Beth Allen

Beth Allen began her career in acting at a young age, when she joined a group called PAS Children’s Theatre in 1993. Since then she has gone on to perform in many series and is most well-known from the drama series The Tribe as Amber/Eagle. Other series include Power Rangers and her long running series of Shortland Street, and many more. I’ve asked Beth a few questions so that we can learn more about her. Here is what Beth had to say…

Beth, what was it that made you want to go into acting?

I went along with a friend to a kids’ drama course and got bitten by the bug. That was it! I started taking drama lessons and got an agent and the rest is history. 

What would you say is your favourite things about being a performer?

On stage: when you can feel an audience is really ‘with you’ and you draw energy from their focus. On screen: when you connect with your scene mates and breathe life into a script.

What would you say it is harder to do, voice over work or on stage? And why?

It depends. Any performance medium relies on good writing and good direction to feel natural and easy.

After playing Amber who lived in a viral apocalyptic world, how does it feel living through the real thing currently?

Thanks to the arrival of our third child, by the time I finished this questionnaire New Zealand had just moved into Level 1, with no new cases of Covid 19 for over two weeks, and the final case in NZ recovered. So right now, I’m feeling very grateful to be living where I do, but worried about the ongoing implications of the pandemic on our economy and those of other countries. However, I am pleased I never had to put my hair into those Amber knots. With three kids, I simply don’t have time.

You have done so much great work in the acting world, The Tribe, Power Rangers S.P.D, Overdrive, voice over for Beast Morphers, Treasure Island Trilogy and longest running series of Shortland Street. If you could make your own movie or series, with any actors both past and present. What kind of story would you want it to be and with whom?

If I could get Frances McDormand, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emma Thompson, Olivia Colman and Tina Fey into a room to write and act in something, I would happily play a broom.

Could you give us a little insight about your time growing up in Auckland, New Zealand?

I grew up in a leafy suburb in West Auckland with my sister, brother and Mum and Dad. I went to the local schools and spent our summer holidays in the Coromandel. It was a very stable, settled, blessed childhood.

If I came to visit Auckland, New Zealand. What is the first thing you would recommend for me, for something to do?

So much great stuff! We are surrounded by water, so our beaches are fantastic. The food is awesome. I’m at the stage in my life where I know the layout of the zoo very, very well, and we always have a good time there. In the not too distant future, I hope to go to Waiheke Island and drink wine at a vineyard again.

Outside of work, what kind of fun things do you like to do?

I have a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn; fun for me right now is lying down and not being asked to do anything for ten minutes!

Being a mum is tough work. What do you find the most rewarding about it though?

Watching the world open up for them and their relationships with their siblings develop.

Have you any causes that you’re interested in and help?

I did some volunteering with Lifeline, which is a listening service here in NZ. I was constantly amazed by peoples’ resilience and strength in the face of their often very difficult circumstances.

Could you tell us something about yourself, that we couldn’t learn through Social Media?

I’m good at finding car parks and bad at making curry.

If a youngster came to you and asked “What advice could you give me for my first time on stage”. What would be your response?

Breathe. Speak loud enough that the people at the back can hear you.

A wonderful interview with a wonderful talent. Hope you enjoyed and a great thanks to Beth Allen.

Moya Angela

Moya began her career the way most talented performers do, Theatre. Since then, she has continued her pursuit of lifting herself to greater heights, Cruises, America’s got talent and the greatest stage in the world…Broadway. Today, I asked Moya if she could tell us about herself, here is what the lowdown is…

When you first went in as a contestant for America’s Got Talent, did you ever imagine that you could make it as far as you did to become a semi-finalist?

You hope to, but you don’t know. I was very proud of that journey. Top 32 out of hundreds of thousands.

You’ve been working on the biggest stage in the world, Broadway, for years now. Even today. Do you still feel all that excitement from when you first began?

Oh yes. Each project is different and each time is equally exciting. Such an awesome experience.

In your spare time, what do you like to do for fun?

Travel. I like getting out of the city and experiencing new things.

Did you have to go through much training to get your singing voice or did it just come naturally gifted?

I’d say both. It is definitely a gift. But I had to train it to polish it. I was classically trained, so in college is where I worked hard at perfecting it.

I heard you’re an ambassador for Broadway in the H.O.O.D (Helping Others Open Doors). What is the responsibility of your position?
My position is to tell the world about a program that gives back to the community by providing arts programmes to those who otherwise cannot afford it. I also teach there and perform with the students.

How did it feel when you learned, that you had won the award for lead actress, not once but twice for the character of Effie White in Dreamgirls?

What a great feeling. You put in the work and you get rewarded for your achievements. I’m honoured.

What was your childhood like growing up?

My parents were/are great and my sisters are my best friends. We went to church a lot and I loved it. In high school I was in two choirs at any given time. Very much where my love for performing started.

To get to where you are today. Whom were some of your inspirations for helping you rise?
My big sister Toni inspired me to sing and my high school music teacher Mrs Wiehe made me realise I could do it professionally.

Could you tell us something about yourself that we couldn’t learn through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the internet?

I’m an introvert and I’m in the process of getting my real estate license.

Could you tell us a little bit about your one woman show Giving Life, that you perform on cruise liners?

It’s a story of my journey as a performer, people who I love that have passed away, the love of my life and things I’ve been through to get where I am now. Basically, me in a nutshell.

With many youngsters going into the performing arts, what words of wisdom would you give, if they came to yourself for advice?

Start performing in your local theatres. Build up your resume and never stop training. Get voice teachers and take acting classes. You can never be too good for your dream.

There you have it, another lowdown with another great talent, Moya Angela. Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Moya through this interview.

Adam Johnson

Adam is a great guy who is living an amazing life. A stand-up comedian, traveler and a talented actor. Adam’s first film feature was Sandman as Buzzbe. He has since then continued on with features such as Vamp U, Mythica and Dudes & Dragons. I asked Adam some questions so you could get to know him better, here is what he wanted to say…

What was life like for you growing up in Santa Monica, California as a child

I was born in the hospital in Santa Monica, but was raised in La Crescenta, CA. It was cool. We had a big yard and my dad really liked toys, so we had 3 3-wheelers, horses, chickens, a pool… and I had 6 siblings. We always had something to do. There was always something going on at or around our house. It was great. When I was 12 my family moved to a small town called Midway, Utah, which was completely different. There we learned to ski. We got ski passes at the local mountain, Wolf Mountain, for $90 dollars a year. And we spent a lot of time up there. We also had a really big yard. There was a pond, a river. A rope swing. We could go paintballing in the back yard or camping or fishing. We always had some friends over and were doing fun things like that. It was pretty great.

What made you want to go into acting

I was really shy growing up. It wasn’t until my senior year that I started to speak up and make a couple jokes here and there, and when I started to get some laughs, it boosted my confidence. I later decided that I wanted to be a stand-up comedian, which is what I did first.

