Kick: articles

Zoe Ventoura

Zoe Ventoura is the big thing in locally-made drama series Kick. Photo: Simon Schluter

Platform to kick off from

Where to next for the fledgling star Zoe Ventoura?

In the case of Zoe Ventoura, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Apple? OK, maybe something more exotic, more Mediterranean. How about a pomegranate, then?

The 27-year-old actress, who gets an auspicious break as the lead character in the locally made drama series Kick, has performance in her blood. Her father is a musician, her mother a dancer and choreographer. She grew up in a household where dancing, singing and playing instruments were the norm, though, she quickly adds to deflect suspicions of Von Trapp family corniness, "we didn't gather around the piano and sing or anything like that". Her brother is also a musician.

She, too, became a performer, enrolling in the VCA's School of Dance, where she graduated in 1999. Opera Australia and musical theatre productions, including We Will Rock You, Debbie Does Dallas - The Musical and Grease, followed.

But, as Ventoura tells it, the vocation found her, rather than she finding it. "I never really thought about doing musical theatre professionally, but then I never really thought of doing anything else. It wasn't until I was older and working in the industry, having down-time and wondering what else I'd be good at.

"I got to a stage a couple of years ago when I thought, dance is just not challenging me any more."

The character she plays in Kick, her first major role, is twentysomething Miki Mavros, an exuberant and energetic tearaway who aspires to be a performer. She has a big mouth, says Ventoura, and doesn't know how to self-censor, which lands her in all manner of impractical situations. Kick's producer and co-writer Adam Bowen makes a more blunt assessment of Miki, calling her "an arts f---up".

Like Miki, Ventoura has a Greek heritage, sings and dances and has the kind of striking good looks that help one go places in the acting trade. But the comparisons stop there.

"Zoe is a very hardworking and experienced actress," says Bowen, "a real trouper, fantastic discipline in that way that you would say to hoofers, 'learn these five dances and come back at three this afternoon', and they've got it.

"The thing about Zoe is she has a lovely, benign core that really comes across. Miki, as written, is quite dark and cynical. The nice thing about that is Zoe can do the role but you know she's not bitter and twisted."

Prior to Kick, Ventoura's experience in drama was restricted to a guest role in 2005's Last Man Standing and as the Eyeless Woman (enough said) in the Queensland-shot, B-grade American horror film See No Evil.

Bowen admits it was a leap of faith to cast Ventoura as Miki. She carries the drama and appears in almost every scene of the 13-part series.

Director Esben Storm is forthright about why he cast the relatively unknown actress. "One, she's not hard to look at, she's gorgeous, she has a beautiful smile, is very positive, very direct, looks you in the eye, meets you and engages with you. She's not a pushover, she meets you, she stands up, she doesn't suck up.

"The thing that I was thrilled about was that she came up with physical comedy, which to me is fantastic. Then you realise here's a girl that's good-looking and funny. Those two things in themselves are a rare combination." Storm believes that comedy is the hardest genre to cast and pull off.

"If you can do comedy you can do anything. It's not the other way around. If you can do drama doesn't necessarily mean you can do comedy."

To prepare for the part, Storm asked Ventoura to look at the sitcom I Love Lucy, as well as Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant comedies - "shows where there are really strong female comedic leads. We wanted to work in that tradition".

Ventoura's Greek father and Australian mother met on a cruise ship, where her father played in a band and her mother choreographed a show. He was from Athens, so as a compromise they settled in Perth.

The household she grew up in was unlike the multicultural milieu of Kick, in which Miki's endearingly doting parents (played by Maria Mercedes and George Kapiniaris) conform to an easily recognised stereotype of post-war immigrants. She says it was a "very Australian household". She and her brother resisted their father's push for them to attend Greek school and eventually he gave up.

"Now I'm like, 'why didn't I go to Greek school?' " so after a visit to her ancestral homeland several years ago, she started studying the language.

