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Johnny Carr: An Actor’s PROFILE

While it might be expected that acclaimed and award-winning actor Johnny Carr would be used to the attention usually given to actors, his self-effacing and humble nature would suggest otherwise. Deservedly nominated for the NYC Web Fest Award as Best Actor for his performance in the series ‘The Greatest Love of All’, the Newcastle native brings a salt of the earth quality not only to his performances but also to any interaction, reminding our editorial team that Australian actors are, indeed, almost always likeable. 

Carr, as shot by the legendary photographer, Sally Flegg.
Carr in the acclaimed series, ‘The Greatest Love of All.’

Carr, who’s featured in a raft of universally loved Australian series, plays and films, was buoyed by the success of the production which was also nominated for Most Outstanding Writing for a Web Series and won Best International Web Series. The latter prize was something that to this day is attributed to the starring performance of Carr, who in large part carries the heart of the series.  

In the show, Carr effortlessly makes his own sense of comedy through sarcasm, connecting with the audience in the process in surprising ways. The value he places on the production runs through the screen, making clear that Carr is an actor who exceeds the expectations of the character he plays in unique and exceptional ways. 

Most memorably, Carr showed how he has some of the best comedic chops in Australia, during a sequence when he is drugged at a house party by his housemates as a sort of emotional kaleidoscope, but he performs it with such precision that it’s a disturbing climax that veers towards the painful (for the viewer, not just the actor). 

Title card for ‘The Greatest Love of All.’

‘The Greatest Love of All’ was also selected for the Miami Web Fest, recognized for being a new kind of film festival for a new kind of filmmaker. The critical acclaim the series attracted is not unsurprising given the success Johnny went on to find in other productions like his memorable role in Channel Ten’s ‘Five Bedrooms’ or Channel Seven’s ‘The Secret Daughter,’ but is fascinating when considering ‘The Greatest Love of All’ was not originally conceived as the high-profile series it became, but a director’s humorous attempt to share a story about the aggressive level of hospitality that is present in Australian domestic life. And how their laid-back nature can often contain macabre undertones.

Carr showed great range by jumping into Channel Seven’s popular drama, ‘The Secret Daughter,’ after his turn in ‘The Greatest Love of All.’

Even more fascinating? Carr’s versatility – later proved with award winning stage roles – that was foreshadowed in his proven capacity to adapt his emotional truth to the most dramatic or emotional scenes and situations, moving the viewer in an empathic  way despite the series being a comedy. 

As legendary theatre critic Suzy Wrong wrote in a review for theatre production The Real Thing, “In the role of Henry is the sensational Johnny Carr, bringing a startling truthfulness to dialogue that could very easily be turned, under the wrong hands, highfalutin and empty. The actor’s presence and timing have us captivated, as we find ourselves enraptured, deeply invested in the many meaningful discussions that provide the foundation for an admittedly bourgeois narrative.” 

Carr on stage during his acclaimed performance of theatre production, ‘The Real Thing.’ Photo by Lisa Tomasetti.

Other industry professionals share the same sentiment, explaining how Johnny has the power of making the viewer believe that nothing happens despite the scene clearly showing the world spilling around him, representing an incredible handling of his performance in front of a camera and his innate talents. 

Were it not enough that Johnny is being featured in our pages today, he’s already attracted the attention of other journalists for many years in Australia who have followed his tremendous work and artistic edge for over a decade. 

In an interview with ‘Arts Review Australia’ Carr was asked who inspires him and why. He responded “people who aren’t afraid to look foolish. The ice-breakers. They allow others to follow suit.” This simple but thought-provoking answer seems to echo his character choices. He appropriates it for the stories and brings it to life with ridiculous, funny, humorous and animated scenes. 

Johnny’s other work reveals the soul of an artist. One that stands out is film ‘Happy Memories’, a production directed by John Tummino.

Here a huge duality appears in contrast to the comic performance mentioned above. Carr plays one of the leading roles, Michael. Together with the actress Laura Wheelwright, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated Animal Kingdom, Carr brings deep and affecting insight to a story about grief and loss in a farming community.

Carr in the revered film project, ‘Happy Memories.’

Johnny’s performance in ‘Happy Memories’, especially in contrast to ‘The Greatest Love of All’, proves his dexterity. His mysterious choices in sequences and moments lead any viewer to wait for glimpses of insight. Carr’s brilliance lies in his capacity to conceal his emotions but not block the audience from connecting with the story – true to the notion that humans and great actors try not to feel, but the average actor is concerned with feeling and how they are doing themselves. 

Carr showed a different side and aspect of his range as an actor in ‘Happy Memories.’

It is such a demanding task to eemit far-reaching sensations and leave a memorable impression through a cryptic character, that Johnny described this challenge in the following terms. 

“[I]t was a balance to play a character whose reality is in question throughout the piece. How to rapidly create that depth of family history whilst keeping the lightness of touch required to serve his buoyant energy,” Carr explains.

Carr, who is attached to a number of exciting projects shaping up for 2021, is excited to continue in showing the world his talents – not for self-promotional reasons, but because of a genuine passion for sharing insights.

“[I’m excited about] stories that search for meaning in the most mundane, absurd circumstances. We do this day to day. Otherwise what’s the point of it all? It’s simpler to find it in places of grandiosity. But what about the minutiae? It’s just as rich if we squint and consider.”

‘The Marshes’’ and ‘Home and Away’s’ Sam Delich: An Actor’s Life During COVID

The superfluation of content and stories about adapting and pivoting to life during COVID-19 is such that any story highlighting it as a point of difference has become a cliché. 

Taking a unique spin on the story however is a profile of Australian actor Sam Delich, acclaimed star of horror hit The Marshes and Home and Away, currently filming a slew of projects in the midst of the pandemic (and associated frequency of on-set testing and masks) and about to head over to the US in the coming months for a few more. 

Suffice to say the actor’s blessed during a time when the global industry has been decimated with jobs lost and productions cut short – hence why our editors wanted to profile the actor to determine why thinks he’s been lucky enough to maintain a firm mindset and consistent opportunities when few others are. 

Sam in press-mode at the Heath Ledger awards before COVID-19 reduced the number of red-carpet events worldwide. Below, shot in Sydney.
Sam Delich shot by Sophie Jay.