When you go for auditions, do you ever feel that excitement of when you first started

Oh yeah, some auditions are more important than others. So, there’s always the feeling of excitement, and the projects get bigger and bigger. Auditioning is still the most difficult part of this whole industry. I guess the excitement comes in for really great roles or characters, or for great projects and the possibilities of working with great people.

When you aren’t acting, what things do you like to do for fun

I love watching movies, so I see as many as I can. I love going to see them on the big screen too, so I try to do that as often as I can. Now, I find myself just like everyone else, watching amazing shows, streaming on HULU, Amazon and Netflix. I love good comedies too. I perform as much improv as I can and I keep toying with the idea of getting back into stand-up as well. I also ride motorcycles (off road), play and watch Soccer (Argentina and Barcelona, huge Messi fan) and enjoy the mountains, camping and hiking and beach and do a bit of surfing. I also really love travelling.

When travelling, what’s your favorite place to visit

I love Italy, I could go there over and over. I loved Vernazza in Cinque Terre, but Sicily was amazing, so was Rome… and so many other places all over. The whole country really. I really want to learn Italian next. I got to Mexico a lot with my brothers to surf and ride motorcycles too. And fish tacosWow. I lived in Argentina for 2 years as a missionary way back in 1992, so Argentina definitely has a soft spot in my heart. I could easily go back there. Same with Australia. I spent some time in Sydney. Loved it there. I could go back on a regular basis. There is so much out there that I still need to see in Australia and the rest of the world. I guess I like travelling and could go on and on.

What type of movies and music are your favorite to watch and listen to

I really do love all kinds. Dramas, comedies, foreign films, action adventure, sci-fi… really, I have a pretty wide range. I like to see a variety of things. Same goes for music, although I probably listen to alternative music the most. I grew up listening to KROQ and that’s my jam. Listened to a lot of new wave in the 80’s. Depeche Mode and Erasure were a couple of my favorites. But now, like I said, I like it all, country, rap, some R&B, musicals, pop, classical… never was much into dance music, and EDM or stuff like that, but I can hang…

If you could make any movie you wanted, what would it be about

Wow. I would love to make an epic adventure. Something like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Braveheart. Or something like Guardians of the Galaxy. Some combination of those would be great.

What was being a director for the two movies The Singles 2nd Ward and Dawn of the Dragon Slayer like

I think I was listed as art director, which was helping build the sets and things like that. That stuff is fun, and it’s something I have done through the years to make extra money while pursuing acting and figuring out what it is that I wanted to do with my life.

Even though Mythica has finished, what did you enjoy most about the fantasy saga

Oh man… so many things. I came out of that experience with some friends that will be around for a very long time. We’ve shared so many fun experiences. Playing dress up with all of those great costumes and suffering the cold together. The heat. The exhaustion. The thrill of it all coming together and making something cool, and even the experience of the fans that have loved what we were able to create. It’s all been so much fun.

Tell us something about yourself, that we could not learn through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

I mentioned before that I was really quiet and shy growing up. Acting and comedy was not something I wanted to do from a young age, really. Not sure what I really wanted as a child, but it definitely involved staying out of the limelight. Pursuing acting came out of left field. My brother started, and talked me into moving to Los Angeles to pursue stand-up comedy. And through him, I stumbled into a love for acting. So, I guess it’s his fault. Sometimes I’m still shocked that this is something that I’m pursuing. And I guess at times I still doubt that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. But, I’m having a great time anyway.

If you hadn’t become an actor, where do you think you would be today

I would probably be in an office job somewhere. I started studying communications, only because it sounded like something that I could use my humor with… I’m really not sure how I thought that through. Actually, I do. And maybe this goes along with something that I’ve never really told anyone. I secretly loved those guys that would travel to schools and give talks at assemblies to the entire school (at least that’s how it worked at my small school) on self-confidence, or whatever they would talk about, but they were funny, educational, empowering, and just basically made you feel good. That was something I wanted to do.

A youngster comes up to you and asks what they need to make it in the business of acting, what words of wisdom would you pass on to them

I would tell them to study, focus and work hard. Take risks. Get as much experience as you can. I always relate it to standup comedy. You need stage time. Nothing can beat stage time. It’s invaluable. I would also suggest improv training. It’s helped me a great deal.

There you go. Another great interview, another great actor. Thanks Adam. Hope you all enjoyed learning a bit more about actor Adam Johnson.

Charles Terrier

‘A Little Resistance’ behind the scenes audio:

Charles is your typical Melbourne city guy, who has been in the acting industry for quite a few years now. He works extensively across all platforms of acting, not limited to Film, TV, Commercial and Theatre. I sat down with Charles to ask him a few questions about himself and here is what he has to tell you…

Tell us about yourself?

I’m obviously a Melbourne based and born Australian actor. I guess to sum it all up, I’ve grown up here since I came back from Sydney, when I was four years old. I went to school locally. After getting out of high school I kind of stumbled into acting. I went to university but I felt there was something more I wanted to be doing. Then, one day after seeing the movie Inception, I thought, I need to give this acting thing a go. Before I knew it, I was auditioning for drama school and was very fortunate to get in. Then it was training after that point. I started securing roles in Neighbours and the movie Blinder, then more recently it was Wentworth and Occupation. So, its pretty much been that process of once you get into the industry, and it’s obviously very challenging, just to keep plugging away, grinding and grinding, trying to forge a name for yourself while keeping the best version of yourself. Of course, in this industry you deal with a lot of rejection but you can’t let that get in your way. You need to be able to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and keep going. I guess for me, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last five to six years now.

Why did you decide to join the world of acting?

I guess, I partly answered that. I always loved entertaining, music and characters, that sort of stuff when I was a kid. It might sound silly, but I grew up watching a lot of movies and television and learning a lot of lessons from them. I wanted to do that too, but I didn’t know how. I knew it was a job, I didn’t know it was something that I myself could personally do. I didn’t think it was allowed or something, didn’t really fit in in some way. I come from a very creative family and they were always very encouraging. When I went to university, I was doing a plain old arts career because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I think that kind of indecisiveness about what I was doing at university allowed my imagination to run, what about this, what about that, and it lead me to guitar and acting. Acting seemed to be what really stuck. I mean like I said, I saw Inception. In the scene where Marion Cotillard’s character (this is a spoiler if people haven’t seen it, though you’ve had seven almost eight years to see it *laughs*) jumps off the fourth story windowsill and Leonardo DiCaprio’s character looks on in horror before breaking down. I just remember seeing that and naively, maybe even slightly arrogantly, thought to myself, I reckon I can do that. It sat in the back of my head for about ten-months, then one day I woke up and thought alright, I’m going to do this. I signed up with Star Now and started going out on short film auditions. Then when I was in Sydney, to see a concert, I met with my now manager Stephen Harmon, it wasn’t meant to be anything just an introduction into the industry, but I guess he saw something in me and took me on as a young actor just starting out. It wasn’t even 24 hours later before I was off! Into the auditioning room! So yeah! That’s pretty much why and how I started to join this world.

