zombie episode” so she can get back in front of the cameras.

Laura became a storyliner after Toni suddenly succumbed to norovirus, then turned script editor and is now co-head writer.

Of the soap’s anniversary, Laura adds, “Love it or loathe it, Shortland Street is part of Aotearoa’s television history and I’m proud to be part of it – and I suspect more people love it than loathe it, even if they don’t admit it!”

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