- Publish Date
- Saturday, 8 July 2017, 12:27PM
In 2015 I turned 21, left Shortland St and bought a ticket to LA. Twenty-one is the minimum legal age for drinking in California, so that was a bonus, but the best thing was that, for the first time since I was 16, I wasn't bound to the Shorty schedule. I'd been on the show for most of my teens and had never had much freedom, so it was very exciting.
It wasn't that hard deciding to leave. I felt like I had learnt all that I needed to learn in that building, and I had saved a bit of money and wanted a new challenge. I wanted to continue to act but do something new. But it was still scary going into the producer Simon Bennett and saying the words out loud. I'm not very good at things like that. He took it really well - as a producer he was upset but, as Simon, he thought it was a good idea. I had a lot of believers in my life supporting me.
It was all a bit daunting. I knew it didn't make sense to leave a full-time job and hope for something in Hollywood. But because of playing Ula on Shorty I was quite a recognisable face in New Zealand, so I wasn't sure how easy it would be to get work here. Going to Hollywood seemed like a genius idea.
I stayed on a friend's couch for about a month, then roamed around on Airbnb.
The easy part was getting an agent. Then you have to prove yourself. I got to do a few auditions and got good feedback and quite a few call-backs but no yes-es.
It was scary going to the auditions - there are 20 or 30 girls, who all look pretty much like you. You just have to remember that you are all different and all have something to offer. The parts at that time were always The Young Girlfriend of Somebody or the mixed-race sassy girl at school.
It was fun and exciting, but I ended up only spending two and a half months there because I had to get a visa and all that.
I came home, and that was a reality check. I moved back in with my mum. I had a lot of self-doubt and spent a lot of time being unsure and scared of this whole big, bad industry.
Then I spent some time in Australia, begging my uncle, who ran a hotel to let me work for him. I was being dramatic about not wanting to act any more.
But he thought I should continue doing the acting.
And then I got a role on [Australian women's prison drama] Wentworth, which was just what I needed. I went in like a sponge and absorbed as much as I could.
I needed to have that year. It was really character building. I'd been in a little safe haven at Shortland St. All of a sudden I was on my own and had to figure it out. I still have doubts. I still have moments when I think: "Do I deserve to be here?" Then I have the other days, when I think: "I've worked hard to be here and it's great."
Source: NZ Herald.