The 2013 film Blinder is an Australian rules football drama set predominantly in Torquay, Victoria, where you played the role of Glenn Hyde. How did you feel after seeing the finished product of your labour?

That was my first ever professional job. I had been acting for a total of three months at that stage. When it came out it had been about a year and three months, but that was very early success which was very exciting, very humbling and very terrifying at the same time I think. Doing it was amazing. When I finally got to see it on film I had one of those moments. Sitting in a cinema, my mum was next to me, she was my date and when I popped up on the screen for the first time, I got tingles down my arm and goose bumps. It was a weird sensation of wow, I’m on the screen. I remember this lady sitting on the other side of me that I didn’t know at all. She looked over at me and kind of smiled, as if thinkingOh wow this is the guy in this film. When she smiled at me, I thought – Wow, I’m an actor now. I’m in an Aussie rules movie and I grew up loving AFL football and playing football all my life and also spending my summers down in Torquay. It was very much the first thing I got to be involved in, something I knew very intimately as well. So, to see it on the screen and to have the shining lights and all the Australian celebrities and personalities that were there as well was amazing, and then have someone come up to you and say – Hey you were in the film, really well done. I had a great supporting role, wasn’t a big role by any means. But when I saw the film I was amazed at how much they ended up putting me in. I had graduated to a really substantial part, it was fantastic, I was really moved and it was incredibly encouraging.

You’ve appeared on Neighbours as Clay Blair, Counter Play as Easton Saunders, and now, you’ve completed the Australian Sci-Fi movie Occupation, directed by Luke Sparke coming out later this year. What can we expect from this film?

It’s interesting. Occupation is essentially, what would happen if Australia came under attack from a foreign enemy. It’s kind of like if you took Red Dawn and you combine it with Tomorrow When the War Began. It’s the combination of the two with the Australian element. Luke always put it really well, imagine what it would be like to Australia, because we always see it from the Americans perspective. Imagine country Australia, small town, you walk out onto your balcony or veranda in the morning and there is a massive military force that’s just rolled into town…what would you do. Essentially, it’s a small group of survivors who have to band together, who are from all different walks of life and have to find away to battle through the apocalypse, and stay alive. It was truly an amazing experience.

I also heard that the movie A Little Resistance was made by yourself and a colleague. Can you give us a little background on what this movie is about?

A Little Resistance is a story originally conceived by my colleague Michael Loder. He had been thinking about it for fifteen years. He grew up loving war films and that kind of work and right around the time we became friends, it was the first time I ever went around to his house, he said “I have something I want to show you”. We go out to the backyard, he opens the gate and shows me this trench that he’s built. He asked “What do you think?” and I replied “This is great”. He said “Thank god, you’re the first person to ever say that”. After that we were talking about it for, I think, close to two years. When I came back from America last year I said to Michael “We’ve got to do this now, or were never going to do this thing”. We wrote the first script, then we shot the entire film in about a month to five-week period with friends and other actors we knew. We directed it, we produced it and just recently we’ve decided to re-shoot a couple more things before we release it to round it all out and everything. It follows the story of an imaginary nineteen-fifties world. It has elements of the Vietnam War and World War Two kind of put together, we have two warring factions known as Preanna and Nantio. It’s like a Nazi regime vs the Viet Cong resistance, a guerrilla army, and they’re fighting over a small island in the middle, which is essentially a resource rich hub. It not only represents that but also liberation and freedom. We follow this one individual character Sophia Oleander, the king’s daughter, who after the death of her mother the queen, seeks to run away from the Preannan Kingdom and in her efforts to get as far away as she can, she ends up running into the revolutionaries and all hell breaks loose.

You studied acting at the 16th Street Actor’s Studio in Elsternwick, Melbourne. What kind of training did they put you through?

Rigorous. It was one of the best experiences of my life to put it shortly. From having no formal experience and then doing that course. It was a year and a half that I did a part time program. I had two days of training, then I was rehearsing the other five days or working on my craft or through scene study class or voice or movement or things like that. It was amazing, we learnt so many different methods of acting as well. A lot of people think that method acting is where you become the character but there’s a lot more to it than that, it’s much more complicated, what we learn from different schools of thought and training, from Strasberg to Meisner to Uta Hagen, for those out there who know what that is, is how to best utilise ourselves in service of the character and the story, through a range of different techniques and approaches. When I graduated, it was kind of the perfect jumping off point to take the next step in advancing my knowledge, my craft and my ability. It was a great way to throw yourself into the deep end and teach yourself how to swim, then move to the bigger pool and then throw yourself off the high-dive.

If you could make any type of movie with 3 actors, living or dead, who would you choose?

I love Australian film. But I’m also a big fan of Christopher Nolan. I loved Interstellar, Dunkirk, and Inception obviously, and I also love Guillermo Del Toro and Tom Ford so I guess I’d have elements of that. So, I’d start with Jessica Chastain, I think she is absolutely fantastic. She is so strong and a wonderful actress bringing such presence to her performances. Leonardo DiCaprio because he is great, he’s amazing. I guess if I could bring someone back from the dead, it would be Gene Wilder. I think he was so great and he had that ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time. I’d have them all engage in something weirdly humorous yet slightly dark. It would have to be a Tarantino sort of style to make it work. So, Gene Wilder, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jessica Chastain in a kind of raucous, yet incredibly dark futuristic kind of drama.

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

Outside of acting I’m a guitarist, I love music so I’m very big into that. I grew up loving sports and that was the first thing I really wanted to do, from AFL to Grid Iron and to Baseball, everything. It didn’t matter what it was if I could play it I would, and if it was competitive it was even better. I was horribly competitive. So, I love playing sport, keeping fit, and keeping active sort of thing. I guess music and sport, being able to see friends while doing that, going to concerts and sports games. I’m a massive fan of North Melbourne, we had a rough year last year, but it will pick up this year.

Do you have any charities or causes that you are passionate about?

Yeah. I’m a big fan of Beyond Blue. As someone who’s dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression in the past, I think what they do for not just kids but for men and women alike is fantastic. As I’ve grown up, my mum runs an Indigenous art gallery and has done a lot of outreach programs to help in the foreign community. So, I’m a very big supporter of Indigenous causes. Making sure everyone is getting a fair go, that sort of stuff. St Vincent’s as well, the Salvation Army they’re all fantastic and Lort Smith Animal Hospital is another big one. I’m a very big animal guy, so anything I can do to help animals. There are so many charities out there that do so many great things and really deserve the support. That’s just to name a few.

What would you say to a youngster that came up to you, and asked for some information on making it in the world of acting?