She cites the theatre, contemporary dance and music gigs as her main pastimes when she's not working, and clearly hopes that Kick will open the door to other film and television roles.

As good parts are as elusive as they are scarce, she feels "it's almost egotistical" to claim she wants to keep working.

Storm says the vagaries of the industry make it impossible to predict if Ventoura is headed for the Next Big Thing. "Whether she'll kick on and become huge and unattainable for us, I wish her all the best." Kick airs 8pm Saturdays on SBS.

By Paul Kalina
June 28, 2007
The Age

James and Ventoura

Zoe Ventoura plays the feisty Miki Mavros alongside Raji James in SBS' new romantic comedy Kick.

Multiculture with a Kick

SBS delivers a romantic comedy set in Brunswick that determinedly does not explore ethnic differences, reports Paul Kalina.

IT'S lunch break on the Kick set and director Esben Storm is explaining what his youthful romantic comedy is about. But the hefty, loud, persistent extra with a thick accent sitting nearby isn't making his task any easier.

The extra is delivering his homespun theories on why refugees from warring countries manage to live in peace and harmony in Australia.

It's something to do with large spaces between people and dwellings, and the freedom to choose between traditional communities and cultures and those of the adopted homeland.

He illustrates his point by bear-hugging Storm and mimicking the kind of shoulder-to-shoulder closeness one might find in the Tokyo subway. "Try that on a stranger in another part of the world," he seems to be saying, "and see what happens."

Raji James, who co-stars in Kick, joins the animated discussion. Social scientists in Britain have recently pointed out the coincidence of racial friction and summer heat, he says, rattling off a list of infamous conflicts, including "our very own" Cronulla riot.

The forthright discussion, which eventually ends with James returning to make-up and Storm firmly but politely telling the talkative extra to belt up, is for Storm a measure of how far multiculturalism has come in Australia.

Storm, regarded as one of Australia's best children's television drama directors, with credits including Round The Twist, Winners and Crash Zone, migrated to Melbourne from Denmark in 1958.

"I grew up in a street of Hawthorn with Greeks, Serbo-Russians, Jews, Italians," he says. "We didn't go to the park and play cricket and talk about you being Greek or Italian or Russian or Danish. All that mattered is if you were good at bowling or not. Where we came from didn't matter. And when you went to school that's how it was."

Australia has been coming to terms with ethnic and cultural diversity since the early days of European settlement.

"In Melbourne you have a Chinese lord mayor. It's taken for granted," Storm says. "A Lebanese guy is the premier of the state. A guy who's been touted as the first Muslim AFL player is with Essendon. Ron Barassi is Italian. And these guys are heroes.

"I think in Australia, people have gotten used to it. I think it's what makes our society strong; I think that's one of the things that's the hope for Australia."

Kick centres on Hope Street in working-class Brunswick (much of the series is shot just around the corner from the actual Hope Street). It's much like the street Storm remembers from his childhood. Its residents hail from every corner of the globe - India, Greece, Vietnam, Lebanon, Russia - and yet their ethnicity is rarely, if ever, expressly mentioned.

In earlier drafts there were Romeo and Juliet-style storylines such as a Vietnamese girl falling in love with a Lebanese boy. They were discarded, says Storm, as they always descended into ethnic cliche.

"And really what we wanted to say is that people aren't that different to each other, that it doesn't matter where you come from, that we're all pretty much the same, whether you're Greek, or Lebanese, or Vietnamese, we all really have the same issues in life, we all want to love and be loved, we want to raise our children to the best of our abilities and we all want our children to have a better life than we had.

"These are universal truths. We wanted to look at the good things about all these people coming from different places and living together. That's the potential of Australia, all those people coming together, bringing their diverse cultures. That feeds into something that's rich and strong and is the backbone of Australia in the future."

