Taika Waititi Biography

Taika Waititi is a highly acclaimed New Zealand writer, director, producer, and actor. He gained widespread recognition after winning an Academy Award for adapting the screenplay of the film Jojo Rabbit. Born in Raukokore, Taika’s passion for art and acting was nurtured by his mother following his parents’ divorce. He honed his skills in high school and joined comedy troupes, eventually venturing into filmmaking during his time at Victoria University of Wellington. Taika’s career took off with his short film Two Cars, One Night, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He then made his mark in the industry with feature films like Boy and What We Do in the Shadows, garnering both critical acclaim and commercial success. However, it was his directorial role in the immensely successful Thor: Ragnarok that propelled his career to new heights. Taika continued to impress with his critically acclaimed film Jojo Rabbit, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Alongside his writing and directing endeavors, Taika has also showcased his acting skills in his own films and other notable works. Notably, he has also made his mark as a director in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Taika David Cohen
  • Age: 48 Years, 48 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Chelsea Winstanley (m. 2011–2018)
    • Father: Taika
    • Mother: Robin Cohen
    • Children: Matewa Kiritapu, Te Hinekāhu
    • Partner: Loren Horsley, Rita Ora
  • Born Country: New Zealand
  • Quotes By Taika Waititi
  • Comedians
  • Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), 6’0″ Males
  • Ancestry: Russian New Zealander, Irish New Zealander, French New Zealander, Canadian New Zealander
  • More Facts
  • Education: Victoria University Of Wellington

Childhood & Early Life

Taika Waititi, originally named Taika David Cohen, was born on August 16, 1975, in Raukokore, New Zealand. His parents, Taika and Robin Waiti, had a mixed Jewish and Maori background. Despite this, Taika did not grow up with any religious beliefs. When he was just 5 years old, his parents divorced and he was primarily raised by his mother in the East Coast and Wellington. They faced financial struggles, with his mother working three jobs to make ends meet.

Passion for Acting

During high school, Taika initially wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a painter. However, after joining theatrical productions, he discovered a love for acting. He became involved in theatrical plays and after graduating from Victoria University of Wellington with a degree in fine arts, he joined a comedy troupe that performed around the country. It was during this time that he also developed a strong desire to become a director.


Taika’s career began with his involvement in comedy groups such as So You’re a Man and The Humourbeats. He gained recognition for his performances on stage and received the Billy T Award in 1999, New Zealand’s top comedy award. In the early 2000s, he started making comedy short films, including “Two Cars, One Night,” which received an Academy Award nomination.

In 2007, Taika released his debut feature film as a writer and director, “Eagle vs Shark,” a romantic comedy. Although it received a positive response at the Sundance Film Festival, it did not perform well commercially. He also directed episodes of the American sitcom “Flight of the Conchords” in the same year.

His next film, “Boy,” a comedy-drama set in the 1980s, became a massive success in 2010. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. Taika not only wrote and directed the film but also played a key role as the father of the main character.

Taika continued to work on various projects, including appearing in the DC superhero film “Green Lantern” in 2011. In 2014, he co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the mockumentary horror comedy film “What We Do in the Shadows,” which later became a successful franchise.

In 2016, Taika wrote and directed the adventure comedy-drama film “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” which received critical acclaim. He was honored with the New Zealander of the Year Award in 2017. That same year, he directed the blockbuster film “Thor: Ragnarok,” which became a huge success and established him as a blockbuster director. He also wrote and directed the period comedy-drama film “Jojo Rabbit” in 2019, which received two Academy Award nominations.

Currently, Taika is working on several feature films, including a live-action remake of the Japanese anime “Akira” and a Netflix animation series.

Personal Life

Taika Waititi married filmmaker Chelsea Winstanley in 2011. He has been a supporter of the New Zealand Labour Party and actively supported Jacinda Ardern during the 2017 general elections. He changed his last name to Waititi after his first short film.

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