“For me, the key to transitioning from Melbourne to the US and the UK has been to surround myself with artists whose work I respect and admire.” – Natasha Dewhurst
This month, Casting Networks’ Theatre Angel speaks to Australian actress Natasha Dewhurst who gives her 5 Top Tips for an International Career. Fresh out of LA and in London, Tashi explains how her Australian theatrical training together with her international experience has helped her embark on an exciting global adventure.
Theatre Angel: Natasha, huge congratulations on your amazing success with Loserville, April Flowers, Full Circle, and The Vapour Boys! As a Melbournian by birth, how did you make the transition from local to international projects?
Natasha Dewhurst: I received the majority of my training in New York. By doing so, I established a wonderful network of friends and artists who consisted of fellow actors, writers, directors, and musicians. These are various opportunities and projects that came out of these friendships, which lead me to my fantastic representation. It creates a ripple affect leading to meetings/auditions/roles, which continues to ripple out.
In London, I am so fortunate that one of my oldest and dearest friends is a brilliant actor. We both help one another with self tapes, and offer our advice to each other with roles and work. So for me the key to transitioning from Melbourne to the US and the UK has been to surround myself with artists whose work I respect and admire.
TA: You trained in the US at the NYU School of Arts and Stella Adler Studio of Acting, as well as in the UK at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and in Australia at the Victorian College of the Arts. Were there any culturally stylistic differences with respect to the training and foci amongst the three countries?
ND: I found that each school – and even each teacher in the individual schools- has their own unique style of teaching and take on technique. However, they all are working to achieve the same thing: a truthful performance. Stella Adler taught me to trust myself and helped me to technically release my voice. RADA taught me how to trust the writing to do the work and use the language to find emotional truth. NYU helped me to be brave in my choices. Finally, VCA was my first real exposure to formal training; it was there I fell in love with the craft.
I feel so lucky to have had such a range of inspiring teachers and to have been exposed to so many different techniques. I really enjoyed my training and think it supplied me with a wealth of tools that I now use at my discretion with each different project and character that I encounter.
TA: How do you manage juggling the international demands of switching different accents/dialects along with the organisation required for travel and self tapes?
ND: I feel really fortunate to get to have such an international experience within this industry. It is such a privilege to get to audition and work in different countries and to meet new actors and artists in each new place. I rely heavily on the networks I established at the different schools I have trained at as well as friends I have met on various jobs. They help me with everything from self-taping to negotiating public transport. And, of course, I am always happy to get to repay the favor when they are in my neck of the woods!
As far as dialect and accent work goes, that is so much fun! I love that element of the work. I find it offers a unique way into character. Every time I get to learn a new dialect, I get so excited. I become quite nerdy researching the different quirks and regionalisms. Such a treat!
“Theatrical training taught me so much … the importance of ensemble, the rehearsal process and techniques”
TA: How has your theatrical training helped you with respect to your screen projects?
ND: Theatrical training taught me so much, but there are two specific things that have been invaluable to the film projects I have done. The first is the importance of ensemble. I inadvertently find myself relying on the cast and crew on set in the same way I do my ensemble in theatre – create a little family full of personal jokes and respect so that there is a safe space to work. The second is the rehearsal process and techniques I learnt at acting school. This brave and joyous approach to work that was encouraged at Stella Adler makes me excited to collaborate with the actors and directors on set and keeps me feeling excited and fresh even if we are 30 takes in!
TA: What are you currently working on that we can look forward to?
TA: What have been your career highlights thus far and where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
ND: Honestly, I know it sounds a bit sugar-sweet, but so far all the projects I have done have felt like a highlight and I cant wait for what the next highlight will be!
TA: You’ve been away from Australia for a long time now – to what extent do you still feel an Australian identity as an actor? Do you feel there is a community of Australian actors in the States and UK that fellow Aussie actors can plug into?
ND: I really love working overseas, but I think of myself as an Australian actor working internationally; I don’t think that will ever change even if I never return home. There is a unique Australian expat community that has been present in every place I have ever lived- although they are not exclusively actors, which I think is nice. Just a mixed bag of lollies of different professions, and ages, and reasons to live overseas. I love them and feel so lucky to be a part of it. They always have a couch to sleep on and a solid coffee spot recommendation.
“You never know, there may be the perfect role for you being cast somewhere you are no longer living, but by staying in the loop and maintaining those relationships, you can throw your cap in the ring.”
TA: How important is it to be aware of other industry professionals’ news – casting directors, producers, and directors?
ND: It has certainly always been very important to me to be aware and keep up with the different industries. I am so curious, love to know what everyone is working on, and what is coming up, so I suppose it stems from that. And you never know, there may be the perfect role for you being cast somewhere you are no longer living, but by staying in the loop and maintaining those relationships you can throw your cap in the ring.
TA: Acting can feel like an isolating business at times. Do you have any advice with regards to how actors can plug into the industry and work more as a community with other industry professionals?
ND: Yes, it can be; I find that to be especially evident in LA and I think that is because it isn’t really a “walking city,” so you can feel cooped up in your room. My way to combat that loneliness is to get out of the house, whether it is to go to a cafe and read a book, take a yoga class, or go see a play, you might meet a new friend or bump into someone you know – the world is so bleeding small now! I find it also helps to make yourself a routine, especially if you are going to be somewhere a while, but have a lot of down time. And finally, reaching out to friends you know in the area or asking friends you do have if they know anyone they can introduce you to – I’ve met so many of my close friends when I was alone somewhere and someone recommended we meet for coffee.
TA: Lastly, what are your 5 Top Tips for Australian actors achieving their dreams by working in the US and UK?
1. FIND YOURSELF YOUR FAMILY AWAY FROM HOME
2. SEE AS MUCH THEATRE/FILM/ART AS POSSIBLE
3. DON’T BE SCARED TO CONTACT PEOPLE COLD
4. WRITE THANK YOU NOTES
5. PAY IT FORWARD