Zoe Ventoura had few expectations when she auditioned for the lead role as twentysomething Miki Mavros, an aspiring musician-performer who leaves a trail of chaos everywhere she goes. "I knew I was good for the role - mid-20s, Greek, performer - but I don't think I was aware of how well-suited I was 'til I was on set filming it," says the Perth-born dancer-turned-actress. "It is about people, relationships and life and doesn't make an issue of religion or nationalities. It just happens that we're all living here."

Raji James, an Anglo-Indian actor familiar to Brit-TV watchers (EastEnders, Robin Hood), plays an earnest Indian doctor who has settled in Australia with his uptight girlfriend (Kat Stewart).

He recalls his first meeting with the director in London, in which Storm described Kick as a multicultural drama.

"I think sometimes that's a bad word when it comes out of politicians' mouths and becomes all about tolerance of other societies or other cultures.

"The stories in this aren't about other cultures, they're about the people, they are about people with real emotions and real opinions. Their background is just who they are. In every race, every culture, people have different personalities. I think that's the charm of the show . . . Esben never talks about the fact that Miki is Greek, or that Layla is Lebanese and Muslim."

KICK is a far cry from the earnest, issue-based dramas about the struggles of ethnic communities and minorities that once defined broadcaster SBS.

For starters, producer and co-writer Adam Bowen says it's a fast, lively romantic comedy. More importantly, he says, the former way of tackling so-called migrant issues wouldn't work for Kick as it would have marginalised the characters, turning them into "the other".

"I worked on Neighbours years ago and was very conscious of how they were constantly trying to get people with names like Musumeci and Kazantzidis on the show. I became conscious of how Anglo-Celtic Australian television is. Maybe because I'm Anglo-Celtic, I got bored after a while with my own people. Maybe that's why I'm friends with Esben."

The project was driven by former SBS Independent head Glenys Rowe, just as soccer fever began to take hold.

As Bowen puts it: "Even redneck journalists said, 'Our triumph at the World Cup is due to the fact that all these people of non-Anglo Celtic background got us there'." But as the scripts evolved, the soccer theme became less important.

Kick's scripts had an unconventional genesis. Bowen and Storm interviewed about 100 people from non-Anglo Celtic backgrounds to talk about their lives. They narrowed that down to 12 people, ranging from ages 17 to 40, from first to third-generation migrants.

"We set them exercises like what happens when a Lebanese Muslim falls in love with a Catholic boy? How would you get the community behind a soccer club? Go off and write a story. One said, 'I'd offer everyone in the neighbourhood a free haircut, and when they're in the barber's chair I'd talk to them'. Stuff like that."

Two of the group were professional writers. Bowen credits one of them, Lina Kastoumis, as the inspiration for the exuberant Miki. They looked for actors who matched the characters they would play as closely as possible.

"I remember one of the first characters I wrote in Neighbours was this sexy Spanish girl," says Bowen. "They cast a Greek girl. When they showed me the rushes I went, 'I can tell she's Greek - everyone in Melbourne will know'."

WITH a Greek father and a professional background in musical theatre, Ventoura fitted the bill perfectly. Her parents are played by the well-known George Kapiniaris and Maria Mercedes, while Anh Do, HaiHa Le and Gabrielle Chan play the Vietnamese Tran family.

But the decision to cast ethnic-specific actors also presented challenges, says Bowen. An Afghani family was dropped from the storyline when actors couldn't be found. "We ended up with Sicilian and Croatian actors (trying for the part), but I thought 'this is silly'."

Not all of the actors playing the fictional Salim family are Lebanese, but Bowen recalls that when they met for the first time they started arguing in the manner of fractious brothers and sisters, talking over the top of each other and telling each other to shut up before looking to their fictional mother to broker peace.

SBS has high hopes for Kick, with storylines and scripts for a second series under way even before the first episodes have aired.

For Storm, Kick's take on ethnic diversity is a sign of how far things have come in Australia.

