Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand
Jennifer is a founding member of Intimacy Coordinators Aotearoa.
She is one of the first fully accredited intimacy coordinators in Aotearoa beginning her training with Ita O’Brien (Intimacy on Set, UK) in 2018.
As President of Equity New Zealand, she co-authored the Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen in NZ. Jennifer is a founding member of Intimacy Tāmaki which was established in 2019 to continue professional development in stage and screen intimacy work.
Jennifer has taught workshops on intimacy for Toi Whakaari (NZ Drama School) The Directors and Editors Guild of NZ, Te Pou theatre, The Actors’ Program, Pan-Asian Screen Collective, Proudly Asian Theatre, Covert Theatre, South Seas Film and TV School, Howick Little Theatre, Catch Casting, Auckland University School of Music and The Equity Foundation. She regularly gives seminars at the SWAG/Screensafe Professional Respect Training workshops and other events.
Her screen credits include TV series, The Wilds (Disney); Creamerie; Heaven and Hell – the Centrepoint Story (Warners); Ahikāroa series 3 & 4; One of Us is Lying (NBC/Universal), Don’t Make Me Go (Amazon) and numerous short films and web series. Her stage credits include Six Degrees of Separation and Grand Horizons (Auckland Theatre Company); Provocation (Te Koru) and Handel’s Semele and The Marriage of Figaro (NZ Opera).
Jennifer is also an experienced actor of 40 years, training at Theatre Corporate, and a director and teacher of 20 years. In 2018 she was named SPADA Industry Champion and in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List, she was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to theatre, film and television and presented with a Woman of Influence Award (for arts and culture). Jennifer was named as the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year 2020.
Jennifer holds current certificates in Screensafe/SWAG Professional Respect training for the Screen Industry, a Safeguarding Children Certificate, and St Johns Mental Health First Aid and First Aid Level 1 & 2 Certificates.
“Jennifer was engaged as our intimacy coordinator for series 1 of Creamerie, and I cannot speak highly enough of the role she played in our production. We needed someone who was going to come at it from a professional and creative angle, someone who could be there for the actors, while still understanding the creative and schedule outcomes required, and that is exactly what we got with Jennifer. She is brilliant to work with and actors feel looked after and no longer just want to get those scenes over with. This makes for a smooth and efficient process. I couldn’t recommend Jennifer highly enough.”
BRONWYNN BAKKER (PRODUCER, CREAMERIE)
“This was my first film I produced alongside a plethora of highly respected and experienced HODS, including Jennifer as our Intimacy Coordinator and she was the first person I thought of to fulfil this role. As a newer producer I needed trust with my HODS, and Jennifer went above and beyond that trust for me. She really cared about the production and how to make it work for the actors and director. I’ve also known and worked with Jennifer as an actor for around 8 years and she is such a consummate professional in this field. I feel like actors truly trust her as she has been in their shoes and what a difference it makes when actors trust their team around them to give the best performance on screen. What a privilege it is for me to work with Jennifer, a kind, empathetic, lovely talented professional!”
JJ FONG (ACTOR, CREAMERIE AND PRODUCER, PRINCESS OF CHAOS)
“I just wanted to thank you for all your help with working with X and X. Your gentle and guiding wisdom really helped set a calm yet productive tone on the set. I am so grateful to have you be a part of our show. Your constant professionalism, grace and sensitivity with our actors helps make our shoot days run smoothly.”
JOHN SCOTT (PRODUCER/DIRECTOR ONE OF US IS LYING)
“Having Jennifer on board as our Intimacy Co-ordinator was a crucial part of this as she delicately and professionally helped both the cast and crew navigate challenging scenes (physically and emotionally). Her work with both the adult and child actors was a wondrous thing to observe. Her communication between the actors, the extras, the guardians on set and the Director helped everyone feel safe, confident and comfortable – and ultimately able to deliver powerful performances. Loved having her a part of our production.”
NATALIE MALCON (PRODUCER, HEAVEN AND HELL: THE CENTREPOINT STORY)
“I am so thrilled with the incredible intimacy coordinating work Jennifer did with the actors in my web series, Sui Generis. We had difficult scenes to choreograph and she made the entire process extremely easy, seamlessly crafting beautiful scenes that look amazing on screen. The actors felt relaxed and reassured and I was happy everyone was safe. The results go beyond any expectation and I am extremely thankful for her work as an Intimacy Coordinator – this show wouldn’t have happened without her incredible generosity and talent.”
ROBERTO NASCIMENTO (PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR, SUI GENERIS)
“Jennifer’s command of respect, compassion and strength on set as an Intimacy Coordinator makes any actor working with her feel safe and protected. Her expertise is enhanced by her sensitivity as a legendary actor, and clarity as a director. Jennifer’s signature stamp is her encouragement, enthusiasm and creative support for the actor in every beat of the scene.”
