Holly’s Heroes: characters

Dominique Crawford as Holly McKenzie

Fifteen year-old Dominique Crawford was born in New Zealand and lives in Auckland with her family. Despite her youth, Dominique has been acting for several years, with previous credits including the New Zealand television shows Jackson's Wharf and Mataku, the latter earning her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 2003 AFTA TV Awards.

Like her on-screen alter ego, Dominique is a keen sportswoman who plays high level netball, touch rugby and basketball. Her sporting ability combined with her acting talent made her a natural choice for the role of the basketball-loving Holly McKenzie and was the culmination of a major talent search throughout New Zealand.

Holly McKenzie

Unlike Holly, Dominique didn't have to move from a big city to a small town, but she did have to relocate to Melbourne for the six-month shoot, where happily the cast and crew were a lot more welcoming than the students at Woolich High!

"Dominique is a fantastic young actor," enthused set-up director, Roger Hodgman. "I was instantly struck by her wonderfully warm, open, responsive quality. She's a complete natural. You don't get a sense that she's acting, but a sense of her just being the character, and the camera loves her. I think she's going to be a big star."

Kane McNay as Nick Fraser

Casting Nick Fraser was challenging. A 'bad' boy with a rebellious past, he's a character that tends to play victim. Finding a performer who could portray that level of complexity was difficult, but as producer Ann Darrouzet recalled: "When Kane screen-tested, he was Nick. He had the look we were after, and imbued the character with the depth and nuance that was needed."

Kane is one of Australia's most promising young actors and the recipient of an Australian Film Institute (AFI) award for Best Young Actor for his searing portrayal of a disadvantaged youth in the 1999 feature film Mallboy.

With credits already spanning several years, his performance slate includes roles in some of Austalia's most watched television dramas including It Never Rains, The Last of the Ryans, State Coroner, Seachange, Blue Heelers and Stingers, along with the children's program Blabbermouth & Sticky Beak.

Nick Fraser

After two years' exile the 'bad boy' of Woolich is back. With a moody demeanour and a reputation for having burned the community hall to cinders, Nick is nobody's favourite teen, in particular Coach Peterson.

But all Holly sees is a boy who needs a friend… and a good basketball player going to waste.

And if playing for the Outlaws is going to irritate Peterson and his son Joel, Nick's all for it. He's also a talented painter and channels his inner emotions into his art.

Greta Larkins as Jacinta Peterson

Greta plays Holly's best friend Jacinta Peterson. "Jacinta has arguably one of the most interesting journeys," reflected Greta. "Coming from a family that revolves around basketball, which doesn't greatly interest her, she's considered the 'less' important child. And unlike her brother Joel, whose life has already been mapped out, she has to find her own path."

Greta's own path has set her firmly on an acting career. Having studied drama for seven years, she took the lead role of 'Tasha' in the children's series Guinevere Jones and has also appeared in the TV shows Short Cuts, Blue Heelers, Fergus McPhail and Scooter Secret Agent.

Jacinta Peterson

Jacinta is Joel's sister and Alan Peterson's daughter, and until Holly's arrival in Woolich that's pretty much how everyone, bar her grandfather Max, perceives her.

The opposite of her sports-loving brother, Jacinta adores maths and is indifferent to basketball, preferring a game of chess with her grandfather. However, friendship with Holly gives her the courage to stand up and be counted, and reveal a mean talent for shooting 3 pointers.

Michael Harrison as Johnno Walsh

Michael plays Johnno Walsh, Woolich's fledgling entrepreneur, who along with his best friend Ralph, likens to the 'Abbot and Costello' of Holly's Heroes.

Michael began performing through his school when he was in grade 3 and went on to study drama at the Victorian Youth Theatre. At just 16 he has already amassed several solid acting credits including parts in After The Deluge, Blue Heelers, State Coroner and the supporting role of 'Lambert' in Fergus McPhail.

He has also appeared in several short films for the Victorian College of the Arts, and in his spare time enjoys fishing, swimming and working with computers.

Johnno Walsh

Johnno's the kid with a million ideas… all for making money. If anyone from Woolich is going to be the next Donald Trump, it will be Johnno!

Together with his best friend Ralph, he dreams of going to California to see the LA Lakers play. With that in mind, he's always got a scheme on the go. Some work, some don't but Johnno, like Holly, is an eternal optimist who never gives up.

Jared Daperis as Ralph Owen

"Ralph idolizes Michael Jordon and dreams of one day playing for the Chicago Bulls," explained Jared Daperis, "but unlike his friend Johnno, he's a terrible worrier and always sees disaster around the corner."

Jared is something of an acting veteran, having been performing since he was just five. He first appeared in the whimsical children's TV series Lift-Off, which was quickly followed by television guest roles in The Man From Snowy River, Janus, Mercury, Violent Earth and The Order. He has also appeared in Stingers, Dogwoman, Halifax FP, Blue Heelers, Round The Twist, The Ponderosa and Ocean Star.

