University of Auckland student and up-and-coming actor Iana Grace is the Next Big Thing in Kiwi theatre! Only twenty-one years old and already a veteran of the stage, Iana is currently involved in Auckland Theatre Company’s (ATC) annual youth festival, Next Big Thing (NBT) 2016.
Iana identifies as feminine non-binary agender and says that the way that they identify has definitely affected their writing and content. Earlier this year, they wrote a play called “The Pronoun Game” as part of the Legacy Project, which centered around themes of binaries and the difficulties faced by agender individuals.
They say that agender people in New Zealand face a range of issues, one of which is invalidation. “I remember panicking and thinking maybe I should cut my hair or dress completely differently just so people would find it easier to identify me and stop mis-gendering me, but in the end I know who I am and no one can take that away from me.”
Iana says that they “feel like NBT, and ATC by extension, have always accepted queer/LGBTQIA+ youth and aim to make their stories and voices heard.”
See Iana and more fresh-faced thespians in ATC’s Next Big Thing from Friday 15 to Saturday 30 July at Basement Theatre.
Photographed by Jessie Rolton.