If Amanda Billing wanted people to know about her t-shirt designs, she's getting help in all the right places in the form of budding star Thomasin McKenzie.

The actress, artist and designer has been creating and producing jewellery and clothing for years now, but her t-shirts are now starting to take off on an international and local level, thanks to some assistance from some top NZ stars.

Billing – who played Doctor Sarah Potts on Shortland Street for a decade - created her Strong Female Character t-shirt a couple of years ago and gave one to young up-and-coming actress McKenzie to wear when she went overseas to film Leave No Trace, the indie flick that brought her acting talents to the attention of the world.

McKenzie wore the t-shirt in several of her photo and red carpet opportunities with director Debra Granik (who also launched Jennifer Lawrence's career), and people started to take note of the statement t-shirt.

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Thomisin McKenzie Spy
Thomisin McKenzie Spy

Thomasin's career has since gone on to reach new heights with roles in movies The King, True History of the Kelly Gang and Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit. She has showcased Billing's t-shirts in several press opportunities, giving international attention to the Kiwi designer.

"Thomasin's mum, Miranda [Harcourt] spotted me on my Instagram wearing the earliest version of the design, which I'd had made for a Pop Up Globe photo shoot. She thought that Thomasin would feel confident in the spotlight at Sundance if she had her own tee, so I turned it around virtually overnight, and off they went," says Billing.

It's understood that McKenzie will feature in an international fashion magazine next year and may be showcasing Billing's t-shirts.


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Billing's designs are also finding local support. She recently managed to round up her The Brokenwood Mysteries co-stars to showcase the t-shirts.

The likes of Laura Hill, Yvette Parsons, Aroha Rawson and Romy Hooper feature alongside Billing in tonight's episode, which revolves around the women's prison in the show's fictional Kiwi town and takes a look at several of the murderesses from previous series.

They all joined forces to model Billing's t-shirts for a recent photoshoot and were keen to make a statement with the clothes.

"Amanda asked if we could help her out and we were all like – an excuse to hang out and parade the streets like the bossest girl gang? Hell yeah. It was super fun," says Laura Hill, who stars as lawyer Miranda Temple in The Brokenwood Mysteries.

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Amanda Billing t-shirt design
Amanda Billing t-shirt design

With the now screening on 21 channels in 17 territories worldwide and international fans desperate to learn more about the stars of the show, Billing looks set to attract more attention for her design work.

Other designs include t-shirt slogans 'Feminist AF' and 'What would Bowie Do?' Billing's website www.mandybeetees.co.nz will be up and running in early 2020 to capitalise on all the attention.

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