‘An Enormous Privilege’: What Drew Ming-Zhu Hii to Stan Original Series ‘Prosper’

Prosper Stan series

“Prosper” is about the dire consequences that occur when religious corruption and unchecked capitalism run amok. The show follows the Quinn family, founders of an evangelical megachurch, U Star, which wants to conquer the world. The family preaches a message of faith, love, and acceptance to their thousands of followers while protecting shameful secrets.

Positioned on the brink of a lucrative American expansion, the family is on the verge of catapulting into a new echelon of wealth and power. A highly topical show, U Star draws parallels to real-life churches like Hillsong, Horizon or C3, which are fighting against the prevailing tide of secularism by embracing contemporary tools of capitalism, using marketing, social media, and celebrity culture to reach the masses.

There’s no hiding from the fact that religion is a global Australian export. When the show’s creators, Matt Cameron and Jason Stephens, sat down and thought about the premise of their show, they pondered: ‘what is it that Australia exports on a global scale?’ They kept coming back to religion. 

Credit: Stan

In “Prosper”, Ming-Zhu Hii plays Taz Quinn, the wife of Dion (Ewan Leslie) from patriarch and head pastor Cal’s (Richard Roxburgh) first marriage. Taz is a woman of the church in the mould of her mother-in-law and mentor, Abi (Rebecca Gibney), who is a formidable force in her marriage and within the church. Taz prides herself on her role as mother, wife and servant of God.

With four children under 12, she is a force to be reckoned with, running a household as well as working full-time at U Star. Her husband Dion is a pastor in the church, plagued by feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy as he desperately tries to win his father’s approval. Taz wishes for her husband to gain more control within the church, with the pursuit of power helping her to fill the void she feels in her hollow marriage. 

Ming-Zhu, who’s known for her roles in “La Brea” (2021), “Peter Rabbit” (2018), and “Halifax Retribution” (2020), began her career over two decades ago and has since been a constant presence in television, film, and theatre, not just in Australia but in the US, where she has spent some time living and working. She’s also worked as a voiceover artist, playwright, and filmmaker. 

Asked about her acting career, she says, “When I was younger, I was testing for the roles of the ingénue, purely by dint of my age and where I was at, and it was never right, and I never booked those roles,” she laughs. “As soon as I got a bit older and I could really sink my teeth into roles with a bit more gravitas and screen weight, I really started to feel like things were in flow for me.

The role of Taz Quinn is certainly no exception. “She’s this very strong type A personality within the church and within her family. I sort of joke that she’s the CEO of the family, and she loves a good spreadsheet,” Ming-Zhu explains.

When asked what drew her to the project, Ming-Zhu explains, “There was this incredibly spicy, quite nuanced, and very thrilling depiction of life inside a family who runs a really hefty, powerful business that also happens to be a space of faith and I think the duality and the conflict of that really fascinated me from the get-go.”

“I don’t think you get more privileged in Australia than on a gig like this. Rox (Richard Roxburgh) and Bec (Rebecca Gibney) were just perfect to head up the family,” she adds about the show’s cast. “I think the casting of the family itself, particularly being able to work opposite Ewen Leslie, was an enormous privilege because he’s so rigorous.

“He’s so deeply devoted to finding where the characters and the relationships of the characters sit within the arch. The calibre of all these really strong actors meant that the entire ensemble’s game was really lifted. Someone described it to me the other day as being in a masterclass while being on set, and I think that’s a pretty accurate description.”

Every episode of “Prosper” is now streaming on Stan