Aside from his on-screen roles, Jared appeared on stage as the Artful Dodger in Oliver! and as Nathan in The Full Monty, both for International Management Group (IMG).

Ralph Owen

Frustrated with spending all his time on the bench, Ralph defected from the Rams and joined the Outlaws, a move that old team mates Trish and Scubi don't let him readily forget.

Ralph has the potential to be a fantastic basketball player, if he could just overcome his performance anxiety long enough to play the game!

Jessie Jacobs as Emily Walsh

Petite Jessica Jacobs is a familiar face to young television audiences through her roles in Fergus McPhail (as Jennifer McPhail), series II of Saddle Club (as Melanie) and as Molly in Worst Best Friends.

In Holly's Heroes she plays Johnno Walsh's little sister, Emily, which leads her to becoming frequently embroiled in his money-making schemes!

In 1999 the then 7-year-old Jessica auditioned for an amateur production of The King and I, winning the role of Princess Ying Yolak, which gave her an appetite for performing.

The following year she featured as Marta in Gordon Frost's revival of The Sound of Music, which she subsequently followed with an appearance in The Whiter Brighter Bob Downe Christmas Show.

Along with acting, she enjoys ballet and has been studying the violin for several years.

Emily Walsh

Emily is Johnno's kid sister, and although devoted to her fast-talking brother, she's strong enough to stand on her own two feet, and more often than not helps him out of scrapes.

Aside from basketball, Emily loves ballet, and is inspired by Holly's marine biologist father Tony to pursue her interest in the ocean and become a Marine Cadet.

Ben Schumann as Franco Galluza

Fifteen year-old Ben, who plays the sweet but shy Franco Galluzo, has had guest roles in the television shows Blue Heelers and Noah And Saskia, and also appears in the upcoming feature film You And Your Stupid Mate.

Along with his fellow cast members, he has been studying drama for several years and, when time permits, enjoys football and playing the drums.

Franco Galluza

Franco is the 'rock' of the Outlaws; steady, dependable and considerate of those around him.

He also harbours a secret liking for Jacinta, which his shyness prevents him from expressing.

His unassuming demeanour often leads people to underestimate him, but Franco is a boy of hidden talents and a friend worth having when the going gets tough

Nick Colla as Joel Peterson

Outwardly Joel is the golden boy of Woolich — good-looking, popular and the Rams' star player. But appearances can be deceptive and over time Joel realises he's living his father's dream, but not his own. There's also the small matter of confronting his conscience over past actions, which left his friendship with Nick Fraser in the ashes of the community hall fire.

Happily Nicholas Colla, who plays Joel, doesn't share his character's problems. Seventeen-year-old Nicholas has been studying drama since he was knee-high and has appeared in numerous commercials, as well as TV shows such as Neighbours, Blue Heelers and The Saddle Club.

Like most of the show's young cast, Nicholas regularly plays sport, particularly football and cricket. But not having played basketball since he was eight, he trained hard, developing his defensive technique in line with Joel's particular basketball skills.

Joel Peterson

From an early age Joel has been placed on a pedestal by his father, who is determined that his son will succeed where he failed.

A naturally gifted player, he has an inherent arrogance fuelled by his position as the Rams' star player.

But Joel gradually realises that he's living his father's dream and not his own, and subsequently finds the courage to be his own man.

Virginia Ryan as Trish Jenkins

"Trish is a very motivated, competitive character," explained Virginia Ryan, the striking young actor who plays her. "She won't stop until she gets what she wants and if somebody's in her way, they had better watch out!"

Holly's Heroes marks Virginia's first major TV role, although she has been studying drama and performing in school productions and plays, such as A Midsummer Night's Dream and Shady Creek for the Victorian Youth Theatre for a number of years

Trish Jenkins

Until Holly's arrival in Woolich, Trish considers her life mapped.

The mayor's daughter, she's intent on being a professional basketball player and regards herself as 'prom queen' to Joel's 'prom king' — even if Joel doesn't quite see it that way!

Fiercely competitive, she resents Holly's arrival in Woolich, and with the help of her friend Scubi does her best to make life tough for the newcomer.

Stephany Avila as Eleanor Scubinski

"It's more fun playing somebody you don't relate to," laughed Stephany Avila, who portrays the mischievous, boy-crazy, Scubi, "because you discover a different side to yourself… and if you're mad that day, you can show it on camera!"

At 14 years of age, Stephany is one of the youngest cast members of Holly's Heroes, although in those few years she has managed to accumulate a wealth of performance experience — from modelling, drama studies, singing, dancing and gymnastics to countless roles in community and school productions.

She's also fluent in Spanish! Holly's Heroes is her television debut.

Eleanor Scubinski

As keen on boys as she is on basketball, Scubi is Trish's lieutenant and a ready participant in her friend's mischief.

Proud of her status as a member of the Rams, she's also not about to let Holly rock the boat.