“The work itself is what drives me,” Sam begins. “[A] good script, good story and a full day of shooting and I’m a happy camper. I’m easily pleased some would say. It’s been tricky with productions shutting down during covid…It’s nothing compared to what many people are dealing with on a global scale.  But I really do think in times of crisis people turn to entertainment as a means of not only escapism but a chance to hear voices of those affected by the issues we all face.”

Sam’s commitment to story is apparent when reviewing his filmography and presence on screen, since he stepped onto the stage playing the vengeful Laertes in the acclaimed final graduating WAAPA production of Hamlet, directed by the AACTA nominated John Sheedy, or on the set for magical realist drama film Back to Earth, which co-starred Spartacus’ star Tom Hobbs (also known for appearing alongside Oscar-winners Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in The Railway Man). 

In that film, the surrealist scenario involving the resurrection of his dead brother for one more night on earth would have had any actor oscillating between tones and tropes.

Sam’s handling of the material in the character of Lou however, in moments where he effortlessly expresses unbridled sentimentalism and pure joy, all the way down to deep grief in truly affecting moments, is a clear manifestation of Delich’s ability to suspend any qualms about believability and serve story in a way that very few actors can. He, in the words of co-star Tom Hobbs is truly a “[r]are breed of talent. He’s unafraid. It’s a pleasure working with someone who constantly throws fresh ideas out during scenes. It keeps you on your toes. He’s made me a better actor that’s for sure.”

Sam’s performance clearly resonated with producers and industry decision makers, helping secure Back to Earth’s distribution with ABC iView Australia and its 3 million users. 

Sam (center) in ‘Back to Earth’, its international success on the film festival circuit a product of his empathetic performance.

Successes such as this are irrelevant to an actor of Sam’s caliber however, as not long after that production he stepped onto the set of horror film The Marshes. Reviews at the time of the film’s release frequently highlighted Sam’s gripping and truly committed performance.

When looking back at the film through the lens of what Delich is currently accomplishing in the midst of a year that many have described as real-life horror, Sam’s uniqueness as an actor is even more apparent.

In one moment Sam’s character Will has to hear the news that his friend has almost certainly been brutally slaughtered by the terrifying spectre that haunts them, all the while needing to make the rapid decision to run into the unknown marshland or stay and fight tooth and nail for survival.

“That was a bloody hard day,” Sam explains. “It’s a pivotal scene and required everything I had in the tank. Accessing emotion has never been hard for me but to perform in that environment tested all of us….After all the tears and yelling were done thankfully we were all able to shake it off and have a laugh,” Sam adds with a smile.

“I will never forget my co-star Eddie Baroo (Australia, Wolf Creek) getting stuck waist deep in the mud. He kept asking for help but nobody could stop laughing. You always remember day’s like that.”

Sam starred in the horror hit, ‘The Marshes.’

The extremities of The Marshes may have been demanding, but pushing himself to the limits of filming in the Australian outback in high-heat must’ve made subsequent appearances a breeze, as Delich’s on-screen appearances thereafter are truly easeful. In Home and Away, for instance, where Sam’s portrayal of Mark sees him pursuing the affection of acclaimed actor Sophie Dillman’s ‘Ziggy’, Sam balances charm with an underlying edge that hooked viewers at the time and is frequently cited upon as a critical moment in the self-actualisation of Dilmman’s protagonist. 

“I remember the moment where the audience was going to realise my intentions were a little more sinister. Grabbing Sophie’s arm and saying “Where do you think you’re going?” After playing a charming surfer for every other scene was fun. Sophie kept saying between takes “I wonder if girls watching will still think you’re cute.”

Sam made a memorable appearance in the award-winning drama, ‘Home and Away.’

Clearly Sam likes to keep the viewers guessing.

With all these memorable appearances considered, Sam’s success is unsurprising. Like most actors, it’s been a long-road but consistency and discipline over many years obviously has a cumulative effect which has attracted directors, casting agents and producers seeking to collaborate with Sam in a manner that, in hindsight, seems like an inevitability. 

At the end of our conversation, Sam echoed a sentiment that borrowed from Al Pacino’s character in Any Given Sunday, one that will undoubtedly resonate not just with actors reading this but anyone in need of inspiration during what has undoubtedly been a challenging year.

It’s a game of inches”: You just gotta get bit by bit over the line and eventually you have an opportunity to score. Sometimes work comes easy, sometimes you gotta hustle. The industry is always trying to blitz you. Outsmart it and find the play that is going to get you to the end.”

Screen starlet Mia Challis on her new series shot COVID-style

Mia Challis filming her new series, ‘User Not Found‘, under COVID-19 mandates

Perth-native Mia Challis sits casually behind a Zoom call, mid-story, when her phone buzzes. 

Although it interrupts the flow of our conversation and the hilarious she was recounting from her time on-set of the upcoming series, ‘User Not Found’, she elegantly picks up the phone, jots down a note, and picks up the story seamlessly from where she left off. 

“That was my US manager – she keeps me very busy,” Mia politely chuckles. 

The ease with which Mia continues the conversation, simply focused on engaging with our team of editors personally versus promoting herself, is a testament to the genuineness of her down-to-earth nature. The former athlete holds herself with the confidence of a young Uma Thurman or Nicole Kidman – their shared height a physical embodiment of the stand-out quality of this hard-working actor. 

“Even though I’ve been compared to actresses like that, which lends itself to an interesting set of roles, I tend to think more about stories I’d like to play in, rather than actors whose careers I’d like to emulate.”

Such assertiveness, blanketed by a curious dexterity, has been entrenched throughout the filming process for her new series User Not Found, in which she plays the starring role of Kate. 

While she was filming the Netflix thriller series Clickbait up until recently, alongside Entourage star Adrien Grenier, COVID naturally halted the filming of nearly all productions all over the world. Perth, Australia’s most isolated city, enjoys the safe benefit of having zero cases. It’s this safety which has afforded her new opportunity in filming User Not Found

While most actors are lucky to spend time on set alongside one big name in their entire career, Challis seemingly floats between high-caliber sets with ease, joining forces with fellow Aussie stars Mel Wozniak (ABC’s Itch) and Cooper van Grootel, who recently joined the cast of highly-anticipated NBC/Peacock series One of Us Is Lying. 

“My cast mates and I are all from Australia,” Mia says with a smile, ” so it’s nice to have this home base, no matter how long we are all away from it’s great to know that we all have a network of like minded people back home.” 

