Donna Stout went from being a bank clerk to second assistant director on Shortland Street.

Guess which she likes best?

The 24-year-old was brought up in Raetihi and her family now live at Tangiwai.

Working on the TV soap as second assistant director, which means being the person in charge of all the background and extra action, is "absolutely great".


She said her move to television came when her mum told her she didn't have to stay a bank clerk all her life.

"She said if I was older, then that would be it, I'd be stuck with it. But because I was still quite young I should take a risk and jump out."

Which is exactly what Donna did.

"I left my bank job. I had given four weeks notice and halfway through I was getting very nervous ... then I got this interview for Shortland Street."

She had already completed the SouthSeas Film and TV School year's course and had been selected out of 100 students to be one of the few production trainees.

Her television interview went well, and when she was offered the job she felt as though all her birthdays had arrived at once.

"Even though it's 12-hour days and we're shooting the entire weekly programme on an incredibly tight schedule, I love every minute of it."

When she was a child living in Raetihi, Donna had adored being in the Phoenix Players productions at the old Royal Theatre.

"I just loved theatre and the stage, so working on Shortie Street is perfect."

The weeks are always hectic.

"My job is to select the extras from the agencies and direct all the background action like people in the IV, patients in the waiting room or in the treatment rooms, or the nurses and people you see walking along the corridors."

However, she finds it extremely irritating when people grizzle on Facebook about the actors, saying how nasty and vicious they all are.

"They can be very cruel and it's so not true. The actors are great people, but that's what they are - they're actors, it's not real."

Donna said the programme was aimed at 12-year-old girls from regional towns.

"The show has an incredibly fast turnaround. I've been told it has the fastest turnaround of any soap in the world."

Donna describes herself as a small-town girl who got lucky.

"I love getting up for work in the morning; it beats working at the bank."