With an acting career verging on five decades, Catherine Wilkin is a widely admired, indefatigable force on stage and screen.
Catherine was born and raised in Christchurch and started her acting career at the University of Canterbury Drama Society. Committed to becoming a professional, she trained at Auckland’s legendary Mercury Theatre and worked at Downstage and the Court Theatre before heading to Australia in the mid-seventies. From Ophelia for the Melbourne Theatre Company to Liz Ryan in McLeod’s Daughters and much more, she built a remarkable career, moving easily between stage and screen roles on both sides of the Tasman.
She played the recurring role lawyer Kate McGrath in Cop Shop in 1981. In 1983 she played Janice Young in Prisoner. Other roles included Pauline Grey in Rafferty's Rules, Katherine Jensen in Embassy, Sally Downie in Blue Heelers and Liz Ryan in McLeod's Daughters. Catherine also starred in the Saddle Club as the well-loved Mrs. Reg, the mother of the owner of the stable, in 2001.
She has appeared extensively on stage: for The Melbourne Theatre Company, Auckland Theatre Company, Downstage Theatre, in parts ranging from Ophelia to Hedda Gabler. Highlights include Linda in Death of a Salesman and Kitty/Joyce in Roger Hall’s Last Legs and Joy/Corrie on As The Day Draws In.
After McLeod’s Daughters wrapped in 2008 she returned to New Zealand to live and has continued to find new opportunities and challenges in theatre, television and film, including a role in Brokenwood Mysteries and her first-ever soap character, Jean King in Shortland Street. Catherine has also completed two seasons playing Hilary in Under The Vines.
In 1987 she was an Australian Film Institute nominee for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini Series. A Most Outstanding Actress Logie in 1988 for Rafferty’s Rules was a major recognition of her work. In the 1996 TV Guide New Zealand Film and Television Awards she won Best Supporting Actress for Margaret for Swimming Lessons. And for New Zealand feature film Weight of Elephants Catherine received a Best Supporting Actress nomination in the 2013 New Zealand Film and TV Awards.
“They say actors don't retire, they just die. It's good for anyone of any age – but especially as you are getting older – to have projects.”, Catherine told Kerry Harvey in an interview for Stuff. “There's nothing more stimulating than creating a character.That's why actors endure all the highs and lows of being in this business. If you have something that's challenging and rewarding, then there's nothing like it really. I think it's good for your mind and good for your body to do that.”