Interesting. For me, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from my manager and he said “Just do it, just do it, you’ve just got to do it”. It didn’t click at the time. A couple of years later I get what he was saying. Don’t think about it, don’t go oh maybe it could be a bit hard or how do I do it. Reach out to people who are doing it and ask questions. Then put yourself in a position where you just have to do it. Go to an acting school audition or go to a short film audition. If you don’t know where to find them Star Now is a great place to start. Facebook has a lot of groups and everything now, but I would say don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t pay off right away, as most people always say If it’s something worth doing, it takes a while. It does, you hear the stories of someone sitting in a café and someone comes along and says “Youre great. I’m going to make you a star”. You also hear people say that Margot Robbie appeared out of nowhere. No…no…no she busted her ass in Australia for years and then went overseas to America and worked her ass off and has an incredible work ethic. Jackie Weavers the same, Joel Edgerton and Jason Clark. All these great Australian actors. They will call you an over night success but that’s not to discredit all the hard work you’ve done. If it does happen for you right away, fantastic, keep going, be humble about it. Because if you are humble and keep working, that’s how you maintain your career and keep moving forward. My advice is if you really want to do it, then do it and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, don’t let anyone detract from you, those who say you can’t are just scared for themselves or because they never went after it themselves. That’s not to put any shame on them, you just have to listen to that voice inside of you. Do what makes you happy and you’ll never work a day in your life.

It was fun chatting with local actor Charles Terrier. Hope this helps you to understand him a little better. Also don’t forget to check out his movie Occupation, coming out this year.

Tim Downie

Tim Downie, English actor and writer of comedy. He trained in the theatre arts at Mountview Academy in Northern London. His first TV Series appearance was in The Bill, as Joey Paley. Since then, his career is going quite well. His first commissioned work “The Dead Moon” became the first non-operatic work to be staged at the Aldeburgh Festival. I wanted to learn more about who Tim was, so, I asked him and here is what he had to say…

Tell us about yourself?
I’m an actor, writer, rainy day walker, keen owl fancier and born worrier.

What made you decide to want to go into the world of acting?
Stories, telling stories. For me there is nothing more magical, more full of wonder than telling a story, a good story. It’s what I love doing and hope to do for a long time to come.

As a screen writer, you became a finalist in the New York Screenwriters Challenge in 2010. What was it like hearing the news in that moment?
I can’t begin to say how excited I was. A huge honour and an amazing feeling. I’ve always written shorts, in some way using them as a means to get to the heart of story and to be economical with words. But nothing beats seeing your name especially with a story that is close to your heart and that you think only you will ever like.

You have had quite a few projects this year. Such as War Machine, The Mercy and a few TV shows, Chewing Gum, Count Arthur Strong and Upstart Crow, which has been airing recently. What else can you tell us about them?
They all vary hugely. War Machine is a satire on the US involvement in Afghanistan, The Mercy is about the yachtsman Donald Crowhurst and his disastrous attempt to win the 1968 Golden Globe race. The others, hopefully, should be some light relief from all the war. I have been enormously lucky on all these projects to work with people I greatly admire and in some case have watched since I was a kid.

Another film of yours is coming out in January next year. The Mercy, which has Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz and of course yourself as the Style Editor. Can you give us an idea of what the story is about?
It’s the biography of yachtsman Donald Crowhurst and his disastrous attempt to win the 1968 Golden Globe Race, what unfolds is a tragic tale of what can happen when ambition is pushed to its limit. What happens when we fail? It’s a great story.

Another film of yours which is coming out in November this year is 6 Days, which has Mark Strong, Jamie Bell and Abbie Cornish and of course yourself as Jimmy ‘The Hack’ Nicholson. Can you give us an idea of what the story is about?
It’s about the siege of the Iranian embassy in 1980 told from the SAS point of view through Rusty Firmin, the Police negotiators and the press outside waiting to see how it would all end. Jimmy was a notorious journalist would only ever been wheeled out when death or murder was on the cards. He was known as The Prince of Darkness as he always dressed in black with a black cape and sunglasses. He was great fun to play.

What was it like for yourself growing up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England as a young man?
Well I actually grew up in a village very close to Hitchin and it was great, I had a great childhood I was incredibly lucky. We had acres of fields around where we lived and it felt like we had free reign to go anywhere. Its downside was that there was nothing to do, after you had climbed trees, fallen in rivers and built a raft that would never sail out of large barrels of sheep dip. The next village or town was four miles away so it didn’t offer that much as you got older. I think it was probably then that I started to read, just as a way to see different landscapes for a little while.

When you’re not acting, what do you like to do for fun?
I read, I’m an avid collector of rare books. I’m also a keen walker which is something I have recently taken to. Getting out into the countryside or even walking through towns and cities, there are many hidden places that we walk past every day that are beautiful, beguiling and empty but full of magic.

In all of the world, where would you say is your favourite vacation location to visit?
The Himalayas, my wife and I went there in 2012 and there is something otherworldly about the mountains, be it the rarefied air, a sense of place or maybe there are mystical things happening in them but it’s a place I would return to time and time again if I could. But in general, the mountains are the place I would choose above all others.

Are there any charity’s or causes, that you are passionate about?
I’m an ambassador of Blue Sky Autism, which do absolutely fantastic work in London and Scotland offering pivotal response therapy for children with autism.
www.blueskyautism.com

Can you tell us something about yourself that we couldn’t learn through the internet?
Every year on our anniversary I buy my wife an owl. Not a real owl as that would be unmanageable and possibly dangerous.

If a youngster came up to you, and asked what it took to make it in the acting. What advice would you pass onto them?
Persistence, shear bloody minded persistence. Knuckle down and know that if this is not the only thing you could ever do in your life, stop right now as it will eat you alive. Some are lucky, some are very fortunate but the majority have to grind. Take risks and believe in yourself.

I hope you enjoyed learning and reading about Tim. Now that you know a bit more about him, I’d also like to mention
Upstart Crow can currently be seen on BBC iPlayer.
The Mercy will be released in theatres on the 9th of February 2018

Liam Firmager

Liam Firmager. A Father, a friend and a hell of a director. Well known for many of his FILMS. Such as Sticks & Stones, Ricky! The movie, The Julian Paradox, Revelation and Peter Brocks: King of the Mountain. As they are a mix of feature films and documentaries. I had a sit down with Liam to ask about himself, to tell his story. This is what he had to say.
With all the professions, out there, what made you want to go into making documentaries?

I didn’t. I wanted to get into making film and films, not specifically documentaries. I do dramas, comedies, short films, music videos, and I also work extensively with Monash Uni and doing things for Vic Police, stuff like that. So, there is a varied and broad range of things that I work with. But documentaries are certainly something I like and really enjoy doing. Especially good documentaries are rare, and they are just as challenging as doing a feature film.

How much work actually goes into doing a project?