"In Denmark, everyone is blond, they all look like me and my children," he says. "There are Turks who were born there who want to be called Danish and the Danes are trying to work out if they are Danes; 'They're born here, but they don't look like us'. They're only coming to terms with that stuff now."

By Paul Kalina
June 7, 2007
The Age

Kick start

In SBS's new local drama, multiculturalism is simply a fact of life. Kelsey Munro pays a visit to a rainbow-coloured Ramsay Street.

It's a cool, clear day on a busy north Melbourne street. Pedestrians stroll past the bread rolls and croissants piled in the window of a Vietnamese bakery.

Next door, there's a slightly dated doctor's surgery, not far from a kebab joint and an African hair salon with braided mannequin heads out the front. It's a scene that's unexceptional in Brunswick - an urban jumble of nationalities, generations and cultures.

But all is not quite what it seems. The doctor's surgery and the bakery have been created from scratch in vacant shops by SBS set-dressers. The pastries - though real - aren't as fresh as you'd hope from a local bakery. And peering through the window, passers-by might spy the affable comedian and actor Anh Do manning the bakery counter, or a film crew blocking out the actors' marks in tape on the floor.

It's early in the filming of SBS's new 13-part drama Kick. Set in the semi-mythical Hope Street, Kick is like a multicultural, working-class Neighbours meets Heartbreak High - only, its creators hope, funnier, edgier and more realistic.

With Lebanese, Serbo-Russian, Vietnamese and Greek families living together, Hope Street is a self-consciously multicultural creation that nonetheless reflects aspects of contemporary Australia at least as accurately as Kath & Kim's white-bread Fountaingate Mall.

Beautifully shot by Will Gibson (Wolf Creek, Macbeth) in HD format, Kick is colourful and fast-moving. After a slightly clunky first episode that trips over its own ethnic stereotypes, it comes together in a genuinely engaging, comic tangle of contemporary storylines.

The show's central character, twentysomething Greek girl Miki Mavros (Zoe Ventoura), is a gorgeous, artistic screw-up who moves back with her parents in Brunswick after clocking up substantial parking fines. She gets a job as receptionist for recent migrant Joe Mangeshkar (Raji James), a prim yet loveable British doctor. He's engaged to a tense British lawyer, but the will-they, won't-they dynamic between odd couple Miki and Joe is the show's dominant romantic theme.

James, well-known in Britain for roles on The Bill and Eastenders and the movie East is East, overflows with praise for the series. "It's my first time in Australia - it's amazing, the people are amazing, the crew, the weather's amazing!" he says, adding, "I've lived in London for 15 years," by way of explanation as he hand-rolls a cigarette.

"If there's a cast that in any way involved people of different cultures or races or ethnic backgrounds - certainly in the UK - there's been this habit to make the whole thing issues-based," he says. "The stories are always about arranged marriages or something. So to be handed these scripts is like being handed the Holy Grail. It's actually about people and their lives and how they interact and where they go right and wrong, just like human beings."

James, who separated from his wife just before coming to Australia, found some of Joe's experiences "a little too autobiographical", particularly the storyline that had his relationship cracking under the strain of renovations.

"It was like they had been watching my life," he sighs. "It basically sums up the last two years of my own relationship. And Joe has that British uptightness which is similar to me. And his inability to finish a sentence."

James is the only imported actor in an otherwise Australian cast. Ventoura, the charismatic star of the show, is Perth-born but now from Sydney. New to the small screen, she spent years treading the boards in musical theatre.

Wrapped in a blanket between scenes, she seems more fragile than the messily exuberant Miki, and almost shy about being interviewed. Producer Adam Bowen says she was cast very early in the process after being seen in a touring Eurovision musical satire called Eurobeat. Ventoura, whose father was Greek and mother Anglo-Australian, played the Greek contestant.

"She came out in a caftan and these Nana Mouskouri glasses," Bowen says. "Then she throws off the caftan and she's wearing this really sexy outfit and dances - in high heels, I might add. She's a hoofer from way back. She's so fresh and delightful, not a diva at all, we've been really lucky with her."

