My first job was ...

when I was 16 I collected and cleaned plates in a Kings Plant Barn cafe. They tried to teach me to make coffee but I was useless. I also did some modelling for the local kids' store when I was 3 years old, but I don't know if that counts.

It taught me ... that I never wanted to clean tables for a job. I now have the utmost appreciation for anyone who works in hospitality because it's really hard and generally speaking you get very little respect or thanks from customers. Now I try to be really nice to people who serve me any type of food or drink.

My big break came … when I did theatre just out of high school. I was in a monologue play called Bare and it became quite a big New Zealand hit play. I got to tour and travel for that, and that got me seen. I got my agent through it, so that was a big deal and opened doors for me.


The last job I quit was … I don't think I've ever quit a job. I've never been fired from a job either. I've been cut out of movies. I've been cast a few times as a cop and I got cut out of two different movies before I even had a chance to say any lines. One was for In My Father's Den, I got to the South Island, I had my wardrobe, but they told me they'd just done some re-writes any my character was no longer in the film. I didn't want to quit but they quit me.

The most famous person I've ever met is … Celine Dion. There was a campaign on Twitter, after we made a video of us telling her to come and see our film The Breaker Upperers in Australia, to get her to meet us. That got through to her people and they invited us to meet her in Melbourne. She was amazing. I got some duty-free presents – a sheep tea-towel and some novelty sheep poop chocolates. I handed her the bag of treats. She thought it was fertiliser pellets for her garden before realising it was chocolate.

She was ... the most delightful person. She put her hand around my waist, so I'll never wash my T-shirt again. I walked out feeling like I was walking on air.

The best time I've had on set was … with Hayley Sproull, filming The Great Kiwi Bake Off. Hayley and I clicked straight away and it was awesome getting to know her and hosting Bake Off with her. I'm really lucky that I'm in a job where I can choose the people I work with a lot of the time (although Hayley and I were thrust together). We've got a very similar sense of humour. We're both a bit weird, but we can be weird together.

But the worst was … when I was doing my solo show, No.2 in Christchurch and someone started choking. I stopped what I was doing but I stayed in character. I asked the technician, in the voice of an 83-year-old Fijian woman, to turn the lights on. Someone did the Heimlich, we had a brief conversation (all in character), the house lights came back down and I carried on with the show.

My dream role would be … to replace Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible franchise or to be the new James Bond and replace Daniel Craig.

• Madeleine Sami hosts The Great Kiwi Bake Off on TVNZ2, Tuesdays at 7.30pm