Mia Challis and Cooper van Grootel (Netflix’s ‘Go’) reviewing their scripts in between takes on the set of ‘User Not Found.’

Indeed, Mia knows this well, as she spent a period of time meeting with producers and filmmakers in Vancouver.

“Having a place like Perth to come back to and reset after intense periods of working in other parts of the world is a blessing”

In User Not Found, Mia plays psychology student Kate Andrews, an ambitious overachiever focused on her career who prefers her studies over university parties. The introverted nature of Kate, and the character’s lack of socialisation and experiential blindness, means she leans into trusting people most others wouldn’t. Suffice to say, it leads Kate – and Mia’s performance – down a dark path. 

“It’s dark, but it’s real,” Mia elaborates. “People in today’s world can be too trusting on social media and playing overly trusting character like this made me realise how often stories like this happen.”

Earlier on in her career, Mia enjoyed time on set alongside award-winning Aussie actress Jessica Marais in the feature film Two Fists, One Heart. The break from screen acting after this critical appearance, during which she focused on schooling, and theatre productions like Pride and Prejudice in the lead role of Elisabeth Bennet and Chicago, in which she took on the iconic role of Velma Kelly. Those experiences more than adequately prepared Mia with insights into pursuing excellence and being an overachiever herself. 

“I was more of a theatre buff at school, so although I didn’t study psychology like Kate, I definitely know what it’s like to have tunnel blindness when it comes to pursuing lofty goals.” Mia continues, occasionally interrupting her answers with relatable commentary over Zoom ensuring that I’m interested in her story. A contradiction of sorts – Mia is indeed a star, but a relatable one at that.

“I didn’t have a clue on how to become an ‘actor’,” Mia admits ,”so I would spend my weekends reading plays, watching movies and trying to understand the industry.”

This duality of personality – Mia is at one an extrovert and also perfectly comfortable being a homebody – is precisely the rare and one-of-a-kind nuance that has informed many of Mia’s performances. 

In the critically acclaimed film Memories, alongside award-winning actor Alistair Cooke, for instance, Mia has a scene where she is told her partner has been killed in a roadside accident. The moment prior to this she is seen laughing with friends, completely unaware, and the switch from laughing to crying in a matter of moments, upon seeing the police to deliver the tragic news is a masterclass in screen acting.

In highly-regarded film project Backstabbers, Mia portrays a character that is at the top of the school social hierarchy, her circle of friends are deadly, killing any students that get in their way. Towards the end of the film her character loses all control of her friendship circle, in the final scene, Mia’s character learns that she is in fact next to be killed if she doesn’t keep up her murdering antics. The complexity of her performance in the realisation of her character’s situation, suffice to say, is incredible and the final shot of the film is a close up on Mia’s face. The ending is left open to the viewers, and encapsulates the same type of nuanced performance that Mia presents as Kate in User Not Found.

Mel Wozniak, star of ABC’s Itch, speaks with enthusiasm and ease when asked about Mia’s status as one of Australia’s brightest talents. 

“Mia’s an incredibly supportive co-star – she’s a true collaborator and an incredible actor. Her work speaks for itself.”

Mia’s co-stars, Mel Wozniak (ABC’s ‘Itch’) and Cooper van Grootel, in the middle of a scene for ‘User Not Found’.

When Mia is questioned about filming, her response is true to nature – humble and work-focused.

“This particular filming process was a big learning curve for me,” Mia concedes. “I had never worked on a production that required moments of ‘Vlog’ style camera work, so when I was preparing for the role of Kate I watched hours of videos from famous YouTube vloggers so that I could understand that type of lifestyle.”

It’s unsurprising such fascinating insights into an actor’s preparation from this intelligent Aussie star – after all, its actors like Mia who make it look easy to play pretend in a social climate that craves new stories now more than ever.

Sarah Nasri: Behind the Scenes on her New Series

Sarah Nasri is busy in between scenes, wondering how she’s going to find time to get into character, and prepare for the other two scenes the producers of the upcoming series, Finding Home, plan to film later in the day.

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Sarah Nasri on set for her new series

“Set life is always hurry up and wait,” she offers with a smile. 

The Tunisian star, a globe-trotter since she was young, commands the space on set like any other leading lady before her. The difference now is that Sarah has had to manage filming in a COVID-19 environment, which presents new challenges all collaborators must overcome. 

For one, all actors must wear masks in between takes – creating problems for make-up and also representing another distraction actors must manage when getting ‘into the zone.’ 

An interesting anecdote from set, that perhaps would not have happened were it not for the prescribed COVID-19 mandates, concerned keeping the number of people in a closed place, restricted from one another.

“We had one actress scheduled for one scene during the first day of shoot,” Sarah tells us. “So to keep the people inside the apartment where we were filming, one of the PAs had to wait outside the filming set until we were done with the scene. It’s a little frustrating, but it also gives me a chance to explore the circumstances of the character in greater detail in between takes, so I don’t mind it.”

“Filming within COVID-19 mandates has meant it’s a little difficult to focus at times, because the producers are being so strict with maintaining stations and boundaries between crew and cast wherever possible, to ensure social distancing, but that in itself is an interesting challenge,” Sarah offers.

“I think sometimes external challenges on set are actually great in helping an actor focus – otherwise it’s easy to get complacent – the greater the distraction, the more effort I have to put into my story and what’s going to happen in the scene, but that ironically is something that can help make it more real.” 

Words of wisdom from an established actor, it’s no wonder that Sarah commands the attention of any viewer or producer. Also known for playing a frightful nun in Childhood Chills and Miss Roberts in By the Strings, on this production, Sarah enjoys another leading role in playing the character of Sofia. 

Sofia is a Colombian girl who moves from her home to America, facing the challenges of acculturation along the way.

“What I loved about playing Sofia is the ups and downs and all the happy and sad moments she has to go through in a short amount of time. She can be joyful during the day and extremely melancholic by the evening.

“Initially, I found [the fact that Sofia’s character is an introvert challenging, but throughout preproduction I grew to appreciate that aspect of the story more.”  

In addition to getting an insight into how Central American productions are resuming the filming process, our exclusive on-set visit also helped us get a true appreciation for the way in which fresh stories with an international focus are being made at an increasing rate. 