Too much…and, you never get the return on the effort that you make, ever. For most part, it’s a labour of love. And yes, I certainly make more money actually doing the side projects that I do such as music videos, and as I mentioned earlier doing stuff on Monash uni and Victoria police. That’s my real bread and butter, that’s what I pay the mortgage with, doing that sort of stuff. Whereas doing the feed films and feature films is a labour of love. There is money to be made and you can’t do it for free because you’ve got to live. But Australia is a small market in the big scheme of things. It’s a very niche market in a way, because we have a small population and an even smaller interest in local content, which is a shame. A lot of the best talents in Australia tend to have minor success here and then quickly flee overseas to Los Angeles or London where they can really make a good living. It’s a very rare thing for somebody to stay in Australia and be successful consistently, because the market is just so small and the opportunities are just smaller.
With documentaries it gives you a bit more flexibility. It’s more of an international thing, especially if your subject is an international subject, because you’re not a prisoner to geography. Whereas Australian content, such as drama films certainly are. We’re a limited market and it’s very hard to push them onto the international stage and get noticed, and it’s a very rare film that does that. Most films in Australia are made and created off the back of government funding because there is such a suspicion and a reticence for local investors to put money into Australian films. Again, it’s
very rare that they return the investment. You get the odd film director who can do that, like George Miller doing Mad Max Fury Road and all that sort of stuff. But that’s a rarity…very rare.

When you make these films, do you get to meet your subjects so you can really make the film as great as can be?

Absolutely. It’s imperative to chase down those kinds of key people for the story, or in the documentary your making. Otherwise you’re just relying on third hand accounts and that’s very subjective. Certainly, bringing together all the key people involved in a documentary story creates fantastic drama as well, because usually no two people can recollect the same event the same way. They all have their different perspectives as well, and so it very important to always consistently have this integrity of being objective, and never taking one or another person’s side in that kind of debate or conversation. The audience appreciate that too, because they don’t feel like you’re being condescending or patronizing to them. It actually allows them to make their own mind up about a story whether or not the subject is good or bad. There’s nothing worse than watching a documentary and feeling that you’re being manipulated or being asked to feel one way or another about something. So, a really good documentary will simply supply the information and then let the audience make their own mind up, and especially if you do it in a compelling way.

So, what is the current project you want to take a crack at?

The current project is a feature film. It’s a documentary on the life story of Suzi Quatro. She was an iconic rocker who made it big in the 70’s and continues still to this day, touring around the world in arenas no less. She was actually here a couple of months ago, in Australia, on her Australian tour. She’s remains incredibly popular. This is a woman who sold 55 million records so far and yet, so many people have either forgotten about her or aren’t even aware of her. The new generations don’t even know this woman, who was so important to music, existed. She was so influential on so many other female singer performers. So this is like an attempt to readdress that, but also introduce her to a new generation, a new audience. She’s been touring for 50 years, that’s half a century she’s been on the road touring. She started when she was 15 and now she’s 66, which is extremely impressive. This project will be released, hopefully, sometime this year once we sort out licencing issues. It has been delayed for about a year and a half and I flew around the world interviewing key people in her life. They were peers, all her family. I got to interview a lot of interesting people like Alice Cooper, Debbie Harry, Sir Tim Rice, KT. Tunstall, a lot of amazing people. Who all say “Suzi was this massive influence”. So, there you go, that’s what I’m doing.

When hearing the stories of the people you’re working on. Do you ever get surprised by what their tales are?

Hmmm…No. What the challenge is, and I’m sure a lot of documentarians would feel this way as well, your subjects have a persona that they’ve worked on for years, their public image, and they’ve worked on their brand for a long time. They can be very guarded. They do a lot of interviews with people, with journos and with media types, they’re so practised and rehearsed in their responses that it’s almost automatic. It’s almost like they created a persona that they wheel out for an interview. So you never really see the real person. And the challenge is to actually work your way through those layers and get to the actual real person, and to draw that out and give that to the audience. That was certainly true with working on the Suzi Quatro thing, because, she’s been in show business for 50 years and that’s a lot of interviews. She’s a very guarded woman, and understandably so. She would have been burnt a few times in her life, with interviews, articles, things like that and her persona is much rehearsed. So, to me, the real challenge, the satisfying challenge, is pulling back those layers and actually finding out who the real person is. Not only doing that, but then translating that into the film and into the documentary, so the audience can feel it. They feel like they’re privy to this person’s actual personality…and life. They’re never going to come out with a surprising revelation when you interview them, unless of course, you can navigate and work with them through the interview to get what you want and draw it out of them. That’s the fun, and you know when you get there, the tone of the interview changes. They’re more relaxed and there’s a bit of trust involved. It is a real trust issue with documentaries because you’re dealing with this person’s life, and it’s not only their life, it’s everyone around them as well, friends, family and associates. They can all be very protective of their subject, the principal person. So there’s a lot of mine fields you have to navigate, to get around and through to this person as the main subject. This is a massive challenge in itself, especially when you’re dealing with somebody who’s passed away, like Peter Brock for example. I developed a documentary on Peter Brock. You think it would be easy to create a documentary based on a famous Australian icon who had a lot of success. There was a lot of rumour and innuendo in his life. It was more challenging actually going through that mine field of friends and family all trying to protect what they see as a legacy. They all read his life in a specific way. So it’s either their version, or everyone else is wrong. Your challenge is to get to the truth, the objective truth, of who this person was. Example, why did he do what he did, why did he say what he said, and you have to get through that whole Pandora’s Box of opinion. They all believe they’re right. They all believe that their version of the person is the truth…like anything. I enjoyed that a lot, perversely.

If you could do a documentary with anyone, including historical figures, whom would you choose?

You know, I haven’t given that a lot of thought, surprisingly. You think I would, but I haven’t. You’ve
caught me off guard. I would say, I’d like to do a definitive doco on Christopher Hitchens, who was a militant atheist. A poster boy for atheism really, vehemently anti-religious. I have a different perspective to him of course, I actually believe in god and things like that. I think he did in a profoundly clever way. The guy was fearlessly intellectual and his debates were so entertaining to watch. He had a uniqueness to him as well, that set him apart from your garden variety duller run of the mill atheist. Dawkins who wrote The God Delusion, is just a dullard, he’s not entertaining, bright or sharp. He is just militant in his approach to it. Whereas Hitchens is a fascinating character. Duplicitous, a real iconoclast.

So, out of all your documentaries, which would you say was the toughest one to make come to life?

Toughest would be…I did a documentary on an historical figure from South America called Garcia Moreno and I travelled to Ecuador to do that. It was extraordinarily tough, because, number one, I didn’t speak Spanish and so everything had to go through an interpreter. Which is a long lengthy process, believe me. And number two, was that this guy had died in 1887 or something. There was no footage of him and very few photographs. So, trying to develop a compelling and interesting and visually stimulating documentary, when you don’t have access to actual footage or photographs is a big challenge, and I had to really push myself. There are solutions, like doing recreations, historical recreations, which is time consuming and expensive, but can be effective. So that was one solution. The other of course is animations, sketches and drawings that did exist that you could animate. Just making sure that your interview subjects are interesting and it was edited. But, that was the hardest, I wouldn’t do that again, because simply it was so time consuming. It also wasn’t my native language for a start, and it was such an old historical figure, I couldn’t just rip the archives from a TV station and say “Hey, what have you got on this guy. What footage exists”. Yeah, I’d never do that again. Any subject I do from now on I’ve got to make sure they’ve got bags of archive footage, so I can draw from it.

