Aidee Walker is both in demand and OnDemand right now. You’ll find her on TVNZ in front of the cameras playing the vulnerable, grieving alcoholic Kate in One Lane Bridge. And behind the scenes she’s also been directing, helming episodes 5-8 of Mystic, the just released on-screen adaptation of Stacy Gregg’s best-selling book series Pony Club Secrets.
Stacy got together with Aidee to talk about her work on the show – and it turned out it wasn’t the first time they had crossed paths.
Stacy: Aidee Walker, we have a weird connectivity you and me.
Aidee: We’re both Waikato girls. You’re Ngaruawahia High School.
Stacy: And you’re Hamilton Girls.
Aidee: And we met doing pilates at the same gym many moons ago.
Stacy: Yeah but I’m referring to the short film you did - Shout At The Ground.
Aidee: Oh that’s so true! I’d forgotten that was you, yes!
Stacy: Joe Lonie, who was in Supergroove, wrote that film about this infamous band tour that him and I were on together. I was a music journalist at the time – and Joe told me your character is based on me.
Aidee: Yes! In fact I think actually my character turned out to be a combination of you and the band’s actual real-life manager Stuart Broughton. Were you smoking back then? Because I remember I smoked constantly in that role.
Stacy: Ummm, let’s say that bit of the character was based on Stuart since I need to be a moral compass for impressionable children.
Aidee: OK, we’ll go with that.
Stacy: You know all about being in a band. You started a band back at Hamilton Girls High school with Anna Coddington.
Aidee: Yeah, we were called Handsome Geoffery.
Stacy: Did you think that was going to be your thing? That you would be a rock star rather than an actor?
Aidee: I did, totally. Haha. Acting was a fun thing I did by myself, but I was pretty serious about the band. Then when I was in my twenties we kind of naturally fell apart. Anna was touring and I was performing more as an actor. We’re still really close though, me and Anna. I’ve made most of her music videos. It’s nice to still have that collaboration.
Stacy: You’re right that acting, unlike being in a band, is an individual pursuit. But being a director, that’s a real team job and you're the captain. When you first stepped up to direct, did that feel daunting?
Aidee: It was pretty accidental. I’d got funding for a short script and didn’t have anyone to direct it.
Stacy: Watching you on set on Mystic I was really impressed with the way you took care of the young actors. You’ve got these kids that are really vulnerable and trying to mask how terrified they are stepping into this adult world where everyone is relying on them.
Aidee: Actually, it’s not just the kids who feel like that. I think all actors are really sensitive beings and they really need feedback. We had four totally green actors on Mystic. It was really only Macey (Macey Chipping who plays Issie) and Jacqui (Jacqueline Joe who plays Caroline) who’d worked in TV before. But they’re all such stars – I mean there’s some amazing talent there and I feel like the show was so beautifully cast.
Stacy: And what about the horses? Had you worked with horses before?
Aidee: No. Never. I’d never even acted in a show with horses – that was why I was keen.
Stacy: You’re having riding lessons at the moment?
Aidee: Yeah, I’ve always loved horses but I was never a horsey girl. I was probably too busy playing hockey.
Stacy: You played at school?
Aidee: Yeah I was super sporty back then. I played hockey for Waikato. I did lots of athletics. But I do love horses – it was the reason why I did the show really. I love working with Greg Smith, the Horse Master on the show – I love his title! If you’re looking for me on set you’ll find me with Greg and the horses. And I just love watching what the horse wrangler girls do – they’re top notch.
Stacy: You’ve wrapped up your episodes for Mystic at last – so what are you working on now?
Aidee: Mystic actually ended up taking up six months of my year because I started in January and finished in June - the work got broken up by Covid. After that I began work on two big Brokenwoods (The Brokenwood Mysteries) – which are effectively (TV) movies.
Stacy: As an actor or as director?
Aidee: I’m directing it this time but I was in the show two years ago. I had an eight week old baby at that time and I can’t remember a lot about the experience except that my breasts were so full of milk and I was constantly looking for a place to express. It was about the time Jacinda went back to work at six weeks so I thought ok, if she can run the country I can do an acting role. Hah.