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National Geographic videographer Keith Ladzinski shooting The Birders in La Guajira Department, WhereNext’s feature documentary on Colombian bird diversity. Colombia has long been popular with international filmmakers for its landscape, but Sarah Nasri’s series speaks to how the country produces heartfelt character-based dramas. 

Everyone on set boasted an international pedigree of varying form and degree, creating a multifarious melting pot of cultures and different stories. One of the other actors is [Colombian] Nestor Sierra from Outlandish.”

Suffice to say, while Finding Home is ostensibly about a traveller, it is more about the search for home within oneself. 

Before she has to film and get make-up touches after taking off her mask, Sarah offers one final quote about the filming process.

“There’s nothing greater than creating life within life. During the filming process you get to transform into another character and experience emotions that you might not get the chance to experience in real life. It’s like living in a parallel universe. It also unites people and we all forget all our daily struggle, especially during Covid-19, and lose ourselves in the story we’re telling.” 

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Although she finds herself at home in front of the camera, Sarah Nasri enjoys getting lost in both character and story. Here she’s pictured behind-the-scenes on Finding Home.

SPOTLIGHT ON CREATIVES: Profile On Celebrity Makeup Artist Joanna Faivre

Most articles with creatives center on those in front of the camera, rarely  those behind it. Even then, it might be a feature with the director or powerful producer. In this sit-down though, our editors thought it was worth branching out to other crew who are as equally responsible for making a film or magazine shoot as distinct as the talent who become the faces of it. 

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Joanna Faivre is used to playing a leading part in what a magazine shoot looks like, but rarely is she used to being the subject herself! Shot here by Sarah Desti. 

For make-up artist to the stars Joanna Faivre, she’s quite literally responsible for composing those very faces which become synonymous with a cover, a movie poster or an iconic advertising campaign.

Typically, we only read about famous personalities and their jet-set lives but not often enough do we hear about the team that works in the background fixing, styling and putting together the looks that make the stars shine real bright. 

Posts on instagram of stars heading towards award shows or models on set of a shoot often read: “It takes a village.” This is where an artist like Faivre comes in. 

“I love bringing out a person’s natural beauty, and also maximising and leveraging their public appeal,” explains the French-born make-up artist.

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Joanna Faivre in action behind-the-scenes for a film shoot (photo by Sarah Desti). 

The talented makeup artist is full of original ideas and her enthusiastic personality is contagious upon meeting.. It comes with no surprise that over the years she has established her as one of the go-to makeup artists high-profile individuals and companies frequently hire. Among her notable credits are features in Vulkan magazine, campaigns for Maybelline, and the holy-grail of the fashion industry – Vogue. Faivre is known for delivering the ‘perfect’ look that is on point and suitable to the job brief. 

She confirms, “staying relevant is imperative to succeed in this industry and that means for me to keep up with trends in not only the beauty industry but also look beyond and educate myself on the latest products, fashion trends and ever changing taste-standards in various cultures.” 

It definitely takes a lot of expertise to become a bankable brand name in the beauty business. Honing her skills in the age of constant change and ever evolving beauty standards, the almost obsessive fascination and passion about the industry served her well with her international clientele. With an impressive roster of clients, the French makeup artist has been painting famous faces such as Grammy nominated American singer/songwriter Stokley William, Baptiste Giabiconi (French male model and face of Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld campaigns),  international models among them Eline Lykke, Fiona Briseno and Maud Lefort.

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A sample of some of Joanna’s more edgy work, a testament to how she has had to specialise her skillset to continue pushing boundaries in the photographic and creative industry. (photo: Margaux Rodriguez)

As mentioned, One of her career highlights was the photoshoot for an editorial spread in Vogue (Arabia edition). The shoot’s subject Haya Maraka put all her trust in Joanna and the results of the collaboration were incredibly tasteful. 

Another amazing experience for Joanna was the opportunity to work on an advertising campaign for Maybelline. After the pre-production meeting at the L’Oreal Office, the beauty expert created the entire looks – makeup and hair. “It was a delicate job because the campaign would run online on different social media platforms. I was honored the company put so much trust in my work and they were graciously relying on my creative vision.”

If one were to look at any of these photo shoots, it goes without saying that they literally would not be as impressive – from an aesthetic standpoint, or beneficial in serving the subject – were it not for Joanna Faivre’s involvement.

Joanna even has massive collaborations under her belt working together with big-name photographers such as Marie Rouge, Emmanuel Pampuri, Vincent Demarly and Ami Colberg. 

When asked what her secret is to her success, she explains that “as a makeup artist my role is to help the artist/singer/dancer during a show or actor during a movie making, not only in the way they look, but also help them go deeper into the character they have to play, by creating the according look. For a live performance, the human part is appreciated and most important to form the artist’s confidence. They need to feel they are well taken care of and it makes them more relaxed. Both my attitude and my makeup skills are important, the energy and human interaction before an artist goes on to perform.”

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Joanna is equally adept at creating elegant looks with an understated finish for clients of all backgrounds. Shot by Margaux Rodriguez.

Joanna’s one-of-a-kind portfolio combined with her positive attitude and kind personality have now opened new doors for her to take the next step in her already remarkable career. She is about to take on the American market as she will head to Los Angeles soon. There, she will get to offer her knowledge and apply her talent in upcoming commercial productions for top clients, including E-47 records and Talia Bella. 

“I am very excited about this new door opening for me, to be offered a path in the number one country in the world pushes me to be at my best. I am honored and fulfilled to have this career opportunity in the United States, I can’t wait to sublimate the talents that America has and show how passionate I am about it!

PROFILE: CAMPBELL GREENOCK Transitioning from an on-stage thespian to an acclaimed screen actor 

Born in Perth, Australia, Campbell Greenock quickly made quite a splash in on small and big screens not only in his home-country but also, now, in the North American film and television market. 

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Aussie talent Campbell Greenock shot by Sally Flegg.

At a young age, Campbell set his mind to becoming an esteemed actor who would focus on being well-trained refining his talent before eventually accepting on-screen roles. 

“I first discovered acting when I was about three years old. Me and my older sister, Scarlett, would put on ‘shows’ for our parents, dressing up and putting on funny voices. I think a part of me has known since then that this is what I wanted to do with my life.”

Since then, he followed the advice of Hugh Jackman (also a WAAPA alumni) “Say yes to everything.” Campbell really takes this advice to heart. You never know what is around the corner, but you shouldn’t say no to opportunities in the hopes that something better will come up. 

He studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), one of the world’s leading performance training institutions. It is recognized nationally as well as internationally for the quality of its alumni, including A-listers such as Hugh Jackman, Frances O’Connor, Marcus Graham, and William McInnes. 

After school he started his professional acting career in theater. Like Oscar-winning Australian actors before him – Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman – Campell mastered his on-stage performing skills before tackling a different medium. When asked about comparing acting in the different mediums, Campbell explains that training in theater truly doesn’t leave any room for mistakes. He goes on explaining “Stage actors have to memorize lines for the entire production and they don’t have the luxury of a director yelling cut in the middle of a scene to reshoot a moment the actor didn’t get right the first time.”

When asked about what theatre has taught him and how this experience shaped his acting style which undoubtedly informed his success that can be admired in the hit show Metro Sexual or the films Trembling Waves, and Pray.

“I believe my experience with the WA Youth Theatre Company is vital to my success on screen. In theater you have to be engaging every night, you can never let your performance become stale, so you are always looking to find the deeper truth. I always try to bring this to my film performances, and I hope that it helps my characters really connect with the audience.”

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Campbell performing in The Dreaming Hill, a production for the Western Australian Museum.

 

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Campbell was the star of The Dreaming of Hill, one of many theater productions which utilised his talents.

The actor certainly puts all his acquired experience into his memorable performance in the feature, Whiteley, in which Campbell takes on the lead in depicting one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, Brett Whiteley. The extremely successful film won 4 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. Also known as the AACTA awards, they are considered to be the Australian counterpart of the Academy Awards in the U.S. and the BAFTA Awards in the UK. The film also took home the Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) Award.

Whiteley is the youngest person to ever have his art acquired by the Tate gallery. His painting The Olgas for Ernest Giles became the most expensive Australian painting when it was sold at auction for 3.5 million dollars. Unfortunately, Whiteley developed a severe dependence on alcohol and heroin, his ‘muse’ Wendy Whiteley, with whom he had a daughter, divorced him. A storied life required an actor with the deep emotional bandwith to give him justice, and Campbell continues to attract praise for his work in the award-winning film. He appears as Whiteley in his 20s.

 

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Campbell as famed artist Brett Whiteley in the award-winning Whiteley.

Campbell talks about how he was given ample opportunity to research. “[His 20’s were] a pivotal time in Brett’s life, as it is when he was first thrust into the spotlight as an artist. I was given unprecedented access to Brett’s home videos and photos, as well as interviews with him. Being able to really embody that young carefree spirit that Brett had, and how it is lost down the track, is one of the most beautiful parts of the film, and without my vulnerability and innocence that was brought to the role, that vital theme would have been lost.”

Unsurprisingly, Campbell’s journey from stage to screen is now seeing his sights set on Los Angeles. He is attached to several U.S. productions, including one involving him filming in California. The role will call for him to use his well-rounded artistry. 

As his agents at Morrissey Management, one of Australia’s leading agencies expressed unwavering praise when asked about Campbell’s prospects and future. Simultaneously, they pointed to his willingness to continually evolve.

“I love to think of every time I am on set as an opportunity to learn. As an actor, I don’t think I will ever be finished developing my craft, and the best way to do that is to build on every experience. We must always push ourselves out of our comfort zone; that’s when actors deliver incredible performances.”

 

 

Thespian Profile: William Prescott

Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman have each been quoted on a number of occasions that their success on screen, and their award-winning performances, are attributable to their early careers in the theatre. And while it’d behove many young actors to follow their advice, it’s rare in today’s age to meet a successful TV or film actor who treads the boards much like Blanchett and Jackman, particularly with the current rise of Instagram and YouTube stars.

 

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William Prescott, as photographed by Julian Dolman.

 

This week’s feature about acting and craft is on Australian actor William Prescott, a commanding thespian originally from Melbourne who has come to show no signs of slowing down.

William represents something of an anomaly in today’s industry, as this actor – who started out in the Australian theatre scene in 2015 with his acclaimed performance in a Melbourne production of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” at Q44 Theatre and now commands a high-salary across many different mediums – proved his worth on the stage prior to his current success on screen, silver and small.

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A rehearsal shot from Q44’s production of Hurlyburly, in which William enjoyed a leading role. 

“Training in the theatre has been key to developing my skills across all other acting mediums. Theatre forces you to be in the moment. There are no retakes save for the following night’s performance.”

William, who received acclaim for his role as Phil, a suicidal bully, in a stage production of Q44s “Hurlyburly”, is adept at explaining in detail the benefits of acting on stage. 

“I went from fearing something going wrong during a performance – a spilled drink, a dropped line, a missing prop – to praying for it. These moments are often the most true (and still most terrifying!)”

When asked about what theatre has taught him, and how it has undoubtedly informed his success that can be seen in Netflix series Glitch, upcoming series The Next Big Thing and other shows like Movement and Beat Bugs, William is quick to keep bringing back his observations to the craft.

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William appears in multiple episodes of the acclaimed Netflix series, Glitch. 

“A lot of the time in TV for example, you need to create a relationship to your character and the world that character lives in very quickly, because you might only be doing one scene. Why are they here? What do they want? How can the other character(s) in the scene help them get it? If you can answer those questions, you’re halfway there in creating something real for the audience.”

In many ways it’s not a shock to learn of William’s success, as it’s to be expected that someone with such an ardent appreciation of art, as he shows, would want to have explored every facet of performance on his way to moving through the ranks to be among the top of the acting field in Australia.

“Hugh Jackman is a huge inspiration of mine. Of course he’s a fellow Australian actor but it’s the way he carries himself through the industry that I admire. He did a talk for us at 16th Street Acting Studios where I began my training. He was meant to be there for 45 mins and stayed for over 2 hours taking questions.”

William elaborates on the movie star’s generosity.

“He’s as generous and honest as you hope he’d be. At one point a student asked about whether he fears going to dark places for disturbed characters such as the one he played in Prisoners. He answered, “no, it should be FUN! I’m lucky that I GET to go to dark places and explore that side of myself” I couldn’t agree more…it kind of works like free therapy!

There’s a running joke from my acting friends that I think Hugh is my best mate because he gave a group talk once. I refer to this Q&A… a lot.”

