Nadya Vessey lost her legs as a child but now she swims like a mermaid.
Ms Vessey’s mermaid tail was created by Wellington-based film industry wizards Weta Workshop after the Auckland woman wrote to them two years ago asking if they could make her a prosthetic tail. She was astounded when they agreed.
She lost both legs below the knee from a medical condition when she was a child and told Close Up last night her long-held dream had come true. “A prosthetic is a prosthetic, and your body has to be comfortable with it and you have to mentally make it part of yourself,” she said.
Ms Vessey told a little boy: “I’m a little mermaid” when he asked what happened to her legs and the idea stuck.
Weta Workshop director Richard Taylor, more used to winning Oscars for visual effects from movies such as Lord of the Rings, was delighted to make it happen.
“She was very patient. We haven’t always been able to fulfil some requests. We were engaged in it pretty quickly because it was a challenge.”
Weta costumer Lee Williams, who worked on the suit between film projects with seven other staff, told Close Up she “wanted [Nadya] to be beautiful and sexy”.
After seeing Ms Vessey test the tail in Kilbirnie pool then frolic in the harbour, Ms Williams was stoked. “It was absolutely amazing. It’s beautiful to watch Nadya swim and to see that dream come true and to be a part of that. I feel quite blessed.”
The suit was made mostly of wetsuit fabric and plastic moulds, and was covered in a digitally printed sock. Mermaid-like scales were painted by hand.
Mr Taylor said not only did the tail have to be functional, it was important it looked realistic. “What became apparent was that she actually physically wanted to look like a mermaid.”
This article appeared originally in the Sunday Star Times of New Zealand.