Ever ready and equipped to put Johnno, Ralph, Franco or any other errant Woolich High School boy in their place, Scubi is the real doer of the Rams gang.

But remove the armour and Scubi may just have a soft centre- especially when it comes to love, and a secret passion for singing — you'd just never want to tell her that!

David Roberts as Coach Peterson

Coach Peterson is a driven man who considers winning to be the most important element of sport.

Having failed to emulate his father Max, a former professional basketball player, he has instead channelled his ambition through his son Joel, overlooking his daughter Jacinta in the process.

Like a stage mother, Peterson is oblivious to the dreams of his children, intent only on the latent fulfilment of his own dreams. He won't allow anyone to get in his way, particularly a forthright girl from New Zealand called Holly!

Coach Peterson

Coach Peterson is a driven man who considers winning to be the most important element of sport.

Having failed to emulate his father Max, a former professional basketball player, he has instead channelled his ambition through his son Joel, overlooking his daughter Jacinta in the process.

Like a stage mother, Peterson is oblivious to the dreams of his children, intent only on the latent fulfilment of his own dreams. He won't allow anyone to get in his way, particularly a forthright girl from New Zealand called Holly!

Kirk Torrance as Tony McKenzie

Kirk plays Holly's marine biologist father, Tony McKenzie, whose career dictates that his family leave Wellington for the seaside town of Woolich.

In his native New Zealand, Kirk divides his time between stage and television, working extensively in both mediums. TV credits include Shortland Street, Swiss Family Robinson, Duggan, the cult series Xena Warrior Princess, Cleopatra 225, Mataku Kahurangi — The Blue LIne and the acclaimed Fish Skin Soup, voted Best Drama at the 2002 New Zealand Television Awards.

Since the mid-nineties, Kirk has also starred in a diverse range of stage productions from The Caretaker, Swish, Snooze and Taki Toru to Meltdown, Te Ao Marama and Strata. He also featured in the 2002 movie Stickmen.

Tony McKenzie

Together with wife Kate, Tony is always there when daughter Holly needs him — and could teach Alan Peterson a thing or two about parenting!

A marine biologist, it may have been his career that brought his family to Woolich, but it will always be his family that comes first.

Michele Amas as Kate McKenzie

New Zealand-based Michele has been acting for two decades and brings warmth and zest to the role of Kate McKenzie, Holly's supportive mother.

She has worked extensively in television and theatre, and since 1993 has starred in over 25 productions for New Zealand's renowned Circa Theatre, including The Country Wife, Take A Chance On Me, The Herbal Bed, Angels In America, I Hate Hamlet and Joyful And Triumphant. She has also performed with several other theatrical companies, including Auckland Theatre Company and Downstage Theatre Company, garnering several Chapman Tripp awards in the process.

Over the last few years Michele has enjoyed lead roles in television productions such as Heart Of The High Country, Mirror Mirror, The Enid Blyton Secret Series and Duggan.

In addition to her acting skills, Michele wrote and directed Redial, a short film that was screened in competition at the 2002 Venice Film Festival, and in 2003 received a Chapman Tripp Theatre nomination for Best New Director for the play Telling Stories.

Kate McKenzie

Enjoying a year of relative leisure after a fast-paced career in event management, Kate is Holly's irrepressibly positive mother.

Kate, along with husband Tony, is always ready to support Holly in her endeavours — whether it's throwing a party for her daughter's friends, or acting as 'coach' for the Outlaws — even though she's never played basketball!

Alan Hopgood as Max Peterson

Alan was a member of the Melbourne Theatre Company for 10 years prior to spending a period in England both writing and acting. Upon returning to Australia he focused on writing until he joined the cast of the classic television series Bellbird.

Throughout his career, Alan has combined writing and acting and in 1963 the first of his successful plays for MTC — And The Big Men Fly — was staged. His other writing credits include screenplays for the feature films The True Story Of Eskimo Nell, Alvin Purple and Alvin Purple Rides Again and the documentary Prophecies Of Nostradamus.

As an actor, Alan has starred in countless television shows. Highlights include Prisoner, Winner Takes All, Flying Doctors, A Country Practice, Inside running, Law Ot The Land, Janus, State Coroner, Something In The Air, Blue Heelers, Secret Life Of Us, Halifax FP, MDA, Saddle Club2, Fergus McPhail and Stiff.

Nor is he a stranger to the big screen, having had roles in My Brilliant Career, The Blue Lagoon, Roadgames, Evil Angels, The Man From Snowy River II, Ricky & Pete, Hotel De Love and Dalkeith.

Max Peterson

Former champion basketball player Max is the ideal grandfather; affectionate, affable and granddaughter Jacinta's number one fan!

Sadly, he's not on such warm terms with his son, Alan, who has never forgiven Max for failing to choose him for the national team when he was on their selection committee — a situation that's not helped when Max decides to coach the Outlaws.