Ventoura says: "I do identify with my character. We have lots of similarities, but she's kind of a more full-on version of me. She's a bit crazier and more left-of-centre. She's heaps of fun and has good intentions but is always getting herself into trouble. I'm a little more boring."

At least Ventoura hasn't got thousands in unpaid fines. "Every time someone says that, it reminds me I have two fines I really have to pay," she adds.

The pressure of carrying a whole series was initially terrifying but Ventoura soon relaxed into the role. "Now we're into it, it's an ensemble thing - everyone's so great, I'm learning from the more experienced people. It's been a gift."

Kick's development involved workshops with lots of young first-generation Australians whose lives the show reflects. One in five Australians speaks a language other than English at home, so the multicultural vision, backed by SBS, was very much a part of the show's genesis.

Director Esben Storm, who migrated as youngster from Denmark, grew up in a real Hope Street in Hawthorn, which contributed greatly to his vision for Kick. "It was a little street with a park down the end, with all these Greeks and Russians and Italians, and we would all gather in the park and play cricket and footy," he says.

In Kick's Hope Street - a rainbow-coloured Ramsay Street - the universal sport is soccer, as played by 16-year-old Serbo-Russian blonde Tatiana (Natasha Cunningham), and her friend, 16-year-old Lebanese boy Osama or "Ozzie" (Stephen Lopez).

Ozzie's sister Layla (Nicole Chamoun) is 19, engaged to be married but falling in love with a young woman she met at fencing (Romi Trower). Do's character Hoa Tran wants to open a karaoke kingdom, while his overachieving law student sister, Lien (HaiHa Le), works hard for their mum in the bakery.

"The subtext is that there are all these people from everywhere living together," Storm says. "The idea was to have a vision of how things could be, and indeed how, in a lot of places, Australia really is. There's the Dutch couple, the Lebanese family, the Italian, Greek and Aussie families - all of these people are all living together and having street barbies, and the fact that someone's Christian or someone's Muslim, it's irrelevant. People are just relating to each other as people. This is a positive vision of Australia."

By Kelsey Munro
June 4, 2007
Sydney Morning Herald

Love blooms on Hope Street

Actor Nicole Chamoun's big break comes playing a feisty fencing Lebanese lesbian.

No wonder Nicole Chamoun sounds exhilarated.

After graduating, and following a spot of travelling, the 23-year-old actress has landed her big break at almost the first attempt.

Next Saturday (9 June) she makes her television debut as Layla, a Lebanese-Australian teenager struggling with her sexuality, in the ambitious new SBS drama, Kick.

“I’m still over the moon,” Chamoun says excitedly. “It still hasn’t hit me. I think I have to actually view it to realise it’s happening.”

Kick is set on Hope Street, where the good working people of inner-city Melbourne are trying to fulfil their dreams while colliding head on with the struggles of daily life.

“When people ask me to describe it, it’s so hard because there is nothing like it on television,” Chamoun tells Sydney Star Observer. “I want to call it a drama because of my character’s journey but it’s so bloody funny.”

The show focuses on Greek-Australian woman Miki and her on-off relationship with British-Indian doctor Joe.

However, it’s Chamoun’s character Layla that Kick producers have said has the “hardest story of all”.

“Layla comes from a very strict Lebanese family she adores and she wants to make them proud,” Chamoun says.

“Her life is set out for her and she’s been engaged to a family friend for years and she’s never really thought much about it.

“[Then] she gets a really strong connection with Jackie and you see the journey that she goes through and finds herself falling in love with this great girl.”

And where do Layla and Jackie first meet? A party? Lesbian night down the local pub?

“They’re having a bout in a fencing match and they remove their masks after Layla kicks her butt and the rest is history,” Chamoun laughs.