When you’re not being a director, what sort of things do you like to do for fun?

Well, I’m heavily into music, I used to be a muso. So I do enjoy still playing and writing music. I love restoring old classic British cars. At the moment, I’m working on a nice Jaguar Daimler. I like restoring things like old jukeboxes. But film is a big thing of course, like it’s all encompassing. So even though I also work with film, I just love film, and watching film. I love being an audience member and a critic as well. I don’t think I’d ever get sick of that. Some people who got into film didn’t last, because they said and they felt that they couldn’t just sit down and watch a film anymore. They were consistently critiquing it, watching how it was made, what the camera was
doing, or the technical deficiency of what was going on. So they had to walk away because they were losing their passion to actually just watch a film. So, to me, it was always important to separate being a creative person and making the film, to just actually being someone in the audience enjoying a film.

What’s your favourite kind of movie and music to listen and watch?

I love to watch films that are done on a low budget, but exceed the expectations of that budget. They’re usually the best because the director, producers and the crew are all working on an extraordinarily tight budget. So every dollar they spend has to appear on screen as $100 dollars. I think if they succeed, it is the most satisfying experience for the audiences to watch that kind of film. They put so much effort into the story and the characters because they have to, there’s no other choice. They can’t rely on CGI or explosions or a big marquee name to pull it over the line. They’re usually dealing with unknowns, or first timers. So I find those kinds of films really satisfying when they get it right, really enjoyable, both from a film maker’s perspective and an audience perspective.
I think that British and Irish films tend to do that really well because they don’t have the budgets of Hollywood but they have the talent and they have to rely on the story. The story can be so compelling, fascinating and rich. I find it hard to enjoy Australian films for the very reason that I think that there isn’t enough emphasis on story or script. It almost feels like films in Australia go through a process of committee. So in order to get funding to do your film, you have to submit your script through a committee that is generally agenderised. They have a specific motive or a gender of content or theme. A lot of great sort of genre films are completely overlooked in Australia. If you went to film Vic and said “I’ve got this great idea, it’s a western alien zombie comedy”. You wouldn’t even get a look in. Now, it might be the greatest script in the world, might even be hilarious, you might even have a great cast attached to it, but they just wouldn’t look at it, because it doesn’t fit into what they want to show as Australian culture, which is a shame. We’ve got to be far more broadminded. It’s like New Zealand has a far more potent kind of a film enterprise than Australia. Like, Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings and stuff like that. That just shows great foresight, great passion, and great faith in their film makers. Now, if you pitched Lord of the Rings to Australia, 20 years ago, you would have been laughed out of the office. They would have laughed at you and said “What do you think you’re doing”.
Music, I love all sorts of quality music, 60’s music, psychedelia, I like soul, I love new wave, I love
heaps of stuff. In fact, it’s easier to tell you what I don’t like. I don’t like manufactured pop, I don’t like metal, not a big fan of new country and stuff like that. But, if it’s anything to do with soul, jazz, 60’s rock, I love it, fantastic.

So, if a younger person came up to yourself and asked what skills they needed to become a director. What knowledge would you pass onto them?

Have no preconceptions. Avoid film school. If you want to be a camera man, or a sound engineer or work the lights, or be in the creative side of things like art, or be a producer especially, by all means go to film school. There are essential skills you need to navigate and actually use to get into the industry and do well. But, I think for a director, it’s a completely different ball game, because a director is actually about life experience and it is about translating other people’s life experiences too. You can’t teach that. You can’t go to film school for that. You can learn composition, sure, any idiot can learn composition with a camera. So the most important thing is just getting out there. Get out there with a camera and start filming. It doesn’t matter what you film, whether or not you’re doing music videos for your mates or a school concert or whatever. You’re constantly learning and developing craft. I think, most importantly of course is life experience. It’s about stretching yourself and taking yourself out of your comfort zone to find your subject, to find your story and working with people especially. It takes a real fascist to be a film director, because you have to be. Film is not a democratic process. Post production is a democratic process, when you’re promoting a film. But, to actually get a film made, you can’t do it by committee, you can’t do it by democracy. You need one person who’s leading the charge and has the vision and knows exactly what they want on print. Anyone who tells you different is mediocre. When you think about all the greatest directors, whether they were Hitchcock or Polanski or Ridley Scott, they were, definitively, the masters of their destiny and they knew exactly what they wanted. Francis Coppola, no one’s going to tell him how to frame his shot, no one’s gonna tell him how to modify his script. So, there’s a certain fascism, I mean that in the best way of film. You need to take control, you need to be the one with the vision and you need to push it, override people, even when they’re telling you you’re wrong. If you’re absolutely focused and believe that the vision you’re looking for is correct, then that’s going to be right or wrong. It’s either going to be fantastic or it’s going to be the Hindenburg…you know, crash and flames. It will never be mediocre, it will never be ordinary.
So go to your EBay or your local cash trader, and, buy a half decent camera, and just get out there and start shooting with your friends. Always be looking to improve yourself. Always be looking to do something better and more interesting. Networking is important, like when you start working with people you can trust, and they’re talented, hold on to them, treat them with respect and take them on that journey with you. You can’t buy that kind of talent. Watch as many films as you can. Seriously… if you can’t sit down and watch a film a night and study that film and love that film and pull a whole bunch of inspiration from it, then you’re in the wrong game. It’s not an easy path, it’s not an easy career at all. It’s not glitz and glamour. It’s not red carpet. It is like 0.5% of what’s
involved. All the stuff you see on TMZ is fantasy. Most film work, especially documentary work is solitary lonely work, where you sit there for 10 hours a day, consumed in your subject, editing away for a year sometimes. That’s what it takes. If you’re doing anything less than that, you’re not going to make it, and your film is not going to be interesting. There is a real commitment that is involved, and if you don’t have a really strong work ethic, and you’re not fully committed, if you’re not prepared to roll with the feast and the famine in terms of money, if you can’t do that stuff, then forget it and work in IT where its guaranteed. It’s got to be a life commitment, it’s something you have to give your soul to. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true. And, those who are prepared to do that and love it when they’re doing that, are the ones who will go far and will do something. Those who don’t particularly want to work in IT, who think film sounds glamorous and exotic, sounds like a bit of fun, have no idea how much work goes into it. The hours and the work you have to put in…it’s huge. But, in saying that, when you finish something, and it’s well received, or when you get your first freshly printed DVD of that film and it arrives in the post in nice boxes, then that’s an amazing feeling. You think, wow, that was worth it…incredible. When you walk into Blockbusters and see your film on the shelf and people rent it, that’s fantastic. It’s quite exciting. So, all that hard work paid off.