William’s ability to speak articulately about other performers is as much a lesson in history as it is in acting, as he also offers great tidbits about those who cross between the comedy and acting fields.

“It’s no surprise to me that some of the greatest contemporary actors seem to have come from a stand-up comedy background. I did stand up for 2 years before I jumped into acting. There is honestly nothing more terrifying and vulnerable than being in front of a silent audience with one task – make them laugh. If you can survive that (and there were some bad ones) you can survive anything.”

William’s recent starring performances in the TV shows Glitch and The Next Big Thing are in many ways a culmination of his earlier work on stage, given how he effortlessly traverses between drama in Glitch and comedy in The Next Big Thing. As Cate Blanchett exclaimed when winning her Oscar for Blue Jasmine in 2014, her work in that film represented a synthesis of her time in the theatre, and William’s compelling work in the Netflix and other online hit shows reveal similar signs of a revered sense of acting.

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William delivers a hilarious performance in the impressive comedy online series, The Next Big Thing (aka TNBT).

Adding to his repertoire is William’s experience in voice work, as another leading Australian actor Hugo Weaving himself has suggested on many occasions, has granted William a reflexivity and adaptability on any set to keep filming past a 12-hour day.

“I’m really fortunate to regularly work as a Voice Actor in Melbourne. It’s a lot of fun and it teaches you to survive under high pressure set/studio environments. When you have 8 clients and a sound engineer staring at you through the glass and you’re on take 10  having not yet given them what they need, the voice in your head needs to be a supportive one – “breathe, take a sip of water, think about what you want to deliver in this next take and smash it”. 

William’s comedic work in series The Next Big Thing particularly showcases this remarkable skill.

“TNBT was a blast to film. It’s my first time playing multiple characters in Jeremy (an overly gentle, uncoordinated boxer) and Jack (an arrogant rock star with little to boast about). They’re kind of two sides of the same coin. It’s being produced by Bravada Films, directed by Dean Codrington. It’s basically been a huge improv fest and heaps of fun.”

William’s work is one of many examples from his career that shows why he’s now in demand by the US market. We’re quick to ask about his role in an upcoming project shooting in the US, and his strengthening relationships with an array of US producers. 

“I can’t quite give details just yet, but I’m very excited about that project.”

For this versatile performer, it’s a deserving reward for hard work done, and a sign for what’s to come.

“A lot of people ask me “how long will you give it? The acting thing?” My aim is just to stay in the game, any way I can. If I’m in it, I’m happier than if I’m out…Just so long as I’m a part of it somewhere, somehow, that’s a life win for me.”

Artist Spotlight: MTV Director Pete Ireland on festivals and filmmaking

Veteran Australian filmmaker Pete Ireland has enjoyed a career all over the world. Best known amongst industry insiders for directing and producing thousands of videos while working at MTV in London, Argentina and then the US, the innovative filmmaker recently joined the Los Angeles based company of Verve, a new sales platform targeted at millennials.

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Australian filmmaker Pete Ireland.

“It’s definitely challenging work but at its core it’s work I love because get to tell stories across so many different mediums from social to broadcast, my work at Verve lets me play with filmmaking in a unique way.”

As a company valued at 180 million dollars wanting to connect the media and entertainment industry with young trendsetters, it came as no surprise that Verve turned to Pete for his expertise and experience in the youth-branded content industry.

Pete is one of the few distinguished filmmakers who is capable of increasing company revenues as his innovative projects rake in millions of views effortlessly, which in return increases company visibility and revenue.

Early on, the award-winning filmmaker, whose narrative projects have screened at exclusive festivals in Europe and America, developed a reputation for using a left-of-centre style which conflated quirky set-pieces with bright and honest imagery.  

“I was obsessed with movies ever since I was young. I wanted to tell stories and discovered that film was the medium I wanted to do it with. I started with editing but quickly realised directing was where I could make the most impact. When I started my own company [The Production Room] in 2010, I did really have high expectations.” Pete continued with a laugh. “But still, I never imagined that I would be in this situation, talking to you guys 10 years later.”

Of course, Pete didn’t start at Verve with the same naivety that characterised his early beginnings.

In his new role in LA, he’s in charge of building a new creative standard across a wide variety of youth-focused travel, live music, event and festival experiences by producing, directing, and editing hundreds of promotional films and video campaigns.

“I have been doing exactly that for more than six years at the MTV International, and as a producer and editor for fifteen years before that.” He added. “I really admired Verve’s mission and I am excited to be helping build a brand that I know is going to be huge not only in the US market but globally”.

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As MTV has become more known for, and found greater success in its series programming, Pete has found a niche in the industry playing an incredibly important part in shaping the company’s reputation and visual aesthetic.

After he directed film projects Blueberry Lane with Sleepover actress Leisa Barry Smith and Breathless with Home and Away’s Esther Anderson, Pete’s ability to capture an audience’s attention and move them with humour was recognised by both film-lovers and big businesses.

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Pete and Home and Away actress Esther Anderson, who starred in his film Breathless, at the world renowned Bondi Film Festival celebrating the screening of their film.

“Pete has always been a master narrator who can tell stories from outside his own experience,” said prominent EVP of MTV International, Kerry Taylor when contacted to comment. “He always knows the right balance between storytelling and selling.”

Thrilled by the quality of Peter’s work, advertisements for MTV were also advertised through social media outlets such as Facebook as well as MTV’s company website, which in return increased company visibility by millions. Throughout Pete’s time with the network, he undoubtedly was responsible for the increase in ratings (and consequently, ad revenue) experienced by the programs on which he was a director. 

In the midst of his early days running his own film production company, Pete found particular success directing a number of high-profile music videos, laying a firm groundwork for his eventual role at MTV.

The highlight was his works for X Factor Australia winner Altiyan Childs and ARIA Music Award ‘Song of the Year’ winner Tim Freedman. 

“He really understood the message I wanted to convey with my music,” said Brendan Maclean. “Work with Pete was an absolute treat.”

Some of the music video work for which Pete is still well-known includes projects for hugely popular artists like Cub Sport and Eurovision contestant Kate Miller-Heidke, meaning that Pete’s directing efforts have been shown in arenas for their concerts all over the world, including at the renowned Splendour in the Grass music festival in Queensland.

