Jennifer Ward-Lealand O.N.Z.M.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand O.N.Z.M.


11/8/1962, New Zealand

Birth Name

Jennifer Ward-Lealand


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Jennifer Ward-Lealand is one of New Zealand's leading actresses. Her realization that she wanted a career in theatre came in 1979 when she was watching the Theatre Corporate acting company in "Metamorphosis" in Wellington. She also decided then and there that that was where she wanted to study.…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • As President of New Zealand Actors Equity, Jennifer was New Zealand's representative to the International Federation of Actors World Congress which took place Morocco in October of 2008.

    • In 2007 Jennifer co-starred with Michael Lawrence in Steven Berkoff's Decadence. The New Zealand Herald review said, "Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Michael Lawrence . . . give a master in acting that makes for must-see theatre. . . . a joy for an audience to watch and an inspiration for wannabe actors".

    • In January of 2008, Jennifer and her husband Michael Hurst taught masterclasses for the Centre City Music Theatre Summer School, which is aimed at anyone from age 8 on up.

    • In 2005, Jennifer was invited to participate as a director in 24-Hour Deadline Theatre, which randomly assigned a writer, a director, and three actors to each of 10 teams. Each team was given the same mystery prop and twenty-four hours in which to write, rehearse, and stage a short play. All of the plays were then performed in front of a paying audience when the time had elapsed.

      In 2006 she was again invited to direct one of the 8 teams, and her play, The House that Jack Built (written by Fiona Samuel) was selected as the winner.

    • In 1987 Jennifer was the Winner of "Best Actress" for the play Breaking the Silence at the Manawatu Evening Standard Awards.

    • In 1987 Jennifer was the winner of the "Best Actress" for the short film Danny & Raewyn at the Guild of Film & Television Arts Awards.

    • In 1992 Jennifer was the winner of the "Rising Star Award" at the New Zealand Entertainment Awards.

    • In 1998 Jennifer was the winner of "Best Theatrical Performance" at the New Zealand Entertainment Awards.

    • In 2005, Jennifer was nominated for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role" for the movie Fracture at the New Zealand Screen Awards.

    • Jennifer has taught classes in musical theatre at the Performing Arts School of New Zealand at Auckland.

    • In 2005, Jennifer won the Metro Readers' Poll for "Best New Zealand Actress". Her husband Michael Hurst won "Best New Zealand Actor" in the same year.

    • In 2006, Jennifer released her first solo cd "Falling In Love Again", which features the songs of Marlene Dietrich.

    • Jennifer has two traveling cabaret shows, "Falling In Love Again", where she plays Marlene Dietrich, even singing in German and French; and "The Look of Love", which celebrates love in all it's guises, and features songs by Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Burt Bacharach, and many others.

    • One thing Jennifer does to help her get herself into character is wear a special perfume for each different role, such as Chanel no.5 when she was playing Marlene Dietrich. Only she can smell it, but it provides her with a constant unconscious cue for her acting.

    • Jennifer is a talented singer as well as an actress, and has performed in such productions as The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Janet, NZ tour), Cabaret (Sally Bowles, Watershed Theatre), and Into the Woods (The Witch, Auckland Theatre Company), among many others.

    • Jennifer's directing credits include A Christmas Carol for the Auckland Theatre Company, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Arohaotearoa and Sister Wonder Woman (co-director) for the Silo Theatre; Let Yourself Go (which she also devised), Big River and By Thunder for Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts; and Acis and Galatea for NBR NZ Opera.

    • In 1993, Jennifer won Best Actress for the film Desperate Remedies for the Catalonian International Film Festival.

    • Jennifer was named the President of New Zealand Actors Equity in the beginning of 2007.

    • Jennifer is almost 5'11" (180 cm), has blond hair and blue eyes. Husband Michael Hurst is 5'5".

    • In 2007, Jennifer was appointed as an Officer of The New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to the Theatre & the Community. Her husband Michael Hurst received the same award in 2005.

    • Jennifer is represented professionally by the firm Johnson & Laird Management, as is her husband Michael Hurst.

    • Jennifer is married to fellow Kiwi actor/director Michael Hurst.

  • Quotes

    • Jennifer: I think it is as right for a celebrity to speak out about something they believe as it is for anyone . Sometimes a celebrity can bring a very helpful focus to a worthy cause.

    • Jennifer: (when asked if she regrets anything in her life) Saying good bye to the children as I headed off to perform in the theatre.

    • Jennifer: (when asked what she loves doing on a vacation) Reading at least a book a day! Haven't been able to do this since having kids!

    • Jennifer: I used to tidy my friends' bedrooms when I was young. Their parents loved it- not so sure about my friends!

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