XANA TANG (ACTOR, PRINCESS OF CHAOS)
“Working on Taumanu with Jennifer Ward-Lealand, was my first ever experience with an Intimacy Coordinator. It was brilliant to be able to collaborate with such a talented, experienced professional. Jennifer commands immediate respect and communicates with a direct, clear and empathetic voice. Having the support of an IC like Te Atamira when you’re trying to craft and direct emotionally and physically intimate scenes is absolutely invaluable.”
TARATOA STAPPARD (DIRECTOR, TAUMANU)
“When I started out as a young actress, there were no intimacy coordinators which made intimate scenes feel like an unnatural thing to navigate. I’m incredibly grateful to have someone like Jennifer whose purpose on set is to help us explore such scenes so the actors aren’t left feeling vulnerable and unsure. Jennifer’s passion, care and creativity makes us actors feel safe, confident and ready to take on any scene!”
FRANKIE ADAMS (ACTOR, PANTHERS)
“Having an intimacy co-ordinator on our project was incredibly valuable. I had never directed a project that involved such a high level of intimacy before and Jennifer was incredibly generous with her time and her patience. Being able to work from the ground up with her in establishing what was needed from a dramatic and emotional perspective as well as from a technical filmmaking perspective was crucial in realising the vision of the intimacy in our film.. Our actors found the rehearsal process particularly helpful in establishing the choreography of the intimacy, and meant that they felt secure enough to be able to focus on the finer emotional details of the intimate scenes. They felt safe and confident and I don’t know that we would have been able to achieve what we did had we not had an intimacy co-ordinator with us every step of the way.”
JESSE UNG (DIRECTOR FIRSTS)
“I was particularly impressed with Jennifer Ward-Lealand’s intimacy coaching on my recent production for Auckland Theatre Company. The scenes involved male to male sex and nudity and Jennifer brought the actors to the point they needed to be in the story in a calm, matter of fact, caring way so they felt safe and not threatened.”
COLIN MCCOLL (DIRECTOR, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION)
“Thanks so much for your awesome mahi and for taking care of our cast so well.It’s hard to imagine that we used to do scenes like this without an IC! It’s so great for young newbie actors to have such a positive experience with intimate scenes so early in their careers. So glad to have you as part of the SIS whānau.”
KARIN WILLIAMS (PRODUCER, SIS)
“Jennifer came on as our IC for a short film I had written and acted in. It was a small but specific scene where myself and my scene partner battled with insecurities about culture and connection. Jennifer really understood the complexities of the scene and everything that was required for us performers. She made us actors feel comfortable and most importantly, safe on set. I also think the way she navigated the cultural aspects was very respectful to which I am very grateful for. IC’s are extremely necessary in filmmaking and I am very lucky to have had her on our Lea Tupu’anga/ Mother Tongue team.”
LUCIANE BUCHANAN (ACTOR AND WRITER – LEA TUPU’ANGA/ MOTHER TONGUE SHORT FILM)
“Until working with Jennifer, I had never worked with an intimacy coordinator before. However after working with an intimacy coordinator I wish that this kind of service was around a long time ago. The whole experience just felt so safe, comfortable and NOT AWKWARD! The way in which Jennifer broke down our intimacy scene was almost the same way in which you would break down a fight sequence or a choreographed dance piece. Which allowed us to be able to go through the intimate moments without sacrificing the script or vice versa. I think as actors this work is incredibly important and I’d like to thank Jennifer aswell as other intimacy coordinators just like her. Thank you!”
DOM ONA-ARIKI (ACTOR – TEINE SĀ)
“When I worked alongside Jennifer on Creamerie I was six weeks postpartum and as you can imagine I was feeling nervous, uncomfortable and really not looking forward to doing an intimate scene at all. Jennifer created such a professional and safe space in rehearsal and on set that those feelings quickly disappeared. She helped us choreograph the scene (just like a stunt coordinator would with a stunt) so we as actors could completely focus on the storytelling. Not only did she work with us but she worked alongside the director and crew to ensure we were on the same page. I absolutely loved working with Jennifer so much that I rang my agent straight after and told her that I will never not work with an intimacy coach in the future.”
KEPORAH TORRANCE (ACTOR, CREAMERIE)
“Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand has undertaken the Intimacy Coordinator role on the last two seasons of Māori drama series, Ahikāroa. Her professional empathetic approach, underpinned by 40+ years experience across acting and director roles in film, television and theatre makes her a natural for this mahi, not only in working with actors but also ensuring the scenes honour the integrity of the script. Sha has consistently managed to achieve excellence in both respects. What sets Jennifer apart for Kura Productions in the IC space is her fluency in te reo Māori me ōna tikanga. She is able to approach our largely Māori cast with a thorough and deep knowledge of te reo and tikanga, an absolute priority for us in the production of this series. Mō tēnei mahi, kāore he painga i a Jennifer. “
VIV WIGBY-NGĀTAI (PRODUCER AHIKĀROA)
Working with Jennifer on The Pathers was my first experience preparing for a physically intimate scene with the guidance of an intimacy coach. As a practitioner Jennifer brings not only acute skill but also wonderful kaupapa. She made us feel completely comfortable inside of the process, and took all of the trademark cringe that comes with rehearsing and performing these scenes out of the equation. This meant that we were able to focus on the storytelling required. When we came to shoot the scene on the day we felt fully prepared, supported and in control – and the scene was so much better for it. As an actress, I am relieved this work is becoming standard practice, and grateful Jennifer is leading the way.