It was no surprise therefore that MTV recognized Pete’s remarkable talents so they reached out to him in the midst of a his freelancing career. After his outstanding edits on promo films for MTV UK’s Geordie Shore, the company brought Pete on in a full-time capacity as a Senior Promo Producer and Creative. Three years later, he was handed the reigns of shaping MTV International’s brand across a range of mediums and channels, allowing him to flex the full range of his filmmaking muscles.

“Pete was a total package for us. Not only his creative ability, but also his leadership skills, attention to detail, and work ethic all contributed to our company,” said Kerry Taylor, Pete’s ex-boss at MTV.

Pete oversaw all promotional projects for MTV shows including Geordie Shore, Teen Mom, Catfish, Ex on the Beach, Judge Geordie, The Valleys, and many others. He worked all over Europe, mainly in London, and later in Argentina and New York, always executing work at the excellence for which he has become known, regardless of the city he was in or team of people with whom he was working.

Of course, a filmmaker’s career wouldn’t be complete without some experience in the City of Angeles itself.

“I felt called to Los Angeles, it was always the end goal for me. I’m excited to continue to explore more opportunities in different avenues of American filmmaking,” Pete offered.

He wanted to work with a company in a more hands-on capacity and work with it from the ground-up in its early stages of development. The role also permits Pete the freedom to pursue his own personal projects, including a number of projects in development including The Morning After Night. 

“This industry can certainly challenge you at times. No question. But I still have the same fire that I always had since the beginning of my career. I feel truly privileged to be able to do what I feel passionate about. I get to tell stories from many different perspectives and to be a part of worlds so different from my own. I absolutely love it, and I cannot wait for the next challenges.”

The Producer Working Outside the Box: Elliot David Hawker on Disney, Cruises, & Live Entertainment

Producers are usually understood to be the money-wranglers for feature films, or those people who talk a lot on the phone while on set. Elliot Hawker is a different kind of producer.

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Award-nominated producer Elliot Hawker photographed at his home in London.

It is one thing to be a part of producing events for Disney. Knowing your event will be judged by Simon Cowell is a whole other story. It takes someone who has experience in all realms of entertainment to pull off an event that will fulfil the magic of Disney and appease the scrutinizing eye of one of reality television’s toughest judges. Thankfully Elliot David Hawker has proven he is up to the challenge through his production feats with Disney, Royal Caribbean International, and PITT London, to name just a few.

Hailing from the UK, Hawker began his career as a dancer, receiving a prestigious 2:1 honors degree from Central School of Ballet. He spent the following six years at sea, gracing the stages of various cruise ships with Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Those aboard quickly noticed his commitment to a guest’s overall experience. His passion drove him in directions unlike those of his fellow cast members. Hawker took on additional roles in his company including Production Show Wardrobe, Events Producer, and Crew Welfare Representative. By pursuing more than what he was initially hired for, he was offered a coveted management position and became a notable leader on board.

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Royal Caribbean (their AquaTheatre pictured) are well-known in live events and theatre circles for producing shows of incredible grandeur, all at sea. 

“For me, putting on live events and experiences is all about creating magic. Creating moments that engage with people on a different level and allowing them to experience something special,” Elliot says with a smile.

“My passion for entertainment started from a young age, and after an amazing career being on stage, it felt so natural for me to transition into producing, and being able to channel my creativity and knowledge into making memorable and unique experiences of my own.”

This change in direction brought immense success to the productions, with respect to the uniqueness of their creative execution, and would only be the beginning for Hawker as his career as a producer took off.  

Following his years at sea, Hawker uses his cultivated understanding for production to create memorable experiences for the Walt Disney Company and its millions of customers. He continues to take on a variety of roles, each of which rooted in his business savvy and understanding of guest experience. As such, Hawker is a standalone example of a millennial who has carved out a specialty by becoming an innovative multi-hyphenate (a few prestigious awards along the way for his career accomplishments haven’t hurt).

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Elliot celebrating Minnie’s influence in Fashion & Beauty on National Polka Dot Day. An event produced by Elliot and the Disney Events team in London and hosted at Duck & Dry, London

“Working with Disney has been an absolute pleasure, and I have had the opportunity to travel all over Europe coordinating character events, which has included  everything from Set Dressing, Photoshoots, TV direction & Film premiers. I love that we’re truly creating magical and memorable moments, whether it’s a 4 year old meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time, or a grown adult meeting interacting with a  Stormtrooper on the red carpet. These are the moments that are really fulfilling.

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Hawker with Disney Marketing Project Manager Clare Moores in Dublin Ireland for Mickey’s 90th Anniversary, celebrating with children & families from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin’

 

From On Set Character Director of The Voice Kids Germany 2019 to Photography Director of the Mickey & Minnie Iconic Landmarks Photoshoot, Hawker brings his creativity and invaluable experience in live entertainment to many different kinds of events. The most reputable of these being those held for charitable causes.

One of Hawker’s most recent achievements took place in November of last year. Disney partnered with Myriad & Co Theatre Company & Together for Short Lives and Charity Patron Simon Cowell for The Nutcracker & The Four Realms Immersive Charity Gala.

“It was a spectacular night, full of Disney magic and storytelling all in aid of raising awareness and donations that will enable the charity to support and help families make the most of every moment together” (The Walt Disney Company, 2018).

When asked about what made Elliot so remarkable as a producer, Co-Founder of Myriad Theatre company Simon Evans pointed to how Elliot attracts universal praise.

“Everyone at Myriad & Co. was thrilled with his creativity and adaptive skills, and the project benefited hugely from his ability to create compelling choreography and staging with our dancers and actors within a sometimes challenging venue.”

Hawker produced various choreographed acts which immersed guests into “The Kingdom of the Four Realms” giving them a chance to interact and witness their personalities up close as the dining room magically transported guests through the realm of flowers, sweets, snowflakes and amusement.

Creating an intricate piece of immersive theatre in such a unique venue would seem an impossible task, and was a first for Disney, but Hawker was able to delicately choreograph and direct his cast of dancers, bringing the story to life in a magical experience of Disney’s latest rendition of the classic tale. Hawker’s striking blend of choreography and special effects were instrumental in the overall success of the charity event. The awestruck audience of A-List celebrities left the emotional evening having raised over £350,000 for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

“Choreographing for this event was a humbling opportunity to be involved in something bigger than myself,” Elliot modestly exclaimed.

“Our aim was to take the guests on a magical journey, telling a fantastical tale, whilst be able to shed light on the difficult lives of these children and their families.”

