Local girl features in movie

by Mike Isle

A new New Zealand comedy, which had its world premiere last week, has a local actress in a main role.

Anna-Maree Thomas, originally from Burnham, features in the critically-acclaimed movie Hibiscus and Ruthless.

Hibiscus and Ruthless, tells the story of two childhood friends, Ruth and Hibiscus, in their final year of university; Ruth becomes part of Hibiscus’s family, growing up under Hibiscus’s mother’s strict rules, but not being bound by them. No going out, and no boyfriends.

Anna-Maree takes on the lead role of Ruth also known as Ruthless. A take no-nonsense New Zealand girl.

Having two female leads in a New Zealand film is rare and more so for comedy.

It’s an opportunity Anna-Maree relishes but the greatest challenge she faced in preparing for the role, is that the character of Ruth is worlds away from her family farm in Burnham.

“Ruth has grown up in Auckland in an urban environment, in a Samoan family, and I had very little exposure to Pasifika culture.

“I was stoked to get the role, but I knew it was going to be a lot of work needed in order for me to portray this character,” she said.

Anna-Maree immersed herself in her co-star’s family environment learning the Samoan language, protocols and cooking.

“I really had to focus on spoken language. There’s a particular way that Ruth needed to speak colloquialisms and mannerisms that would help make her plausible for someone that is Ruth in real life,” she said Anna-Maree is really excited about how the film has turned out and how it has been received; it was a rapturous reception at the world premiere in Auckland last week with the audience not being shy to congratulate and embrace Anna-Maree as one of their own.

Anna-Maree is under no illusions as to the uncertainties that come with being an actor.

She knows it’s early days in her career and can’t wait to see what opportunities come her way given how Hibiscus and Ruthless has been received by audiences, it’s sure to be plenty.

Hibiscus and Ruthless hits New Zealand cinemas January 25 2018.