Jennifer Ward-Lealand

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Jennifer Ward-Lealand
Born Jennifer Cecily Ward-Lealand
(1962-11-08) 8 November 1962 (age 54)
Wellington, New Zealand
Occupation Actor
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Michael Hurst (1988–present)
  • Jack Louis Ward Hurst (20)
  • Cameron Lane Ward Hurst (17)
  • Conrad Ainsley Lealand
  • Philippa Mary Ward (76)

Jennifer Cecily Ward-Lealand, ONZM (born 8 November 1962 ), is a New Zealand screen and theatre actress whose screen CV includes starring in 1993 movie Desperate Remedies, and appearances in The Footstep Man, soap Shortland Street and Australian comedy series Full Frontal.


Ward-Lealand was born in Wellington, New Zealand to Philippa "Pippa" Mary (née Ward) and Conrad Ainsley Lealand. She has an older sister, Diana Mary Ward-Pickering and a half brother Simcha Lindt.

On 31 January 1988 she married actor Michael Hurst of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys fame. They have two sons: Jack Louis Ward Hurst, born 25 January 1997, and Cameron Lane Ward Hurst, born 2 December 1999.

Her first ongoing television role was as Jan in Close to Home (1978–1980). After leaving school she spent a year touring New Zealand in a community theatre group, performing clown shows and Chekhov.

In 1982 Ward-Lealand completed a year-long diploma in acting from Auckland's then influential Theatre Corporate. In between the theatre work that followed, Ward-Lealand appeared in short-lived TV drama Seekers, before her breakthrough television role in "Danny and Raewyn", an episode from the About Face series. Filmed largely in an Auckland flat so cramped the cameraman sometimes had to sit on the stove, this tale of working class relationship breakdown would win Ward-Lealand a GOFTA Best Actress Award.

The same year Ward-Lealand made her big screen debut as nightclub singer Costello – and sang three songs – in Wellington crime thriller Dangerous Orphans.

From 1989–1990 she appeared with Harry Sinclair and Don McGlashan in theatre/musical group The Front Lawn, winning a number of awards and accolades, and acting in Front Lawn film Linda's Body.

As an actress, singer and director of theatre, Ward-Lealand has amassed an impressive number of credits and accolades, and acted in New Zealand plays The Bach, Via Satellite, and The Sex Fiend. In 2007, she toured her acclaimed Marlene Dietrich cabaret show, Falling in Love Again (also the name of her first solo CD) in New Zealand and Australia.


Her contribution to New Zealand theatre was recognised in 2007 New Year Honours with her investiture as officer to the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).


  • Ward, R. G. (2000). Gentleman Charlie and the settlers: a study of transformation. Hutt City N.Z: Break Even Press. ISBN 0-473-06809-5. 

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