Being from a Lebanese background herself, Chamoun felt she knew something of what made Layla tick.

“The things she’s gone through in her life, you know, wanting to make her parents proud and trying to find a balance between being true to her Lebanese background and also being an Aussie chick who wants to go out with her mates and have a few beers that’s where I connect with the character.”

However, Chamoun doesn’t see Layla’s story as just about her coming out. She says simply it’s about “a girl who’s falling in love and the issues that come with that”.

“She’s following her heart, probably for the first time, putting aside what her family’s going to think and [instead] saying, ‘This is how I feel and I’m going to follow it and be true to myself.’”

What was it like being a first-time actor and being in such an emotional role, which demanded intimate scenes with another woman?

“In some ways it may have been easier.

“[Romi Trower, who plays Jackie] took her time with me. Sharing that experience with a female, I felt comfortable being nervous, being shy, having giggly moments. I don’t know if I would have been as comfortable with a male actor.”

And what about the obligatory kiss?

“Having my first on-screen kiss with anyone was going to be a new experience.

“Now all I know is having on-screen kisses with females,” Chamoun exclaims.

Chamoun is clearly excited by the prospect of becoming a role model for young gay women in Australia.

But does she think she comes across as a convincing lesbian on-screen?

“I don’t know about lesbian I think that’ll be for the audience to decide,” she says. “But I think I make a good girl in love.”

By Benedict Brook
May 31, 2007
Sydney Star Observer Issue 869

Kick connects Ventoura to Greek roots

It's a role that had Greek-Australian actor Zoe Ventoura wondering: "Am I Greek enough?"

But in the end, portraying Miki Mavros in the new SBS TV series Kick put Ventoura in touch with a part of her heritage she may not have recognised before.

Mavros is a vivacious and funny woman in her mid-20s who owes $3,000 in parking fines and is forced to seek refuge at her parents' home on multicultural, working-class Hope Street.

"It's been an absolutely rollercoaster because Miki is a character with these very, very Greek immigrant parents that are just crazy, intense," Ventoura, 27, said on the set of Kick, in Melbourne's Brunswick.

But Mavros is just as crazy as her Greek parents and Ventoura says, initially, that was something that bothered her.

While her father's Greek, her mother's Australian and she grew up in an Aussie household.

"I loved her (Mavros), but I felt like for some reason I wasn't Greek enough to play her," she said.

"It was like I didn't look or act Greek enough. But the further I got along it started sinking in that this is part of my heritage and I thought: 'Hang on, this is me'.

"It's really connected me a lot more to my Greek roots."

While Kick is a story about multiculturalism, star and co-writer Anh Do says it tries to avoid stereotypes.

"The beauty about this story is that before, whenever there were ethnic characters they were stereotypes, the terrorist or the cab driver," said Do, a comedian who also features in the SBS comedy series Fat Pizza.

"Kick outlines the cultural differences but doesn't focus on the stereotypes.

"My character is Vietnamese and speaks proudly of his heritage, but if you were to listen to him without seeing him you would think he was an Aussie guy who's excited about life, which he is. We are all Australians and it's just exploring that."

Kick's 13 half-hour episodes look at the intertwining lives of the families on Hope Street and how they combine their rich heritages with the Australian lifestyle.

While Mavros has returned home to her roots, she begins to fall for Joe Mangeshkar (Raji James), an uptight Indian doctor who also lives in Hope Street.

The only problem is that he's already dating an ambitious British girlfriend.

Meanwhile, down the street, all the boys are interested in 16-year-old Tatiana, a hot-tempered Russian who is always at odds with Zoran, her father and soccer coach.

Then there is Osama, also 16 and Lebanese, who lives with his widowed mother and his sister Layla, who is engaged to Sharif but who is falling in love with a young woman.

"We started writing stories about issues, migrant issues with refugees and that type of thing," says producer/writer Adam Bowen.

"Then we thought it should be about everyone and should be about Australians.