Jon Huertas

Jon Huertas at the American Premiere of BATTLESHIP, Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, Los Angeles, California May 10, 2012 Photo Credit Sue Schneider_MGP Agency

Jon Huertas is a very talented actor, singer and director. Jon lives in Venice, California and went into the performing arts and appeared in many TV shows, such as Moesha, Sabrina the teenage witch, NYPD Blue, Castle and over 25 more series. Using his talented musical skills Jon created the urban pop album grown and sexy which is made up of a Hybrid of pop, R&B, funk and dance music. He even has a newly formed band called Shay•Jean with fellow actor Seamus Dever also from Castle. Jon has also been nominated 5 times in his career and won 3 for his talented role as Javier Esposito in Castle. I asked Jon if he had some time for an interview, so I could ask some questions and here is what he said in the interview.
What is it that made you decide to go into the performing arts?
There’s a certain fulfilment an actor, singer or any artist gets from being able to affect someone’s emotional state when that person sees, watches or hears the work…That’s always driven me.
Where and who was it, that taught you to sing, or did you have a natural talent for it?
I think that anyone who pursues a career in the arts already has the instincts inside of them for what it is they are good at…it’s up to that artist to find the sources of inspiration and the right people and programs to foster it but always staying true to your own artistic prowess is what will help a person be successful. I chose the right people, other artists and teachers to help me hone the tools I use.
When you’re not on stage or singing, what sort of things do you like to do for fun?
California has an endless amount of things to do. But I don’t exclude the world so travelling is a huge part of what I like to do. From Africa to Sebastopol, California, there are so many cool places to see and experience…otherwise I love kickin’ it in my neighbourhood in Venice, California.
What was going through your mind, when you were not only nominated, but also won the award in 2012 for favourite TV actor in a supporting role, in a drama on Castle?
Humbled…I do this for me so to think that other people know what I do and recognize me for something is crazy to me. It’s so humbling and can feel ridiculous until you realize what an extreme honour something like that is. Then it’s just awe in the moment.
How much fun did you have working alongside Seamus Dever, Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion?
How much water is in the Pacific Ocean? A Lot…

Even though you’ve been in the TV, Music and Live Stage business for a long time, do you ever feel that sensation of back when you first started?
Always. I make it a point to retain that excitement. There was a time when I lost it and I feel it affected performance and career and my mental health in a way. So making sure I appreciate the amazing opportunities I’ve had and still might have keeps it exciting.
What was it like going behind the camera, and being in and making the short films, The Box and Lone?
It’s was challenging – First time directing is already a challenge and then casting yourself makes it even harder but I was the only actor I could afford at the time so I had to be in it. I’m trying now to find the right project to direct as a feature without the actor Jon Huertas in it.
Where do you think, you would be today, if you had never got into the performing arts?
I’d probably be a fireman or a Police Officer or in some type of public servant type of capacity.
Can you tell us something about yourself that we couldn’t learn through the Internet or magazines?
No…that’s the problem with Internet and Magazines. Everything’s already out there. – Choosing this lifestyle I’ve had to give up the level of anonymity that people who aren’t in the public eye benefit from. I didn’t want to be an actor for fame or anything like that so that is actually the hardest thing about this job I deal with because I actually like my privacy.
If someone came up to you and asked how to make it in the performing arts, what words of wisdom would you pass to them?
If it’s in your heart, never stop, never give up and never quit.
It was fun getting to chat with Jon Huertas and tell his story. I hope you all enjoyed reading this interview as much as I liked doing and writing it to share.

Poppy Drayton

Published on St Kilda News

Poppy Drayton is a wonderful happy person who has been acting professionally since 2012. She landed her first major role as Elizabeth in the TV movie “When Calls the Heart” and later went on to play Madeleine Allsopp in “Downton Abbey.” Poppy has also done stage work, appearing as Leonora in “The Green Bay Tree” at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London in 2014 and Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” She recently, in 2016, played a memorable performance as the elven princess Amberle Elessedil in “The Shannara Chronicles.” I asked Poppy if she had some free time to answer some questions and she was happy to help, so I began with.

What was it that inspired you to want to become an actress?
I travelled quite a lot growing up, and lived abroad for 10 years so I had a lot of change in my life but acting was always the one constant. I loved being in sketches and school plays so it seemed like the natural progression to go to drama school to train, which I then did for 3 years.

How happy were you when you landed your first major role in When Calls the Heart?
I was over the moon. It was my first major on-screen role and it took me to Romania for 3 weeks. Naturally I was a bit daunted before I got out there because I was in a new country with a bunch of people I’d never met, with a lot of important work ahead of me but within a couple of days, I felt right at home. I had a wonderful team around me and a lovely director, Michael Landon Junior, so I was in safe hands.

If you hadn’t become an actress where do you think you would be today?
I was going to go to Art College to study photography because I had dreams of becoming a travel photographer, so geographically, who knows, I could’ve ended up anywhere!

What was going through your mind when you were told that you had been cast to play the Elvin Princess Amberle in The Shannara Chronicles?
Utter disbelief! I was filming another film on Osea Island at the time and my schedule was pretty rigorous so when I was asked down to London to screen test for Amberle, there was a chance I wasn’t going to be able to make it. Luckily I did, and found out a few days later, I’d got the part. I don’t think I stopped smiling for weeks.

What was life like as a kid growing up in England?
I actually spent most of my childhood abroad. My father’s work meant that we travelled around quite a bit so I didn’t settle back to the UK until I was a bit older. It took some adjusting coming home, especially as I’d picked up quite a strange Anglo/American/Dutch accent on the way. It definitely gave me a bug for travelling.

When doing the Shannara Chronicles, what was it like working with Ivana Baquero and Austin Butler?
It was incredible, they’re both such brilliant actors and lovely human beings. I felt very lucky getting to know them over the course of the 6 months. By the end, we were practically family.

When you were travelling. What was your favourite location around the world to visit and why?
New York has a special place in my heart. I lived there when I was 3 but I went back recently for the first time since, and fell in love with it. There’s a wonderful quote by Simone De Beauvoir that goes “There’s something in the New York air that makes sleep useless,” and I think that captures it perfectly. You can’t rest in New York; you just have to explore.

How surprised were you by how good the effects were in the Shannara Chronicles?
I knew they’d be pretty remarkable because some of our Special Effects Team worked on The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movies, but the finish result surpassed all expectation. It’s so exciting to finally see on screen the things you’ve been imagining for so long.

In your spare time. What sort of things do you like to do for fun?
I still love photography and take my Canon AE-1 camera with me wherever I go.

What reason was it that brought your attention to the character of Amberle Elessedil and made you want to audition for her?
I was captured by her mix of vulnerability and strength. Amberle has so many hurdles to overcome throughout the series and what really struck me was the idea of playing someone who has to push herself so hard to fulfil her destiny. I hope this inspires young girls to realize their potential and hits home the message that they are capable of doing everything boys can do, if not more.

If someone asked you what it takes to become an actor, what words of wisdom would you give them?
I would tell them to listen and observe the world around them. Become fascinated by people and how they behave. Also, you never stop learning; so go to classes and train. If you have the passion, go for it!

Well there you are, a wonderful interview from a talented actress who will keep showing us many more great movies and series to come. Hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it up.

