WATCH: Belinda Henley talks to New Zealander of the Year, Jennifer Ward-Lealand who is in lockdown with her husband, step mother and two cats.

In the third of our video interviews with prominent New Zealanders, Belinda Henley asks Jennifer Ward-Lealand about the impact the current crisis is having on actors and the arts.

The well-known actress says she was about to kick off a round of speaking engagements as Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year when coronavirus hit.

“It was very strange to be given that role and all the energy that went with it and boom, we’re in lockdown and all the talks I was lined up to give all over the country toppled like dominoes and all my performing work toppled like dominoes and I feel like a quarter of the year has gone and I am itching to do things with this New Zealander of the Year thing.”

Ward-Lealand described the immediate outlook for actors as “really grim.”

In her own case, she had five jobs fall over in one day but said actors are, by necessity, a resilient bunch.

“You know, the theatre has kept going through the plague in the 1600s and it has a 2000 year-old history. Performers are part of that whakapapa and there will always be a need for human beings to connect…and, of course, that is what the arts does for us.”

Ward- Lealand says the lockdown has allowed her to concentrate on her role as president of Equity – the actors’ union, but it has made her realise how much she misses performing live.

“Zoom is wonderful but God, I love being in front of people and talking to people and rehearsing with people and having that true communion between audience and performer.”

Belinda Henley (twitter: @HenleyBelinda) is a freelance broadcast journalist and producer based in Hawkes Bay

Leave a comment