Kerry Warkia is the creator of Nia's Extra Ordinary Life, and today, she's the subject of our creator interview!
bPOP: Where did you get the idea for Nia's Extra Ordinary Life?
Kerry: I guess I started thinking about it when I was watching my children play one day and they were putting on American and British accents. I suddenly thought, they aren't watching any New Zealand children's TV content (for their age group), where they can hear and see themselves on screen, and that's because we don't really have any. Then I started thinking back to my own childhood in Papua New Guinea and what I loved to watch as a kid and also what I loved to do as a kid. Shows I loved were Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie. And I loved being outdoors, climbing trees, eating fruit, drawing and writing. So I started to imagine this little girl, who loved to sit in her plum tree with her diary. My husband (who Directed the show and who I work with a lot) came up with her name, Nia. And the story grew from there :).
bPOP: Did you make movies when you were a kid? If so, what were they about?
Kerry: I actually didn't make movies as a kid because we didn't have a video camera. But my sisters and friends and I loved to dance and act. We would put on plays and dance shows all the time. My own children however love to make movies. They took part in the NZ 48 Hour Film Competition this year and made a movie called BALLS!
bPOP: How did you find the cast for Nia's Extra Ordinary Life?
Kerry: Actually I saw Shania Gilmour (who plays Nia) playing on the beach with her family when I visited Tinopai looking for locations to shoot in. She instantly stood out to me as someone who could play Nia and she looked perfect for the role. I spoke with her grandfather there and then her mother over the phone. I went up to visit Shania and talked to her about the show and what it would be like to be the lead and be on set. She was very excited and had a lovely quiet confidence. So I cast here then and there. Then Shania & her mother actually helped to cast her friend Jessica, who played Hazel. We needed the girls to be able to bond quickly so thought it would be a great idea to ask Shania if she had a friend that she thought would be a good Hazel and she suggested Jessica. Angus (who plays Joshua) was cast when I went to run a webseries workshop in Rawene, which is further north than Tinopai from Auckland. I was talking about Nia's Extra Ordinary Life during the workshop and one of the women got out her phone called her friend and said, "Bring the children around so Kerry can see them and talk to them." Haha and that's how I cast the roles of Joshua and Ariana. And we used children from the crew as well, including our own 3 kids :)
We held no auditions, we just had conversations with the kids. It worked well for this show.
bPOP: What was your favorite part of working with them?
Kerry: They were all so natural and open to ideas, each others and the Directors. They just wanted to have lots of fun and do their best, which they did! We kept the set and the crew small and relaxed and parents and other siblings were welcome to be on set and watch if the actors wanted them there. It's the most relaxed set I've ever been on and I loved that the kids all just hung out together and played when they were not required to act.
bPOP: What is the funniest thing that happened on set?
Kerry: Probably the funniest thing was trying to break down the sand castle with waves in episode 2. Tom, who did art department, did such a good job of building it that we had to create lots of fake waves using buckets and boards to get it to break down for our shot. The kids thought that was pretty funny.
bPOP: What advice would you give to kids who think their lives are extra ordinary?
Kerry: Hmm, I guess every now and then we all think that our lives are a bit extra ordinary and that nothing exciting ever happens to us. But I think that a special kind of magic is in all the things around us. I've always liked this quote:
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
bPOP: If you were a super hero, who (or what) would your sidekick be?
Kerry: If I were a Superhero I would want my 3 children Api, Kiki & Noah as my sidekicks! Because they always make everything better and they are super fun to hang out with :)!
bPOP: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Kerry: An actress. When I was 7 years old I watched Les Miserables for the first time at the West End in London with my family. My mother's cousin was a theatre director in London at the time and manged to get us seats in a box. The box was to the left of the stage, I had never seen anything like it in my life, it was magical. I hung over the balcony in awe, loving every moment of the show. I clapped after every song and even in between songs that I thought deserved special attention (ha, probably very annoying for the poor actors) and at the end of the show when the cast came out, they turned to me and gave me my own special bow - the rest of the audience laughed of course as I stood up and clapped my little heart out for the actors, smiling from ear to ear. I was hooked. We went to a show every single night that we were in London. Getting dressed up in warm jackets and riding the London Underground off to see amazing shows in amazing venues are some of my very precious childhood memories.
bPOP: If you could put one thing in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years, what would you pick?
Kerry: Hmm, that's a really tough question. I think I would write a book full of all the crazy adventures that my children have and put funny photos of them in there too and put that in the time capsule.... Then I'd leave a treasure map for all my grandchildren so they can find the capsule and read about their wonderful crazy parents. Hopefully it will make them laugh :).
Thank you so much to Kerry for answering all our questions! Be sure to check out Nia's Extra Ordinary Life HERE on batteryPOP!