We’re celebrating 10 years of Audio Description in Aotearoa, and taking you behind-the-screens to meet our incredible team of Audio Describers. Introducing Lee Smith-Gibbons!

Most random or surprising job? The funnest job I had was playing Fred Haise the US astronaut in the interactive theatre show, Apollo 13: Mission Control. I wore a fake moustache and got to perform in the Sydney Opera House.

Favourite movie? Peerless and perfect: The Princess Bride.

Marmite or vegemite? Vegemite all the way, son.

Songs that make you dance, or songs that make you cry? Bruce Springsteen’s Cover Me will ALWAYS get me dancing. Andy by the Muttonbirds is so beautiful and sad, I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. Joan Jett’s Crimson and Clover was an excellent walking down the aisle song at our Las Vegas wedding.

Most memorable audio describing moment? I have had to describe two ex-boyfriends in intimate love scenes (not with each other). I’ve also had to describe myself in the telefeature Bliss, but my character had a posh voice, so I don’t think it would have been too confusing for the AD user!

Tell us about your work as an audio describer. What’s it all about, and how did it begin for you? After a few years acting in bits and pieces and taking the oddest of odd jobs to support that, I was looking for something more substantial. I was thrilled to discover a job listing where my Performing Arts degree (wholly useless for many jobs) was actually helpful! Knowing not much about it, I went through the interview process, and by the time I got the job offer I was absolutely gunning for the position – a creative job providing an accessible service? Yes please!

How did you find your creative niche? Having wanted to act since I was a kid, and then studying acting at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, I was set on that path, but over the years I have found myself writing more and more. As well as audio description, my writing includes fiction, screenwriting and theatrical adaptations.

What do you think about the media accessibility landscape in Aotearoa? I am so pleased to see it growing, but until everything is accessible, our mahi is never done!

Greatest creative achievement so far? Staging a three-person play of the Jeff Goldblum movie The Fly, in our lounge with homemade props, was a real highlight, and led on to comedy theatrical adaptations of MiseryThe Exorcist and Stranger Things: Season 1. Very fun. Very silly.

One thing we should know about you? I love Steve Martin and swimming pools.

Next in the journal:

Text reads The Fold: Wendy Youens wants to make NZ's media accessible to all

The Fold: Duncan Greive & Wendy Youens

In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Duncan Grieve interviewed Wendy Youens, our Chief Executive (CE), on The…

A picture of Lily McManus who has long brown hair, tanned skin, and wears a tank top.

Universal Design for Social Media: 3 ways to make your content more accessible

To ensure that you're welcoming everyone to access your content, here are some easy things you can do…

Decorative image

Dreaming of a fully inclusive society: From rugby to parenting to CEO in a wheelchair

“From playing sport to figuring out parenting in a wheelchair, “challenges come in various forms” when you’re disabled.”…

Dan Buckingham has brown hair and eyes, and a friendly smile. He sits against a purple background.

Introducing Able’s next Chief Executive

A change in leadership is coming up at Able. In May, the team will farewell CE Wendy Youens…

Advocacy & Captions: Nancy’s Story

"While living in northern Queensland with just my 8-year-old daughter, there was a cyclone approaching and normal TV…

A headshot of Pauline, a young woman with blonde hair

Pauline’s Story

"I hope that big powers keep learning from disabled people and prioritising us. I hope they see that…