Press Release – New Zealand’s Got Talent
A 22-year-old Wellington singer is one of the first six semi-finalists named for New Zealand’s Got Talent. She is
Renee Maurice , who blew the roof off the St James Theatre with her performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”. The audience rose out of their seats for her before the song was finished, and the judges knew she was an easy choice to progress to the next round.
Renee sings at events around Wellington, and for two years has been working with the charity StarJam as a singing tutor for young people with special abilities. She says; “Our aim is to give these kids a chance to shine.”
Renee is a huge fan of musical theatre, and as a young member of StarJam she travelled to Los Angeles where she got to sing for one of her idols, Julie Andrews. She has also written and performed many of her own songs, and has a catalogue of these available on her personal website. She even had a song place no.3 on the Australian MP3 charts and stay there for 10 weeks. Renee’s ultimate fantasy is to wind up on Broadway working as a composer, or, she says; “as a star in lights!”
Also named amongst the first six semi-finalists are
Diamond Divas , a two-woman party who had the Wellington audience up on their feet dancing to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” at their audition. The Divas are long-time best friends Vicki Martin-Smith (49) and Mandy Stevenson (40) from Porirua, who both have office jobs but regularly perform private gigs and events.
Vicki is a mother of five, who works for a bank while also teaching and mentoring singers, and volunteering at her local karaoke club. She is a self-taught singer who loves Motown and old school reggae, and has known Mandy since she was 14-years-old.
Mandy is a mother of three, who works for a fuel company and has been singing since she was a little girl. Mandy’s father is the legendary performer Frankie Stevens, who has encouraged her singing, while at times also discouraging his oldest daughter from entering the entertainment industry. It was Vicki’s idea to enter NZGT; Mandy says, “She wants to put us out there for the nation! We could not get more inspired than to perform in front of masses of people. Kia ora!”
The other semi-finalists are:
50/50 Dance Crew , a 16-person group from Auckland, mostly students from Mt Roskill and Papatoetoe (aged between 16 and 24). They walked on stage at the audition rounds as an urban hip hop group; then in a burst of colour brought the ‘traditional’ half of their crew on stage with an energetic and hilarious performance that would have done Bollywood proud!
As Indian-Kiwis they have the opportunity as performers to enjoy the best of both worlds, and have found a way to break barriers between cultures through dance. They are inspired by the idea of bringing East and West together on stage.
50/50 have toured their act around New Zealand, such as the Diwali festivals in Auckland and Wellington, and at International Cultural Day in Hawkes Bay. They have won several regional dance competitions, and worked on a dance documentary with Maori TV, and a special Diwali show on TVNZ.
Mayo is the stage name of 21-year-old hip hop dancer Seantum Rapana from Pukekohe. Mayo has mastered the art of ‘liquid’ dance, and wowed the audience and judges with his skilled solo performance at the auditions, choreographed to music by Twista, David Guetta, and Daft Punk.
Mayo worked until recently at Countdown supermarket in Pukekohe, and is now a dance instructor and choreographer at Groovit dance school, the school where he started his training in 2011. He takes classes of 8-16 year olds, and teaches hip hop, popping and locking and robotics. He has a certification in Maori Performing Arts, and he says he “lives and breathes hip hop dancing”.
Mayo has never competed before, and trained for his NZGT audition for 2-3 hours every day. He’s ready to take his performance to the next level now he’s in the Semi Finals, and will show the judges and audience something completely different. His dream is to dance, teach and choreograph all over the world.
Ravi (Rohinal Narayan) is a 37-year-old from Auckland who works as an IT Project Controller, as well as an actor and stuntman in film and television. He completely stunned the NZGT crowd with his unique and hilarious take on martial arts in a routine choreographed to the ‘Crazy Frog’ song, combining disco with nunchucks!
Ravi is a 4ft.9 inch ball of energy who loves dance. He is a self-taught expert in various genres, including; Bollywood, breakdancing, disco and rock‘n’roll. He is also proficient in Taekwondo and Akido, has recently also taken up Capoeira, and is experienced in stunt fighting with weapons like nunchucks, bow and sword. He says, “I like to keep myself very fit and strongly believe that a healthy body and mind leads to a happy and fulfilling life.”
He has appeared as an extra in numerous TV commercials, worked as a driver on Yogi Bear the feature film, an extra on Spartacus and Shortland Street and had dwarf and goblin extras roles on The Hobbit.
Ravi is married to My Linh, who is Chinese and is his biggest fan. He dreams of throwing away his computer and working full-time as an actor and performer. “My passion is for creative dancing and entertainment, I want to do something that hasn’t been done before.”
This Is Unicycling is the stunt performing duo of Christian Huriwai and Mike Padial, from Kaikohe and Nelson respectively. Christian and Mike are have recently returned from the World Champs in Europe. They had the audience at the Wellington auditions on the edge of their seats as they leaped around a scaffold structure and cycled along narrow beams. Jason Kerrison got such a shock he fell off his chair!
Christian (22) is a two-time Extreme World Champion Unicyclist. He is employed as a community youth worker in Kaikohe, Northland, where he is regarded as a local hero both for his talent and for the unpaid hours he puts into inspiring disadvantaged youth to dream big. 1500 people lined the streets to welcome him, and two other young locals, home in 2012 after they cleaned up at the street division of the World Unicycling Championships in Italy. Chris bought his first unicycle as a bit of a laugh, and is now fearless in the face of all the flips, spins and jumps.
Mike (21) is a former Nelson College student who picked up unicycling six years ago. He says he can clear seven people in a row, jumping off a pole and boxes. “I can also eat with two hands while riding around!” In 2010 he claimed the title of third best unicyclist in the world. Mike works for a unicycle website/shop, which is how he and Chris met, and is passionate about everything to do with the sport. They both have a dedicated daily training regime, and plan on increasing the risk on stage in their Semi Final performance!
All six acts are now all one step closer to claiming the Grand Final prize of $100,000 and a brand-new Toyota RAV4.
To revisit any of these Semi Finalists’ first auditions, visit: www.tvnz.co.nz/new-zealands-got-talent
Then, check out the first Semi Final, on air next Sunday 20 October at 7.30pm on TV ONE