Celeste Barber (Image: Netflix/Steven Chee)

Actor and comedian Celeste Barber will executive produce and star in new Netflix ANZ comedy drama, Wellmania.

Barber is set to play the lead role in the eight-episode series inspired by the author and journalist Brigid Delaney’s book, Wellmania: Misadventures in the Search for Wellness, and co-created by Benjamin Law.

The story follows human tornado Liz as she is forced to rethink her ‘live fast die young’ attitude following a major health crisis. Throwing herself body-first into a wellness journey, she tries everything from the benign to the bizarre in an attempt to get well quickly, and reclaim her old life.

To be filmed in Sydney, the project will be produced by Fremantle Australia, with Barber executive producing alongside Chris Oliver-Taylor (who has recently moved from Fremantle to become Netflix’s head of physical production) and Warren Clarke. Bree-Anne Sykes is the producer.

Law and Belinda King are co-executive producers and will also lead a writing team consisting of Romina Accurso, who will also serve as script producer, Nick Coyle, and Amy Stewart.

Barber has previously worked with Netflix, voicing Skylar the koala animated feature Back to the Outback, and said she was “so excited” about the new project, describing the team as “awesome”.

“We’ve been working on it for a while and I’ve been busting to tell everyone about it. I’m drawn to projects that centre around interesting, dynamic and complex lead female characters and that’s exactly what Wellmania is.

“I’m stoked to be working with Netflix and tell this Australian story to an international audience, and to also be an executive producer so I can boss people around.”

Having appeared in shows such as Home and Away and All Saints early on in her career, Barber has since gained a new legion of followers for her parodies of celebrities on social media, taking aim at A-listers ranging from Gwyneth Paltrow to Cindy Crawford.

Netflix director of local originals Que Minh Luu said Barber embodied exactly what Netflix ANZ was striving for.

“The search for wellness and meaning is a fundamental human drive, and in a post-pandemic world this quest carries for us more weight than ever,” she said.

“To have an artist with Celeste’s warmth and comedic talent guide us through the extremes, triumphs, and revelations of self-improvement and understanding is an absolute delight, and one we know our members will love.”

Clarke, who is head of scripted development at Fremantle Australia, said working with Barber and Netflix was a “dream come true”.

“We cannot wait to see the impact that this series has in Australia, and right across the globe,” he said.

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