CHELSIE PRESTON CRAYFORD (ACTOR, THE PANTHERS)
“The day we spent with Jennifer was essential professional development for the whole kura. Jennifer’s clear, kind and uplifting approach made the work accessible for all, and empowering for all – no one was left behind. The specific processes and structures Jennifer laid down are now creating freedom for all of us. And perhaps a reflection of how empowered we feel … We have immediately applied Jennifer’s training to our teaching and project practices.. There is much work to do and as a department we are inspired and committed to following, growing and advocating for best practice in intimacy practices and protocols.”
HEATHER TIMMS (DIRECTOR OF ACTOR TRAINING. TOI WHAKAARI NZ DRAMA SCHOOL)
“The autonomy, clarity and dignity that Jennifer led the workshop with, meant that the validity of this work strengthened my prospect of what an industry of change can be – a culture of cooperation and collaboration that can always be more safe, open and clear.”
FIRST YEAR ACTING STUDENT (TOI WHAKAARI NZ DRAMA SCHOOL)
“How much autonomy, self respect and communal support would have benefited past students? All I can hope and believe is that this mahi is streamlined as a cornerstone of not only our respective interdisciplinary practice, but is implemented within the bedrock of our humanity. Jennifer’s workshop has had an immense positive impact on the way I approach any work. Understanding the layers of intimacy. As a writer and training producer I now have the pragmatic tools to administer them within the context of working on film, theatre etc.”
SECOND YEAR ACTING STUDENT (TOI WHAKAARI; NZ DRAMA SCHOOL)
“Jennifer’s presentations are always flawless, engaging and are often the most well received part of the workshop. She clearly describes the work of the Intimacy Coordinator, outlines the touch-consent process and clearly articulates the benefit of Intimacy Coordinators and guidelines for the production and crew. I believe it is Jennifer’s passionate portrayal of the role of Intimacy Coordinator that is the reason that each workshop a significant number of participants make a commitment to using Intimacy Coordinators and Intimacy Guidelines in their work going forward. Furthermore, as a person who has worked in the sexual and domestic violence fields for over 20 years, I would like to acknowledge Jennifer’s survivor-safe language and advocacy for trauma-informed workplaces for all crew. I believe her caring survivor-focused approach has made a significant difference to many people in our workshops and in the wider screen and stage sectors”.
RACHEL HARRISON (SEXUAL VIOLENCE PREVENTION SPECIALIST)
“Jennifer brings incredible energy, knowledge, and expertise in the role of the Intimacy Coordinator to the ScreenSafe/SWAG Professional Respect Workshop. Jennifer has been delivering the Intimacy Coordinator talks to the workshops over the past year, and it is always a highlight for everyone attending the workshop. Jennifer’s enthusiasm for the Intimacy Coordinator work is infectious, and it always leads to an engaging discussion with the participants. The talk is an essential part of the workshop and ties in with the Intimacy Guidelines in our workshop packs. We are fortunate to have Jennifer available to bring light and understanding of this essential role and support our work on ensuring we have safe sets for everyone in the screen sector.”
KELLY LUCAS (SCREENSAFE/SWAG PROFESSIONAL RESPECT WORKSHOP COORDINATOR)
“Kei te mihi maioha ki a koe. Thank you so much for spending time with our kura e te tau. I appreciate it so very much. The way in which you work with students and staff is empowering. And you have passed this practical, deeply empowering knowledge on to our staff and students. It has made such a positive impact, we will ask you to return next year to work with the next (and subsequent) cohorts of students. Intimacy training is an important component of the toolkit for all practitioners working across the sector. And I mihi to you e mara for the mahi you are doing.”
TANEA HEKE (TUMUAKI / DIRECTOR, TOI WHAKAARI: NZ DRAMA SCHOOL)
“Jennifer Ward-Lealand ran a full day Intimacy Workshop at Toi Whakaari with the entire school body in early 2021. This involved all departments, tutors and students from Acting, Design, Costume, Set & Props & Management. This work is incredible – clear, easeful, practical tools and techniques that keep everyone safe inside artistic practice that involves intimacy. The workshop left our Acting students feeling uplifted and empowered, the fear of intimate work had been demystified and the work itself clarified. The strong boundaries and communication tools in this work serve the artistry – it does not hamper the work at all, but rather gives great freedom and joy. Jennifer held a room with over 100 students and tutors with ease and lightness, whilst making the processes, guidelines and methodologies crystal clear. We are committed to continuing this work across the training programs at Toi Whakaari, as it is critical to growing healthy practice inside a healthy industry, and empowering our young artists.”
ANYA TATE-MANNING (TUTOR OF CRAFT AND CREATIVE PRACTICE, ACTING DEPARTMENT TE KURA TOI WHAKAARI O AOTEAROA)