Sydney’s up and coming actors tell it like it is


Melinda Wills McHugh caught up with three local up-and-comers to found out why they do it.

Daniel Lissing:

“I really needed that coffee,” Daniel Lissing, 27, said as he waited to board his 7am flight. “I finished a gig at midnight and was up again at five.” A musician and actor, Lissing juggles playing three nights a week at Sydney establishments Sidebar and Equilibrium as well as corporate gigs and television and film work.

He arrived back from LA three weeks ago, and today he’s travelling to a three-day shoot for a Heaven Ice Cream television commercial.

“When I did the audition, I didn’t think I was right but I ended up getting it. That’s the thing with auditions – you never know. From there it was all very quick. It was confirmed and two days later, here I am.”

His first role was in 1988 when he scored a 50-worder in Looking for Alibrandi. Since then he’s appeared in many television commercials, won guest roles in Underbelly: a Tale of Two Cities (9) and Packed to the Rafters (7), and taken the lead in a 2008 short film Multiple Choice, directed by Michael Goode.

Although commercials and guest roles are a good source of income, they are not constant, so Lissing’s bread and butter comes from his gigs.

A gifted musician – he sings, writes songs and plays guitar. But he’s the first to admit that following his passion has its downsides.

“Unfortunately I’ve chosen a career that’s really tough to have true longevity and financial success. There are a lot of actors and musicians out there.

‘‘But for me, it’s not about being on TV, it’s about the work. I get such a buzz being on set and I know this is what I was meant to do. Same with music.

“If I had an opportunity to write, record and release an album – that would be great. But I know how much work is involved, as well as luck and patience.”

At 18, Lissing was in a band which later broke up, but his manager at the time gave him a piece of paper with five words scrawled on it.

“He called it the ‘Five P Rule’. The five Ps are positivity, perseverance, patience, persistence, pleasure … actually I can’t remember, I think that’s wrong. I just made the last two up … but anyway words along those lines,” he said.

David Joshua Ford:

At 191cm tall David Joshua Ford was hard to ignore and when we first met in the foyer of a University of Technology building I couldn’t help commenting on it. “Yeah, I get that all the time,” he said. So it came as no surprise to learn that he’s been working as a model for the past two years.

But today he’s auditioning for the role of Brendan in White Elephant, a graduating short film to be shot later in the year. It doesn’t pay anything but it would be a good addition to his show reel and if entered into a short film festival it could potentially elevate his acting status. If he does get the role it will be his fourth short film this year. “Many of the short films I’ve been involved in I’ve found on a casting website. But I always pick my scripts very carefully. White Elephant’s script was appealing and I have a feeling that the quality of this production will be very good.”

At 25, Canberra-raised Joshua Ford has already achieved more than most people twice his age. To model and actor he can also add presenter, producer, writer and photographer to his list of accomplishments. From TV presenting roles (including ABC2’s travel show Fanging It); a role on a Maybelline International TV commercial; a producer and presenter on Channel 31’s Scout TV; a photographer for Sony Tropfest 08; a writer/director for the 2006 short film (and Hope Awards finalist) Sacred Space – the list goes on.

He’s soon asked to deliver Brendan’s two lines. It’s not much to work on but the director knows what he’s looking for and Joshua Ford’s impressive bio should fill in the gaps. “I don’t know if I got that one or not, it’s hard to tell,” he said later. “Sometimes you think you go well and don’t get a call back, while other times it’s the complete opposite. The knockbacks are hard, particularly when you know you’ve done well but they’re considering someone else for the role based on their look.’‘

With an income from modelling and TV presenting, Joshua Ford’s next gig is a role in Cosi fan Tutte at the Sydney Opera House (until October 29). “It’s the ultimate crossover role of videographer and actor. I’m one of the characters on the stage and the stuff that I’m shooting will be projected onto the back of the stage,” he said.

Kym Thorne:

Kym Thorne was running through her lines for her Scrubs audition tape in a Surry Hills studio. Her American accent was flawless and hearing her you’d think she was born and bred in the US, not Australia. When she saw me she broke from character, said hello in her Aussie accent and welcomed me to her audition.

Thorne was taping two very different scenes for Scrubs – they’re both fast and funny, and her comedic timing was brilliant. Her face held a wide range of expressions and everything seemed to move, including her eyebrows. “Hold on,” she said. “I’ve just got to put some glossaroony on, then I’m going to chuck in a bit of Oziness into the next one, just for fun.” She started the scene again and improvised. Afterwards we strolled through the streets of Surry Hills and I asked her how she thought her audition tape would go. “Well I’ve been reading for US projects for just over a year now and have been working on my American accent with a voice coach. I haven’t done a lot of comedy but I really enjoy it. It can be a genre that’s really difficult if you’re not used to it as it’s a very fast tempo.’’ Now that the preparation and audition is down on tape, all Thorne can do is wait. It could be days, weeks or even months. At 22, Thorne seems older than her years and while studying at Edith Cowan University in her hometown of Perth, her first acting role was the lead in the 2006 Western Australian Academy of Professional Arts project, Busted. But it was only in January when she won the lead in the feature film Wasted on the Young that she got serious about acting.

Thorne and Lissing have won the lead and supporting role, respectively, in Callous – a new feature film. Lissing is also writing and performing the score and theme music. Written and directed by Alan Lock, Callous is being shot in Sydney.

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