Libby’s courage takes her through to the finals

Courageous young Whanganui actor Libby Hunsdale has reached the finals of this year’s Attitude Awards. The star of the new feature film Poppy has been named one of the finalists in the Attitude Youth Courage Award.

The award is for a young person with a disability whose courage and determination demonstrates the power of the human spirit, and the quest of young people with disabilities to lead full lives.

Libby, 18, has Down syndrome and was born with a learning disability. She attends Whanganui Girls’ College where she has a long and proud list of awards won for her achievements and leadership. Libby is one of very few ORS-funded students to have gained NCEA Levels 1 and 2, including literacy and numeracy. She is now planning to try for Level 3 to gain access to university.

Libby has overcome great grief and loss. Her mother developed brain cancer and died in 2015, only a year after Libby’s stepfather died of a heart attack. Libby’s maternal grandparents became her carers on her mother’s death and her grandfather, Ormie Andrews, shared his love of theatre and acting. Her grandfather died in 2018 and she feels his loss deeply. His example gave her the courage to audition for Poppy and she won the lead role over a large field of candidates.

Poppy producer Robin Laing says Libby showed incredible courage in taking on the role. “We know Libby embodies the spirit of this award. Her courage has been shown in her overcoming personal loss and throwing herself into auditioning for, and successfully gaining, the role of Poppy. She not only brought her talent and courage to the set every day, she came back from the lockdown hiatus to the final week of the shoot more prepared and confident than ever,” Robin says.

The Attitude Awards are a nationally televised event celebrating the achievements and successes of New Zealanders living with disabilities. Libby was nominated by IHC.

The 2020 black-tie event will be held on 2 December in Auckland, to recognise people from the sector, including employers, employees and entrepreneurs, as well as, athletes, young people, and game-changers in the sector.

Poppy, produced by Robin Laing and Alex Cole-Baker, is the debut feature for Raumati writer-director Linda Niccol and is based on her short story Poppy. The film is scheduled for release towards the end of the year.

Photo caption: Libby Hunsdale during filming of Poppy. Photograph: Ness Patea.