Stacy: Your baby is two-and-a-half years now?
Aidee: Yeah, her name is Te Awaroa. It means ‘the long river’. We didn’t realise at the time but it’s the name of a stream that ran through Talor’s family property in Kawhia. He’s Tuwharetoa on his Dad’s side and Tainui/ Ngati Mutunga on his Mums.
Stacy: And as a mother, it doesn’t get any easier as they get older, at least not how you expect it to.
Aidee: Yeah, no. And I am really lucky. I have an amazing baby-daddy. He’s really good with our kid and cleaning up and all that, so I can’t really complain but women still juggle the childcare, right? But we honestly couldn't do what we do without incredible supportive grandparents.
Stacy: Talor, your partner, was the art director on One Lane Bridge and so you were all able to be in Queenstown as a family when you got the role of Kate. Would you say you get recognised the most in public for that part now or are you still better known as Draska in Outrageous Fortune?
Aidee: Draska was such a West Auckland thing. Like, even now if I’m at the Countdown checkout in Te Atatu South they talk to me like they know me. With One Lane Bridge, so many people watched that around New Zealand because we were in lockdown, so yeah with that one I guess I get recognised in other places around the country.
Stacy: You wouldn’t want them to recognise you as Kate when you’re at the bottle store though would you?
Aidee: Actually in real life I really don’t drink much – I’m not very good at it. I’m really boring. I just eat chocolate and hang out with my boyfriend in our house in the bush.. But I do still have that drink bottle (the one that Kate in the show keeps filled with vodka). Talor kept that prop and gave it to me wrapped up for Christmas. In fact, it’s still my drink bottle attached to my side. Ha.
Stacy: We should probably talk about fashion, right? Since this is a fashion website after all. I was wondering, have you ever asked to keep the clothes you wear after the shooting wraps?
Aidee: On One Lane Bridge it was Katrina Hodge designing which meant everything was great. Alas, they kept all the costumes but I did get to keep a pair of woollen socks!
Stacy: You’d worked with Katrina before?
Aidee: I met her when I was about 23 on my very first job. Katrina’s great. I’m always the first person to the costume sale at the end of a shoot. In fact most of my wardrobe would come from getting deals in the costume sales from the likes of Katrina Hodge and Sarah Voon. Often they’re cut to fit me – so, yeah, sweet!
Stacy: And if you aren’t shopping out of the wardrobe department? What labels do you gravitate to?
Aidee: I loved Kristine Crabb, and it was bit heartbreaking when she stopped designing. Since having a baby (and even before that) I’m no sample size and I don’t really have a lot of motivation to be a sample size. So with Miss Crabb closing that was a real bummer for girls like me. I also love Emily Miller Sharma (Liam) and Kate Sylvester.
I think the only real treat I have bought since the lockdowns was pyjamas from the General Sleep Store girls. And their socks – I have these socks from General Sleep Store and they are so amazing. Their stuff is all handwoven and I really want to start having less stuff, but better-made stuff. I feel like I want to contribute like that now, but I don’t think that everyone can because shit’s really expensive.
Stacy: What do you wear on set?
Aidee: I know some female directors do dress up a bit and I don’t really understand it because you’re doing long days and you need practical warm clothes. I’ve got these brown Dr. Martens boots. They’re waterproof. They’re my go-to directing shoes. I live in them. I mean for Mystic, I was literally walking through horse shit most days.
This has been a very practically dressed year. In fact I have a couple of dresses I did buy before Covid really hit us and I’m hoping that we aren’t in lockdown so that they have the Women In Film and TV awards and the NZTV Awards because that will literally be the only two times I go out all year.
Stacy: Do you think lockdown’s changed your style?
Aidee: Oh gawd yeah. I just really want to dress comfy. And, really, it’s all about my amazing woollen socks.
WATCH: The trailer for Mystic: