Chelsea Winstanley is a New Zealand film producer. She is notable for the production of What We Do in the Shadows and Jojo Rabbit. Her husband, Taika Waititi, featured and directed both films.
Winstanley is currently estimated to worth $1.5 million. Winstanley’s earnings come from her film making. She announced launching her own production company in January 2020 named This Too Shall Pass. The company is based in Los Angeles and New Zealand.
I know many film lovers do not know about the woman behind Taika Waititi, the famous Oscar Award winner and director of Thor: Karangort. So, pull your seat as I walk you through Chelsea Winstanley’s net worth, age, family life, and production company. Surprisingly, Chelsea Winstanley doesn’t want to be addressed as Taika Waititi’s wife but as a producer.
Chelsea Winstanley was born in 1976 in New Zealand. Winstanley is of Maori descent; her maternal side is Ngati Ranginai and Ngai Te Rangi descent. She was sexually abused at the tender age of about 7. The abuser was someone she knew who she had kept secret. She wouldn’t press charges on the abuser but was able to open up during the #Metoo movement.
Discussing how she managed it, she said, ‘For most of my life, I’ve swept it under the carpet, but it always surfaces. It took away my innocence as a child, without my consent, and I harboured a lot of anger towards that. I’ve been an angry person for most of my life and that’s something I’m working on constantly. But the biggest thing has been not being able to trust, because when you’re a small child you trust everything and everyone so when that trust is taken away, you’re constantly looking behind you, waiting for things to fall to pieces.’
She admitted being angry for years following the incident. It led her to loads of therapy sessions and being at the end of some bad relationships. In an interview, she revealed how angry the abuse made her, ‘I’ve been an angry person for most of my life and that’s something I’m working on constantly. Sometimes I’d just snap… it’s hard to imagine whenever you see me laughing like this. I guess.’
Chelsea Winstanley’s family life
Chelsea Winstanley started her desire to become a creator on her aunt’s typewriter. After her parents divorced, Chelsea remained with her dad John who runs a home improvement business at Tauranga until he remarried. Then she joined her two siblings with her mum, Cherry, a psychotherapist in Auckland. It was during this period; she developed a love for art and photography.
At about 19, she became pregnant, aborted it then became pregnant again for the same man. Before her 21st birthday, she had a baby. Unfortunately, her partner walked out of her three months after the birth of their son Maia. Winstanley’s desire to become a creative expert prompted her to join a friend and attend Waikato University with her son. She was determined to not letting the child prevent her from getting a degree. She developed tough skin by not letting what life throw at her get to her.
During this period, she was involved in a car accident while driving home to her maternal family home. In an interview, she said, ‘I was surprised I was alive when I saw the car. They cut me out, my face was smashed, I broke my leg in three places. My dad came racing into emergency and fell to his knees because I looked like I was dead.’ Winstanley survived the accident, and it took her six months to walk again. In the course of her recovery, Winstanley met Susan Wood. The meeting propelled her pursuit for a Communication degree to Auckland University of Technology. Within this period, Winstanley was able to juggle between motherhood and university education.
After graduation, she was employed by Kiwa Productions. While with the company, she directed the documentary Tame Iti – The Man Behind the Moko, which won Media Peace Award. She also met her film making idol – Merata Mita and Taika Waititi, who later became her husband.
By 2010, Winstanley met Merata Mita. Mita had asked her to produce Saving Grace: Te Whakarauora Tangata, a documentary about child abuse. Unfortunately, Mita had a heart attack on their first meeting and died, leaving Winstanley and her son to produce the documentary after her death. The death of Mita had torn Winstanley. She said, ‘I wish I’d had the guts to say, ‘This isn’t for us to finish,’ but I was young and naïve, so I thought I was doing the right thing. I always regretted it, but made peace with it recently as I’ve helped her son, Heperi, make a film about her. I learned more about her than I ever knew and though she’s not physically in this world, I think about what she would say a lot – especially during Waru.’
Winstanley was instrumental in securing the rights to make a Maori language version of Disney’s Moana.
In 2014, Winstanley produced What We Do in the Shadows with her husband and Jemaine Clement. She also co-produced the film Jojo Rabbit, written and directed by Taika Waititi. The same year, Winstanley won the SPADA Screen Industry Award’s Independent Producer of the Year with her spouse and was named the New Zealand Women in Film and Television’s Mana Wahine recipient at Wairoa’s Maori Film Festival. She also produced 2018, documentary Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen.
Chelsea Winstanley children and spouse
Chelsea Winstanley has three children, a son and two daughters. Maia was born in her early 20s while her two daughters are with Taika Waititi. Winstanley met Taika Waititi in 2010 when she interviewed him in a documentary for the profiling of Maori artists. They reconnected on the set of Boy and two years they got married. Winstanley revealed Waititi was instrumental in helping her trust again. Because of her husband’s role as a director, Winstanley sacrificed her career to take care of their children. Winstanley and Waititi have employed a Maori speaking nanny, they often speak Te Reo at home, and the girls maintain rituals like Karakia before dinner.
Winstanley and Waititi separated secretly in 2018. However, they moved to California, but staying apart involved in their line of jobs placed a strain on their relationship and family bonding.
Chelsea Winstanley production Company
Chelsea Winstanley announced the launch of her own production company in January 2020 named This Too Shall Pass. The company is based in Los Angeles and New Zealand. With the launch of her production company, she aims to write and direct projects that will give a voice to her indigenous stories.