Rotorua actor and playwright Jess Sayer has scooped a major award for her theatre work that sees her take home a prize of $10,000 cash.
The 25-year-old, who works as a performer at the Blue Baths, won the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award at the Playmarket Accolades held at the Hannah Playhouse in Wellington on Sunday.
The $10,000 cash prize recognises early success in the career of the winning playwright and is designed to encourage their future in theatre.
Miss Sayer is an actor and playwright who works in theatre in both Rotorua and Auckland.
She told the Rotorua Daily Post winning the award was "amazing, surreal and life-changing".
"I didn't think I was anywhere near that level yet. It's phenomenal. In this industry it's really hard sometimes and you can get down. But to know there are always people out there rooting for you, that's a special feeling."
Miss Sayer has worked at the Blue Baths with her partner Darlene Mohekey for the past two years.
The couple this year were the winners of the 3 to 8-year-old category in the Plays for the Young competition for Dexter's Deep Sea Discovery, a pantomime performed at the Blue Baths.
Miss Sayer credits Blue Baths owner Jo Romanes with giving them the ability to write and perform freely.
"She is incredible. I don't think there is anywhere else in New Zealand like it ... She does so much for us and is so humble about it."
Miss Sayer said the prize money was an incredible boost and meant her student loan was now wiped. She and Miss Mohekey were also going to buy a puppy and the rest of the money would be spent on developing scripts and workshops.
After earning a three-year Bachelor in Communications degree at AUT to become a journalist, Miss Sayer instead went to drama school after realising she wanted to pursue her first love of creative writing.
She has won the Playmarket b4 25 competition three times and been shortlisted for the Adam New Zealand Play Award twice. She co-founded Junket Theatre Company in 2012.
Bruce Mason Playwriting Award
* Worth $10,000 cash
* Awarded once a year to future stars
* Named after Bruce Mason, considered to be New Zealand's first most significant playwright
* Decided through voting by a panel of leading New Zealand artistic directors and script advisers
* Previous winners include Hone Kouka, Briar Grace-Smith, Oscar Kightley, Jo Randerson and Arthur Meek