Having won Best Newcomer for her role as Shay Turner in the hit Aussie show 800 Words, Melina Vidler talks to WHO about her career, family and her split between Australia and New Zealand.
Your very first acting gig was a Hungry Jacks commercial before being cast to play Shay Turner in 800 Words. How was that?
When I first got the Hungry Jacks commercial I was really excited just knowing I was going to be on TV. Now I think how ridiculous it was [laughs] When I got the role on 800 words, I didn’t really know what I was doing and that’s why it was so good to have someone like Eric [Thomson] helping me out, but also to have a crew that were so patient with helping me learn all the ins and outs of working in the industry. I still learn things to this day, but after three years filming 800 words, at least I can now walk on set and know what I’m doing.
You studied acting both during and after high school. Did you always want to act?
I knew when I was in my last year of primary school and I was on the bus with my best friend and she told me that I should give up on wanting to be an actor because the chances of being successful were so thin. That made me go, ‘you know what, I’m going to do this’, because when I am told I can’t do something I really want to do it.
But I love it. Being able to be multiple different people is just so exciting to me and acting allows me to do that.
You are extremely close with your family. What did they think of your career choice?
No one in my family is at all involved in this industry so they just think it’s really new and exciting. My parents have my Logie on display in their new office and whenever I go there, there’s either a magazine article of me somewhere near it or a DVD of 800 words. It’s like my own shrine. Mum’s always trying to make my brothers feel special but we all know who the favorite is [laughs].
Do you have your own plans to start your own family?
I’m just focusing on my career right now and I’m happy and content doing that. I’m always open to meeting the one, it’s just whether or not long distance will work because that’s always going to be an issue in my career. I want to start a relationship on a foundation of being physically in the same place but unfortunately doesn’t happen very often.
When you were a child, your dad became quite sick. How did that affect your family dynamic?
I would have been probably 5 or 6, quite young, and he got Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which then led to many other things over the years. Because I was so young I didn’t really understand, I just remember this period where dad was quite angry and he was losing his hair. Dad was always the breadwinner and mums always the one at home there to emotionally support us so it was really difficult but I guess, it brought us much closer as a family.
800 Words is filmed in New Zealand so you spend a lot of your time abroad. How is it being away from home?
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we filmed it in Australia and Sydney and the difference that would make. I have become great friends with everyone in New Zealand but there’s no one I grew up with. I think there’s two Melina’s, there’s the kiwi Melina and to Aussie Melina and I can’t have both worlds so I’m always sacrificing one for the other.
You’ve settled back into Sydney now.
I’m definitely happy to be back and to base myself here. My brother and I are thinking about getting a place together in Sydney so I’ll be able to spend much more time here.
What’s next for you after 800 Words?
Well, I hope the show never stops but for me, I’m not really sure what’s next and that really excites me. I’m really interested to dip my hand into a new character and some other projects and just tweak that acting muscle. But yeah, I’m not sure what’s next and I’m happy with that, I’m not scared of the unknown right now.
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