"Miki has an overbearing mother, but they are in every culture!"

Even before it goes to air, SBS has commissioned a second series of Kick and Bowen says he hopes other networks take his lead in the future.

"They have already put money down for a second series which is fantastic," Bowen said.

"When you look at shows like Home and Away or Neighbours, they are still so Anglo, even though Australia is so multicultural. Hopefully in the future that changes."

May 28, 2007

Fruits of frustration

Zoe Ventoura shares her journey from ensemble dancer to lead actress on the new SBS series, Kick.

I’m 27 and single and live in Sydney, but I’m from Perth originally. I grew up in Thornlie and went to Penrhos College.

I was a bit of a geek in high school and my mum wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, just something stable. I can understand why both my parents are performers. Mum was a dancer and a choreographer, and is now the artistic director of a dance company in Canberra. Dad is a muso a bass player. They met on a cruise ship. Sad but true. My brother is a bass player too. He plays with Jon Stevens, Guy Sebastian and Kate Ceberano.

My parents split up when I was in Year 12, and after high school I moved to Melbourne to go to the Victorian College of the Arts. I danced with Opera Australia for a few seasons and then started music theatre. I was in Oh, What a Night, Footloose, We Will Rock You and Eurobeat. I played Cha Cha in Grease and Lisa in Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical. (Make sure you put “The Musical” in otherwise people think it’s the movie! )

I was doing really well and I was grateful to get on to these good shows and tours, but it just didn’t inspire me any more. I needed to make some changes. I was sitting on stage in the ensemble of We Will Rock You, and I got this massive burning frustration that I wasn’t doing or saying anything. I felt like jumping out of my skin and screaming!

At the same time, I was getting really interested in acting. I found an amazing acting teacher from New York who comes to Sydney every year. So I trained with her, got voice and dialect coaching, and got some accents going. It was a big investment, even just financially. The money was going to be a deposit on a house, so it almost made me broke. But I wanted to be really good at it.

I was in a comedy show playing a Greek girl when I heard that the producers of Kick were looking for a 20-something Greek performer who could be funny. So I auditioned, they came to see me in the show, and it went from there.

To be honest, when I first auditioned for Kick my initial thought was “I’m not Greek enough”. I’m not the Effie stereotype. I don’t really see myself as looking very Greek. My dad’s Greek but my mum’s Australian, and I grew up in an Aussie household. I have the Greek background and Greek relatives, so I suppose it’s in the blood.

Getting Kick is massive for me. It’s a really fresh, vibrant, topical, multicultural comedy. I play a 20-something Greek performer who goes at a million miles an hour. She gets into trouble, moves back in with her parents in a poor suburb and gets reacquainted with the people she grew up with.

It was shot in Melbourne last year. It was gruelling. On a feature film you shoot about 30 seconds of footage a day. We shot between 10-12 minutes a day. We shot 13 episodes in nine weeks. I didn’t really have anything to compare it to, so I was saying “Oh my God, is this what it’s like?” It was hard to keep up, but it’s really exciting.

I’ve done TV commercials, a guest role in Last Man Standing and a bit-part in an American horror film where I get my eyes gouged out. But this was the lead role in a TV series. It’s a big thing, and it wasn’t until halfway through that I started stressing out.

I fell ill first with laryngitis, then tonsillitis, then conjunctivitis, all within two weeks. We were shooting every day and I was in most scenes, so it made it really difficult. I wasn’t so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed, so we just worked around it. Everyone was really supportive, and no one was putting pressure on me. I put the pressure on myself. I was playing it down a bit in my head so I wouldn’t freak out.

George Kapiniaris from Acropolis Now is in the show, so he became a bit of a mentor to me on the set. The experience has given me the confidence to feel like I do deserve to work as an actor on screen. Not that I’ve made it or anything just that I can’t imagine doing anything else now.

May 26, 2007
The Sunday Times