A Kiwi musical theatre star has taken the leap from the stage to the mic with immediate success on the reality television show The Voice Australia.
Napier-born and raised Akina Maria Edmonds, who goes by Akina Maria on the show, has already had a more than 10-year career in musical theatre in New Zealand and Australia, before she decided to enter Season 8 of the Australian version of a show where contestants sing in blind auditions, against each other and in live shows.
"I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone into a very public and exposing place, which is weird to say because music theatre has audiences of up to 2000 people a show eight times a week," Edmonds said.
"But also I wanted to discover myself as an artist outside of the wigs and costumes and characters, more importantly, who I am not and the timing was perfect so knew I had to do it."
Edmonds has starred in Australian musical theatre, where she has lived for the past 10 years, performing in shows including Avenue Q, Hairspray the Musical, and Disney's The Lion King.
Edmond said that auditioning for the show was a nerve-wracking experience having to perform to the back of judges Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, Boy George and Kelly Rowland.
"I was just hopeful for a chair turn.
"Initially I was hoping for Guy or Kelly but again was so open to any of the coaches," she said.
"But it was amazing, never have I auditioned without being able to see the panel, so to see faces and smiling faces at that, was what it was all about."
She managed to get both Sebastian and George to both turn their seats, but she then had to choose between the two to work with on the show.
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"I would've gone with both if I could've, especially with Boy George's wealth of knowledge and experience both professionally and personally, but it was Guy that I resonated with more in terms of style."
Edmond still has family based in New Zealand with a grandmother, cousins and a sister still living in Napier.
But although the show was a big hit in Australia, TVNZ has announced it will not screen Season 8 of the show.
"My family have been able to see the song and the 'artist in the spotlight' clips through The Voice Australia official YouTube channel, but haven't been able to see the whole package and interview outside of that," she said
"My cousin did take her phone over to my nanny's to show her me singing which was very sweet."