Young Lions: articles

Young lioness pounces on every opportunity

You could excuse Katherine Slattery for speaking in cliches when she talks about the flying start to her acting career. After all, it's difficult to find the words to describe the success that so quickly has catapulted her from drama school to a leading role on Nine's latest police drama, Young Lions.

After graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2000, the 25 year old had prepared herself for the barren years that can face aspiring actors. She never imagined she would land a role in a weekly drama series.

"At drama school they never make any false promises about employment in acting," Slattery says. "Last year was a great first year out for me in the industry and I'm just trying to make the most of it while it's there."

In the 18 months since she finished at the VCA, Slattery has appeared in Changi, played the lead in the ABC telemovie The Road from Coorain and now stars in Young Lions as lawyer Madeleine Delaney. And the Melbourneborn actor has followed her run of work, moving to Sydney and into an innercity share house with two other actors.

From her unpretentious talk and the laughter that punctuates her conversation, you get the feeling that Slattery has to keep reminding herself that all this is really happening. But as she looks on the acting world with wide eyes, there is a levelheaded purpose that grounds her—every sentence seems to end with a qualifying statement about the value of the experience.

Slattery is unconcerned by the pressure her early success might bring and says she wants to keep doing projects that are rewarding and creatively fulfilling. "Young Lions is great because it is so different to what I've done before. Television is extremely fast and it's a whole (different) genre," she says.

Confessing to a love of theatre, as well as a desire to work in film, Slattery has already had breakneck exposure to the diverse directions in which acting pulls. In a production for this year's Sydney Festival she played, among seven other roles, the voice of an ATM around whose transactions the story was based. Her graduation performance at the VCA was a six-hour production of 1001 Nights.

In television you need to constantly be "in the moment", she says. "But for a five or sixhour show you have to let it out in a very controlled manner over that time so you don't run out of steam. That's the thing about acting and the opportunity you get to have: you get to test yourself in really different ways."

Slattery is working hard on maintaining that variety. In November she will perform in a production of Anthony Mingella's Whale Music with recent graduates from the NIDA and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at the Darlinghurst Theatre in Sydney.

Slattery is nervous about making predictions about her future. "But in an idealistic world," she says, "I'd still be doing work that I'm really proud of, I can have integrity doing, and I'm fulfilled by creatively. That probably sounds very cliched…"

September 12 2002
The Age