Roseanne Liang


NameRoseanne Liang (she/her)
Country of BirthAotearoa
EthnicitiesHong Kong Chinese
Decades Active2000s, 2010s, 2020s


Roseanne Liang is a first-generation Chinese New Zealand screenwriter and director, and a leading Asian creative in the Aotearoa film and television industry. Her career, spanning award-winning documentaries and short films through to popular TV series and feature films, has seen her rise from independent and state-funded productions to film and TV projects backed by Hollywood studios.

Liang’s upbringing, emergence as a filmmaker and exploration of Asian identity provided the subject for her first feature film, the self-funded, autobiographical Banana in a Nutshell (2005). Centred on her relationship with her traditional Chinese parents and their threats of disownment following her engagement to her Pākehā boyfriend, Liang would later get the opportunity to adapt the documentary’s events into a narrative feature film, My Wedding and Other Secrets (2011), which was funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air.

Banana in a Nutshell catalysed Liang’s commitment to Asian representation on screen. “I’m starting to realise that the representation of Asian groups in New Zealand is becoming important to me as a filmmaker and artist,” she revealed in an interview for The Press at the time of the documentary’s release. “Especially as I watch TV and get really angry at the mainstream representation of Asians.” In 2008 she would contribute as a writer, director and actor to A Thousand Apologies, the first pan-Asian TV series produced in Aotearoa, and ten years later would co-found the Pan-Asian Screen Collective with creator Shuchi Kothari alongside Selina Joe and Gilbert Wong.

Liang would follow Banana in a Nutshell with Take 3 (2007), a scathingly funny short film about three Asian actresses who bond after competing in an audition where they are each asked to play racist character stereotypes; and as a continuation of these themes, the hit crowdfunded web series Flat3 (2013–14) and Friday Night Bites (2016–18), also centred on a trio of Chinese New Zealand actresses-cum-flatmates. The stars of these series, Perlina Lau, JJ Fong and Ally Xue, returned as the leads in Liang’s dystopian comedy Creamerie (2021–23), which premiered on TVNZ and streamed internationally on Hulu, drawing acclaim from the likes of IndieWire and The New York Times.

Liang’s elevation to bigger budget projects has coincided with gender parity movements within the industry — she was named in 2018 by The Alice Initiative as one of “20 female directors who are primed for a studio directing gig” — but also comes off the back of a personal drive to make genre films, specifically the type and scale of films that women are seldom the first choice to direct. Action is “in my blood” she told Film School Rejects in a 2021 interview, adding that the genre is also intrinsically linked to her Chinese heritage:

I can’t shed who I am or all the experiences that I’ve grown up with, I can’t shed my cultural influences. I can’t shed the fact that I was going to American movies and then coming home and watching Hong Kong martial arts movies on VHS. Those are the movies that make up my cultural DNA.

Liang’s multi-award-winning Do No Harm (2017), a short film she has openly described as a “proof of concept” for an action feature film, was instrumental in her being hired to direct Shadow in the Cloud (2020), a U.S.-funded, Aotearoa-shot action-horror-war vehicle starring Chloë Grace Moretz. Do No Harm is also being developed into a big budget feature film. Meanwhile, set for release in 2024, the Netflix original Avatar: The Last Airbender will feature Liang as a series co-executive producer and director of the fifth and sixth episodes of season one.


Key works / presentations

As writer/director:

2021–23 — Creamerie, TV series
2020 — Shadow in the Cloud, feature film
2016–18 — Friday Night Bites, web series
2017 — Do No Harm, short film
2013–14 — Flat 3, web series
2011 — My Wedding and Other Secrets, feature film
2008 — Take 3, short film
2005 — Banana in a Nutshell, documentary

As director:

2021–23 — Avatar: The Last Airbender, TV series, Netflix, two episodes (also co-executive producer)

Key awards

2021 — New Zealand Television Awards: Best Drama Series (Creamerie)

2020 — Toronto International Film Festival: People’s Choice Award – Midnight Madness Section (Shadow in the Cloud)

2017 — Florida Film Festival: Audience Award – Best Midnight Short Film (Do No Harm)

2017 — New Zealand International Film Festival: New Zealand's Best — Audience Award (Do No Harm)

2017 — Aotearoa Film and Television Awards: Best Screenplay – Feature Film (My Wedding and Other Secrets, with Angeline Loo)

2006 — DOCNZ International Documentary Film Festival: Best Documentary (Banana in a Nutshell)

2006 — Asia NZ Film Festival: Best Director (Banana in a Nutshell)

2005 — SPADA Screen Industry Awards: New Filmmaker of the Year

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Last updated: 3 March 2024 Suggest an Edit