Michala Banas

Published on St Kilda News

Michala Banas was born in Wellington, New Zealand and got an early start in the acting industry in her first commercial at the age of 18 months. Later at the age of 5 Michala made her film debut in Dangerous Orphans and when coming to Australia made her television debut in Mirror, Mirror in 1995. Michala Banas made her big appearance in 2001 in the drama series Always greener as Marissa Taylor and has done many greater shows since then. McLeod’s Daughters, Winners and Losers, Neighbours, and most recently Upper Middle Bogan’s which have all helped to make her the great actress she is today. Michala is also an accomplished singer after releasing a single in 2003 of the song (Kissin the wind) which made the top 30 on the Australian Recording Industry Association single charts.

What or Whom was it that inspired you to want to become an actress?

Because I grew up with my father in the industry, I spent so much time in the theatre, or rehearsal rooms, or on a set. I loved that world as a child, and so I think my passion for acting just came naturally. I’ve been inspired by a lot of people over the years, but I don’t actually think there was one person or thing that spurred me on to become an actor when I was a kid.

What was it like as a kid growing up in New Zealand?

Michala: I will always feel huge love for and a connection to New Zealand, it was a great place to grow up. My two older brothers and I grew up with my Dad. When I was really little, he was running a theatre in Wellington, so I spent a lot of time there, and I loved it. On one hand, we had a pretty average childhood- going to school, playing with friends, riding bikes, exploring etc, but on the other hand, I was also working as an actor when I was really young. Sometimes I was on set filming a movie or commercial. So I suppose I didn’t have what is considered a normal childhood, but it was what I knew, and I had nothing to compare it to, so it felt normal to me.

How did it feel when you were told you got the role for the character Anna Hanna in Dangerous Orphans?

That was over 30 years ago, so I can’t really remember the specific moment I was told, but I would have been excited. I loved acting, even when I was very young, so any opportunity I was given to work, I relished. I do remember that I loved making that movie though. It was such fun, and the cast and crew were very sweet to me. I recall shooting a bunch of scenes on the beach one day, and it was the height of winter in Wellington, so it was windy and freezing. The beautiful woman playing my mother (Jennifer Ward-Leyland) gave me chewable vitamin C tablets so I wouldn’t get a cold. It’s funny the little things you do remember.

You have been in a lot of memorable shows such as Round the twist, Always Greener, McLeod’s Daughters, Winners and Losers, Upper Middle Bogan and many more, what has been your favourite role?

I’ve honestly loved them all for different reasons. It’s hard to pick a favourite. That’s like trying to pick ONE favourite movie or book. I can say that I have absolutely LOVED playing Amber Wheeler. She is a great character, and Upper Middle Bogan is an absolute blast to make. I’m really looking forward to shooting season three soon.

When you’re not acting, what do you like to do for fun?

Like most people, I love spending time with my friends. It can be hard when I’m filming to get enough time with them, so I really try to make the most of them when I’m not working. I love music. Listening to it, writing it, playing it. I love going to the movies, and I adore being near the water. Summer or winter, a walk along the beach is the best.

If you never got into acting what do you think you would have become instead?

I think I would still probably work in the entertainment industry. Maybe as a make-up artist. I love how transformational make up can be. It plays such a huge role in creating a character. I’d love to direct too. Being an actor means I get to investigate human behaviour, and good directors do that too.

Even though it was temporary. How did it feel getting to be on one of the biggest dramas on Australian television as Libby in Neighbours?

It was a whirlwind! I only had a few days to get 11 years worth of someone else’s character work into my head. I never tried to replicate Kym Valentines Libby, but I wanted to at least get the essence her. The shoot was fun for me though. I worked with some really amazing and lovely people, including my close friend Brett Tucker, so I had a ball. It was a heavy shooting schedule and lots of hard work. I learnt a lot, and the experience was a full one.

If you could write a series or TV movie what would it be about?

Maybe something about a young Jedi knight helping to destroy the Death star or something. Has somebody thought of that already though?….

What did you have to go through to learn how to be the character of an Upper Middle Bogan?

Amber came pretty naturally to me. As much as she is a gutter-mouthed bogan, she is also fiercely loyal and caring. She just doesn’t show it the way most do. I think that people like her so much not only because she gets the best lines in the show, but because of what is at her core. All the hard work regarding preparation for this role was done with exceptional writing. Robyn Butler wrote such brilliant scripts and had such clear ideas about Amber, my job was easy. She leapt off the page. I just had to get out of the way and play.

If someone came up to you and asked for some insight into what it takes to be an actor, what would you say to them?

So many things!
I’d start with Love. You have to absolutely love it.
Be prepared to work hard at it, both when you have a job and when you don’t.
Try not to take rejection too personally.
Always be pleasant to work with.
Don’t sit around and wait for a job- Create your own work.
Get to know yourself. Well. And really take care of your heart, soul, spirit and mind. That way, you can safely bring all your ‘stuff’ to a character and not fall apart.
Take risks. Do things that scare you.
You also need to be able to handle the fact that the work is sporadic, and be OK with a lack of stable income too.
Remember that it should be FUN. Even when you work on something heavy or dark, you should be enjoying doing it.

Michala Banas, who is a very hard and dedicated actress with a great sense of humour, was so nice to allow us to get to know her a lot more.

Meghan Ory

Meghan Ory is a Canadian actress who was born in Victoria, British Columbia and has enjoyed an amazing life. Back in the day Meghan made her film debut in a cable movie The Darkling’s in 1999 and has only moved on up since then appearing in many TV movies and TV series Meghan has shown again and again why she was right for those choices. Meghan has also gone on to write her own teen book series called Chronicles of the girl wars based on her high school years. Meghan after being part of the show Once upon a time for many years is playing the character of Ruby/Red Riding Hood who fights too except her heritage of being both human and werewolf.

When you were chosen to be Ruby/Red Riding Hood in Once upon a time, what was going through your mind when you heard the news?
I was very happy, heard about the show and wanted to be in it. Loved reading the books.
What was you’re faviorite moments in Once upon a time?
Too many to name.
What was the reason you were drawn to this show in particular?
I liked what it was about and I liked what my character.
When growing up what inspired you to want to become an actress?
Seeing actresses on TV and wanting to do that someday.
What do you think of your Once upon a time acting family?
They are really nice and cool.
Now that you’ve returned to the show, what more would you like to see your character Ruby go through?
More romance and getting what she wants.
What on the scene location for filming was your favourite?
The Woods.
How well do you feel you relate to your character Ruby in real life?
I don’t relate to her that much.

What do you think of the costumes and make-up that were designed and created for the characters in the show?
I like them a lot
After many years of being in the show, how surprised are you with how well it’s doing?
No
How much fun do you have while doing once upon a time with everyone?
I have a lot of fun.
What do you think of the Directing of the show?
It is good.
What’s next for you?
Chesapeake Shore and Dashing through the snow and more movies and shows.

It was very nice getting to do an interview with Meghan Ory, such a wonderful person with such a fun personality. Well I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it up for you all.