While well-known actress Millie Samuels will strike anyone with whom she comes in contact as a truly down-to-Earth Australian, this young thespian has most certainly reached the level of international player after more than a decade in the film industry.
Millie, who honed her craft at Oscar-nominee William H. Macy’s Atlantic Acting School, has forged her place in entertainment by way of playing a wide range of characters in numerous successful productions. The topic we’ve sat down to discuss with the leading lady on this occasion though is specifically her successful partnership with streaming giant Netflix. That association has seen her leverage critically acclaimed Australian TV show “The Gods of Wheat Street” to international audiences. In turn, fans around the world have become familiar with the Sydney-local, who has also had projects screen in prestigious film festivals in New York and Los Angeles. Online series Girt by Fear, directed by Hyde & Seek’s Yianni Andrikidis, screened at the NYC Webfest in 2017, while film Three Hearts notably screened at the TCL Chinese Theatres in LA for the Dances with Films Festival in 2015. In both projects, Millie played the lead role – adding to her impressive roster of diverse screen performances.
Regarding Netflix and Gods of Wheat Street, Millie enthusiastically outlines her character Anastasia Hamilton. “[She] was integral to the plot as I had the romantic storyline. Viewers enjoyed watching this romance grow with every episode and to see Anastasia’s morals outgrow her bigoted father and eventually convinced her mother to abandon him too. Although not initially apart of the Freeburn clan, it was her heroic heart that would do anything for love that eventually lead her to be accepted.”
Millie adds with a smile, “Everybody loves a good romantic storyline and the relationship between Tristian and Anastia surely gave audiences that…it was so well received that Netflix bought the streaming rights.”
This awareness of how her characters fit into the storylines of each project in which she has been cast has allowed Millie to develop an excellent reputation amongst filmmakers, a testament to the notion that being a hard-working team-player – especially with companies like Netflix and ABC – never goes unnoticed. When assessing her body of work, it’s clear Millie is an top-tier actor because she understand that she’s one part in a bigger machine, yet still gives 150%. This is a testament to a unique and strong combination of self-belief when it comes to her craft, but no ego when it comes to her status.
She further explains, “Now that Netflix has picked it up the show, the viewers only get larger as word travels and they are able to watch the series in its entirety. To have this touching series be given another chance to win over audience’s hearts was definitely a highlight for me.”
Undoubtedly, Millie’s ability as an actor to simultaneously tap into strength and vulnerability helped propel the story forward. Were it not for her gripping performance and chemistry she created with Tristan – played by SyFy Hunters star Mark Coles Smith – the evolution of each character would not have happened. As Millie clarifies, “It is the love and connection between these two characters that helps to break down the racial tension in the town… She brings hope and resilience to the story, she is determined to prove to the Freeburn’s that she is nothing like her father…inspir[ing] Anastasia’s mother to leave her abusive marriage.”
Undoubtedly, the crucial role her characters plays in the series, and how successful the show has been for Netflix, goes to prove that Millie is firmly a part of the Netflix family.
On the other end of the spectrum is Millie’s portfolio of film work. Compelling stories which have called for Millie’s craft include film The Passenger, which screened at the prestigious Chauvel Cinema in Sydney’s Paddington, and Flow, which drew packed crowds to the biggest independent cinema in the southern hemisphere, the Cinema Nova Carlton Melbourne. The diversity of the showcases in which Millie’s work has appeared ensure that she has a reach in different pockets of the industry, leading to her appointment as a judge for the highly regarded Monthly Film Festival, and various roles in production at companies like Network 7 and most recently for a film with a Disney star who boasts an enormous social media following.
“Judging [the Monthly] is an honour…the panel love my input as I have such a broad experience within the industry…even working with Disney star Sofia Riley, who has 1 million followers on Instagram, gives me a comprehensive understanding of how everything works at an international level.” She adds with a laugh, “I can’t believe Instagram is a thing now!”.
Of course, while this reputation might lead someone to develop an ego, as we stated in the beginning of this article, Millie is first and foremost down-to-earth. Her type of relatable personality, combined with her success, has meant she was selected to be the face of Arnotts, Australia’s most iconic maker of biscuits which retains its Aussie charm in spite of the fact it boasted a gob-smacking revenue of $1.09 billion in 2015.
“I was the face of the new line of shapes and was exciting to see the ad played nationally for one of Australia’s largest food companies in the Asia Pacific region” Millie states.
Arnott’s exports continue to grow, with the company’s Australian-made biscuits now being shipped to more than 40 countries around the world including Japan, the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Tahiti and New Zealand.
Millie elaborates that “having that kind of…exposure for such an iconic company like Arnott’s was surreal, shapes have been in my life ever since my first lunch box in first grade.”
The continuing evolution of Millie’s body of work ensures that roles in projects for a company like Netflix, independent films, or international brands, will undoubtedly continue. “I’ve been very lucky,” Millie gleefully exclaims.