For me, 2019 has been really focused on writing a number of projects for film and tv and building rapport with business mentors with whom I will execute these ideas. My arrival in London is due to extensive professional commitments. I am really excited about the exploration of film and tv in a different cultural context. This is my first trip living in London and the feeling of being out of my comfort zone always excites me to do my best work. I still have a base in the US and in Australia so there will be a lot of travel in 2020.
I remember when I graduated from drama school in Australia, a senior agent came to me and said: “You are very talented but you won’t get work here, Australia wouldn’t know what to do with you” obviously already having classified me as an “ethnic” actor due to being born in Croatia. I remember vividly that moment really broke my heart. Australia is my home and a country that likes to celebrate multiculturalism but sadly, those values are not portrayed in Australian popular culture. I moved to Los Angeles after that and launched my production company knowing I will have to give it a robust fight to longevity in the industry. But it was my passion on the line and I was and still am determined. After living and working in the US, It is only recently that I have come to my home base in Australia. There has been some improvement but as an over-achiever, Australia hasn’t provided a base for me to nurture and develop my talents. I am often frustrated by the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ - whilst America celebrates their icons and considers their over-achieving ethic of celebrating individual success as a positive, Australia often likes to criticize the ‘model’ individual. I just don’t understand it and it’s hard to grow in an environment like that. There have been some audits on diversity in the Australian screen sector, conversations have started which is always a step in the right direction. I am definitely seeing some improvement where Executives understand that in order to survive and build larger audiences, they need to create films and shows that are part of the global playing field which means casting global talent. Diversity and representation need to be paramount and agents and casting agents are catching up - it is my role as an artist to be disruptive and critical of the mainstream and this comes with great responsibility.
Do you feel content in your work or do you feel you need to still prove yourself?
I’m never content. The sparsity of my goals are super wide and I’m always striving for the betterment of my own accord.
I don’t feel that I need to prove myself to others, but to myself. I am highly motivated and I measure my success on my own principles. If I go into any meeting, especially as an actor delving into the writer’s or director’s vision, I never go into any situation seeking validation; I am completely confident of my competence as an artist and know my level of commitment and professionalism is at the absolute highest level, I am very hard on myself. I don’t take on a project unless I know I will give it my best and perform at the highest standard - From a team perspective, I do think the chemistry needs to be right, there has to be a sense of “falling in love” with the team and the material to explore - if for any reason I don’t end up being cast in a project, I am always grateful for the opportunity to be considered but I don’t dwell on anything too long and my attitude has always been: it’s really their loss, not mine. There is a greater sense of power obviously running my own production company knowing that if somebody doesn’t hire me, I have the ability to do own work. Part of the reason I took my destiny into my own hands is also by exploring the power dynamics in the film and tv industry - a lot of the projects I was auditioning for just didn’t gel with me from a political or moral standpoint - I emerged once again frustrated by the stereotypical portrays of primitive female depictions - I knew the only way to navigate the industry was to take a firm hold of my career and go with courage. So I empowered myself having the confidence to believe in my own potential and this is what makes me a Hero.
What do you think about the social media generation?
I think social media can be utilized as a fantastic branding and marketing business platform, I utilize it only professionally. I’m not really that reliant on it.
As a public figure, it’s constant to be in the merit of public perception. On a positive note, there can be that direct link with fans to promote work or causes you are passionate about and it’s immediate and authentic.
What I have however discovered is the more prolific I become, there can be a lot of online hate by people I have never met and all of the hype is really people’s projection of their own insecurities so no false fabrication of what perception I stir up online actually affects me. Don’t presume you know me just because I have an online social media account and a public profile.
I recently attended a film industry panel and an actress was saying how she really needs this validation and the likes on her social media posts. Personally, I don’t understand that as I don’t think likes on a post account to an accurate measure of self-worth. I’m not really that affected by it all. My sense of self-worth is entirely individual and developed due to my high self-awareness accredited to my strong core and value foundations due to my upbringing. My sense of self-worth is not dictated by outside influences and I prefer to meet and connect with people face to face and form genuine relationships. I prefer the depth and quality of interactions. I hope to contribute culturally through my work and utilize my celebrity towards activism pursuits. I’m not that active on social media as my focus is on my work and I am at my best when I am immersed in the world of cinema.