This event has been one of many you may see Hawker in action, alongside his award-nominated production of An Evening with Celine Dion Starring Tracey Shield and his work as Creative Director of hawker & travis, his own digital design agency in which he produces digital content including websites, logos & brand imagery, videography & motion graphics.

Since the start of his own company, the established producer was nominated for the 2018 WIX Stunning Design Award and continues to secure his prominence in live entertainment production that brings together his expertise and understanding of choreography, visual marketing, presentation and performance.

For those reading who are spoilt for choice when it comes to their career prospects, or feel like they need to pigeon-hole themselves to one role, Hawker’s accomplishments exemplify how one can create a career that blends a wide-range of passions under one roof. His producing career, now turning to the US to work with Spark Cooperative, has become one rooted in a passion for the arts and catalyzed by a dedication to creating fulfilling and imaginative experiences.

TV star Zara Michales on the Past, Present and Future

TV star Zara Michales has been a staple on Aussie screens for nearly a decade.

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Acclaimed actress Zara Michales, as photographed by Marnya Rothe

“I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunities I’ve had,” she says with a humble smile.

Most recently in the acclaimed fan-favourite Doctor Doctor, Zara made a huge impact in the developments of the season’s storyline, and managed to perfectly balance the comedic-drama tone for which the show has become known to Australian, European and US audiences via Amazon.

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Zara made yet another appearance on Aussie TV recently, this time on Channel Nine hit drama, Doctor Doctor. 

“With the role of Thomasina I was allowed to do what I wanted, character-wise, which was great because my character wasn’t your typical lawyer stereotype,” Zara offered.

Despite the fact she made only an appearance in one episode, Zara made quite the impact.

Indeed, Zara guides one of the leads Ajax (played by Matt Castley in the series) to change the course of his fate and ultimately help his family for the greater good.

Zara’s biting appearance in Doctor Doctor is just one TV appearance in a career of many.

The down-to-earth attitude with which she speaks to our editors would have any reader surprised that she’s a fan favourite amongst loyal Australian TV watchers, notorious for being reticent to embrace new talent.

Zara’s captivating screen presence however, most notably captured in her gripping performance as Steph Green on the hugely popular Home and Away, was undeniable to the fickle Australian public, and she’s been working on different genres ever since.

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Zara attracted mainstream attention for her role as antagonist ‘Steph Green’ in the award-winning favourite, Home and Away.

The character I played on Home and Away was a very controversial one that audiences did not forget.”

Zara played the very mischievous and rebellious nurse, Steph Green, who pushed boundaries in the world of ‘Summer Bay’ (where the show is set) and for the award-winning series itself.

During her time on the iconic series, Zara’s character befriended Dex and got up to no good with him at the hospital. After beginning as friends, bond turned into a volatile relationship that escalated into a series a dramatic plot-lines for which Home and Away has become best known.

“My character broke a couple of rules at the hospital – eventually she was confronted to clean up her behaviour and Dex broke up with because of it. She then spirals out of control and pushes boundaries to a breaking point which eventually sees her getting fired from Summer Bay Hospital and fleeing Summer Bay itself.”

Clearly, Zara’s time on the show was indispensably linked to the ups-and-downs of the town in which the show takes place, and without her characters’ antagonistic nature, the series wouldn’t have been forgiven by the audience. It goes without saying that, were it not for Zara, Home and Away would’ve been pretty boring.

“I just feel lucky I got to make such a fondly remembered contribution to Australia’s most loved show,” Zara adds.

No doubt Zara’s time on set was made even more memorable given she got to work alongside Matrix: Revolutions actor, and star of Oscar-winner Russell Crowe’s movie The Water Diviner, Robert Mammone.

“Robert is such an experienced actor was wonderful to work with – because of the fights our characters got in, you get really heated and worked up and invested in the scenes. So it goes without saying my experience on set was pretty miserable – in the best way possible!”

Of her many roles on Australian TV though, Zara’s quick to attest to the machine-like professionalism of Home and Away and how well everything worked together.

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Home and Away is well-known for capturing Australia’s beautiful scenery and iconic Australian citizens. Zara’s edgy performances and Greek heritage was therefore all the more noticeable and helped change the show’s tone for the better, which audiences have been relishing more than ever in the years since her appearance.

“Working on Home and Away was like being in a whole different world completely. The cast and crew worked like a family. Ray who plays Alf (who the longest running character in Home and Away) is an absolute gentleman.”

The other iconic Australian series in which Zara has also played an indisputably important character is Underbelly, the famed series chronicling the criminal life of Australian history. 

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Zara was featured front-and-centre as a part of the marketing and billboard campaign promoting Underbelly: Badness, further cementing her relationship with Channel Nine and her high-profile in Australia.

During her time on set, Zara shared screentime with Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow actor, Matt Nable.

“Matt Nable was very focused and committed actor on set,” Zara is quick to proclaim.

“I enjoy working with people like that who are focused and passionate. It just makes my job easy.”

What was perhaps less easy was the pressure Zara faced in playing such an important role in a high-profile show.

Indeed, the series hinged on Zara, who played Pippa, and Aaron Jeffery, who played her partner Frank, as Frank was the only person the police had to connect them to the killer at the centre of the season.

 

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Zara and her on-screen husband, played by Aaron Jeffery in a still from Underbelly.

Though reluctant at first to help the police, the safety of Pippa’s family is put first and Frank sides with the police.

Across a series of gripping and award-winning episodes, Zara’s performance and scenes with her family brought much of the humour and lightness to the show, as well as its emotional heart. One only has to watch a few key scenes to chuckle at the realistic portrayal Zara and Aaron brought to their characters’ marriage and how they’d bicker but love each other at the same time.

The acclaimed finale, which was written in last minute, closed in on the family Pippa and Frank always wanted in the pursuit of escaping the crime world.

In Zara’s words, it was a very memorable and beautiful closing scene with which to end the season, further cementing her place at the centre of Aussie TV.

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Zara, shown here at the premiere for Thor: Ragnarok, has been cast in a project shooting in the US. Readers will have to stay tuned for details. Photo: Getty Images.

So what’s the future to hold for this character actress-turned-household name? Zara’s tight-lipped, but was able to reveal she’s been cast in a US feature, to be shot in America.

“I’m very excited – stay tuned.”