New Zealand actors are getting more work on US film and TV productions. The most recent winner is the 19-year-old former Shortland Street actor KJ Apa, who plays the all-American Archie Andrews in Riverdale.

The Twin Peaks-style series is a live action take on the old Archie comics, and recently started running on Netflix.

Apa also has a lead role in Altar Rock, an indie thriller that plays off the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The movie is currently in post-production.

This latest success does not come out of the blue. One agent, Graham Dunster of Auckland Actors, says New Zealanders have worked in Hollywood for many years.


But it has become easier these days, with higher quality internet services allowing actors to pitch for jobs from afar.

As well as Kiwis based here, some are working second jobs in LA while auditioning for work, in the time honoured way.

Every Uber driver in LA is an actor, jokes Imogen Johnson of actors' agent Johnson & Laird.

Johnson says the growth of the market is due to hard work selling actors in the US.

She says acting experience in globally recognised productions filmed here has also had an effect on actors getting work.

New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson says actors' agents in this country have become more active in the US.

Film producer John Barnett (Whale Rider) says casting directors are choosing the best people, rather than those closest at hand. Another factor is that US producers filming in New Zealand get to see actors in action on local shows, he says.

Among the Kiwi actors working in the US (not an exhaustive list):


Antony Starr made his name in the dual roles of Jethro and Van West in Outrageous Fortune. He scored four series in the lead role of Lucas Hood in Banshee from 2013 to 2016, and plays a key role as Garrett Hawthorne in American Gothic.

Cliff Curtis (The Dark Horse) is well known in Hollywood, most recently playing Travis Manawa in The Walking Dead.

Shortland Street alumnus Craig Parker (Guy Warner) plays Stephane Narcisse in the US drama series Reign.

Frankie Adams, who played Ula Levi on Shortland Street, was last year cast as Martian marine Bobbie Draper in the second series of the US science-fiction series The Expanse.

Gary Young, whose credits include Danny Kwan in the Kiwi drama Harry, was recently cast as Mr Willoughby in the drama series Outlander.

Jay Ryan, who was Kevin in Go Girls, played Joel in Mary Kills, and Dr Vincent Keller in Beauty and the Beast.

• Former professional rugby player Joe Naufahu is Khal Moro in Game of Thrones.

Keisha Castle-Hughes is Obara Sand in Game of Thrones and Donna Mancini in Roadies.

Lucy Lawless plays Countess Marburg in Salem, and Ruby Knowby in Ash vs Evil Dead, an action/comedy/fantasy series.

Martin Henderson played Stuart Neilson on Shortland Street. In the US, he starred in the series The Red Road and is Dr Nathan Riggs in Grey's Anatomy.

Melanie Lynskey played Michelle Pierson in the Duplass Brothers series Togetherness on HBO and is lead in the Sundance Film Festival 2017 Grand Jury prize-winning feature, I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which is currently on Netflix.

• Former Royal NZ Ballet dancer Michelle Ang plays Alex in Fear the Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462.

Rhys Darby, formerly of Flight of the Conchords, is Coran in Voltron: Legendary Defender, a science-fiction series for Netflix. He also played Charles in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Rose McIver has appeared in Once Upon a Time and Masters of Sex.

Stand by: It's politics season

The TV3 politics show The Nation returns this weekend - an unofficial start to the election campaign for those who are that way inclined.

And on TVNZ, Q+A begins the following Sunday morning, in a timeslot that has become the last hurrah for traditional serious current affairs, as distinct from commercial shows like Sunday.

This year these taxpayer-funded current affairs shows have a special role. The Project may yet prove me wrong, but it will be TV3's first election without a prime-time current affairs show.

The networks will be hoping for a contentious campaign to boost news ratings, as Trump did for CNN and Fox in the United States.

New Zealand is not Trump's America, and our media are less inclined to being part of a cultural elite. However, our media companies are going through similar financial and cultural upheavals as their US counterparts.

Six months out, we have little idea of the structure of the parliamentary Press Gallery and the number of journalists who will cover the election.

On March 15 we could have a better idea, with the Commerce Commission due to announce whether it has approved the merger of NZME and Fairfax. That decision may have an effect on staffing levels, including those for the Press Gallery.