The majority of filming for a new feature film called Poppy took place well before lockdown started. It was a hive of activity as the production and acting teams went from one location to the next in Kāpiti. The film is about a young Down syndrome woman who assumes she's entitled to live her life like everyone else, yet the the person she trusts most puts her in the 'disability' box, forcing her to take control of her destiny. Playing the lead role is Libby Hunsdale who we caught up with.

Overall what was the filming experience like?

Everything was amazing.

I made great friends with the crew and cast.


I'm now connected on Instagram with some of them.

What were some of the filming challenges for you?
Character building with actors who I had to have a deep connection with.

What were some of the filming highlights?
Obviously getting the lead role and doing the work.

What's next in terms of the production process?
We have one more week of filming and I'm very excited about it.

Did you have an acting background before this?
I did but only on stage in school productions.

Why did you want to be involved in the film?
I wanted the experience.

Libby Hunsdale in her trailer along Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach. Photo / Linda Niccol Poppy Pictures
Libby Hunsdale in her trailer along Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach. Photo / Linda Niccol Poppy Pictures

What did you have to do in the audition?

I had to learn a monologue from the script and perform in front of the camera.


How did you feel when you got the lead role?
Really excited and nervous.

What did you do to prepare for the role?
I had to learn about being a mechanic at Midtown Motors in Whanganui, learn the road code.
I did screen acting lessons with Miranda Harcourt and also Ella Hope-Higginson who came to Whanganui to help me with my acting skills.

What future acting aspirations do you have?
I would love to become a full time actress.

Can you tell readers a bit about yourself?
I'm 18 years old and attend Whanganui Girls College. I have NCEA levels one and two.
I am half Irish and have Down syndrome.
My mother died five years ago and I live with my grandma who first contacted the casting director.
My Irish dad lives on Great Barrier Island with my stepmum and my little sister.
I usually fly up to them every school holidays where I swim, fish out on dad's boat and have great fun.
My grandad died two years ago and he was involved in theatre and dance and he really inspired me.
He was also keen on cars.

If you could invite three actors/actresses for dinner, past or present, who would they be?
Audrey Hepburn, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.