It's "game on" for award-winning series Head High as they head into production for a second series with some new faces joining the cast and some secondary characters from Season One taking on much bigger roles this time around.
Wentworth star Robbie Magasiva headlines the new additions to the Head High gang, joining the award-winning cast of Miriama McDowell, trans-Tasman star Craig Hall and acting sensation Jayden Daniels.
McDowell and Daniels won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at last year's NZTV Awards, where McDowell, in her acceptance speech, made the point that this was the first time a Māori family had been the central characters in a prime-time drama series since the 1970s.
Former boy-band star Jordi Webber, we are told, is a star on the rise and producers have reprised and enlarged his role of sidekick Constable Cruz. This season, the series delves more into the police work of lead character Renee played by McDowell.
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They are also joined by familiar faces such as Joe Naufahu (Game of Thrones), Lionel Wellington (Shortland Street, Kura) and up-and-comers Te Ao o Hinepehinga Rauna and Brooklyn Nathan, who have made big impacts on Shortland Street since their time on the first series of Head High.
Webber, a musician turned actor, was part of the manufactured band Titanium in the early 2000s and tells Spy he is thoroughly enjoying his time working with the acclaimed cast and becoming more ensconced in the series. Since his band days, he has kept up with his musical roots, creating original songs and releasing an EP under the name Waazzoo and the Vibes. He has also created a strong acting resume with roles on shows such as Power Rangers, Shortland Street, The Deadlands and the feature film Together Forever Tea, alongside Kim Crossman and Jay Ryan.
Webber is grateful to be part of a series so thoroughly immersed in te ao Māori.
"Being part of Head High has shown me what it means to truly embrace Māori culture in the film world. The crew speak te reo on set and all of the camera calls and sequences are spoken in te reo. So, from being surrounded by the language, to speaking the language with my character and to be part of a story that is based around a predominantly Māori family, it almost feels like full immersion."
"I love my character, Cruz, his warmth, his comedy, his humility and his love. I'm looking forward to bringing to life the intricacies of this character and the feelings that were behind closed doors in Season One. Cruz has been waiting for his moment and he isn't going to sit on his hands any longer."
We also hear that Magasiva is embracing the opportunity to be back working on a Kiwi series and is working with his daughter, Sophie, for the first time. She works behind the scenes as part of crew. Magasiva has quickly jumped back into the industry at home, securing roles on Head High in Auckland and Under the Vines alongside Rebecca Gibney, shooting in Queenstown.