Get A Life interview with leads


 Abril Tolnay as Tessa Wise (photo by Stephen Wong photography)

1.Tell us a little bit about the character you play in Get A Life, Alright & are you very similar to the character you play?

I definitely feel that Tessa and I share similarities, particularly in our values and interests. She is a performer and a girly girl with a big heart, and an absolute hopeless romantic. But above that, she is caring and considerate with others, and is both humble and confident in her demeanour. Tessa can at times be too trusting of others and easily persuaded, which has the potential to put her in sticky situations if she’s not careful. Being in the spotlight, she has unfortunately had her fair share of hardships, particularly heartbreak and betrayal. But Tessa is lucky in that she has wonderful close friends and family, who have supported and guided her in regaining courage and self-assurance.

2. What is the best thing you’ve learnt or can take away from Get a Life, Alright that you would like to share with its audience.

Get a Life, Alright has taught me the importance of speaking your truth, standing up for yourself and most importantly, effective communication. Nick and Tessa are fearless and ambitious for making their dreams a reality, but inadvertently experience downfalls in their journeys as a result of miscommunication that could have been prevented. However, it is their courage that prevails, and taking action for what they believe in.

3. Why do you want to be an actor?

What a question! Acting is so rewarding. For me it’s the best way of exploring the human condition, of learning about what we are capable of and how differently we all see the world. But to be able to tell important stories, or inspire someone to think differently about something, I think that’s really powerful. Not to mention the collaboration of talent involved in making a film or a series, is always just magical. 

4. What do you like best about acting?

Film and Stage have many similarities, but for me are worlds apart in terms of the experience of acting. I love both, for different reasons. On stage, there is only one take, one audience, one moment. Being able to move freely about the stage, feel the audience’s presence and get lost in performance is incredible. Film is much more controlled; many takes, many audiences (love your work, crew) and many repeated moments. But the way it can be edited and manipulated to look a certain way, and the fun you have on set is just as delightful!

5. What do you do for time out when not working / acting?

I love anything creative; drawing, dancing, singing, even testing my baking and cooking skills. At the moment though, I’m really enjoying learning Adobe suite and exploring digital design.

6. If someone was to make a movie about you, who would you want to play you and why?

Johnny Depp, for obvious reasons.

7. Who is your favourite actor/ actress & why?

I have so many! No bias whatsoever, I love Cate Blanchett and Toni Collette, their performances and range of character always leave me in awe. Paul Rudd is also always so much fun to watch.

8. What is your favourite film of all time and why?

Probably Edward Scissorhands, because I could watch it a million times and it would never get old. It is so nostalgic, and just an all round classic.

9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I see myself very well travelled, with a potential fur baby and most of all, happy and thriving in whatever I choose to do.

10. Who would you like to meet (famous or non famous) and why?

William Shakespeare. He was really onto something, I’d very much like to pick his brain.

Satish Kala as Nick Singh (photo by Rose May Photography)

1)   Tell us a little bit about the character you play in Get A Life, Alright & are you very similar to the character you play?

Nick is a happy go lucky guy, who always sees the good in people. He has an ambition to become an actor, but with responsibilities to his family and lack of opportunities, he’s hustling for a break. 

I see myself in quite similar shoes to Nick due to similar priorities and family oriented  characteristics.  

2)   What is the best thing you’ve learnt or can take away from Get a Life, Alright that you would like to share with its audience.

The best thing I can take away from Get a life, Alright is the bond that the family shares. Regardless of the ups and downs in the characters life, they have always been there for each other. 

3)   Why do you want to be an actor?

I fell in love with acting by chance. I had never thought about being an actor. From an ancient history lesson, which turned out to be a stage performance, I felt connected to the stage and the character. 

Being an actor and playing different roles, keeps me excited and wanting to continue learning and developing as an actor.  

4)   What do you like best about acting?

Acting can really be therapeutical. It brings out a lot of behavioural characteristics, that you don’t really get to experience or be exposed to. While playing different characters/professions, you do gain a better understanding of where the character is coming from and how his life has been impacted by the story. I would love to play historical/medieval characters that brings out aura of the past and to relive it on the screen.

In terms of preference, I would definitely prefer screen (film/Tv) as it can reach masses,however I did start of in Theatre (stage) and have loved all aspect of the production. 

5)   What do you do for time out when not working / acting?

I spend a lot of time with my nephew and niece. I love seeing the world from children’s eyes and they thoroughly keep me entertained.

6)   If someone was to make a movie about you, who would you want to play you and why?

I don’t know, it’s too early to say. Maybe some actors from Bollywood. 

7)   Who is your favourite actor/ actress & why?

Tom Hanks. His perfection to different characters sets him apart and I love the way, he can create emotions within himself (perfect example- Cast away)

8)   What is your favourite film of all time and why?

I watch a lot of action movies. My recent favourites would be Marvel “Avengers End game”. 

9)   Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Hopefully Acting 

10) Who would you like to meet (famous or non famous) and why?

I would like meet Dalai Lama and find out about his journey as a spiritual leader in present times.

Aileen Huynh as Sarah Chen (photo by Stephen Wong Photography)

1)   Tell us a little bit about the character you play in Get A Life, Alright & are you very similar to the character you play?

I play Sarah Chen. Sarah is caring, forthright, full of positive and a little zany. I’d like to think I’m a little like her…or working towards being more like her 

2)   What is the best thing you’ve learnt or can take away from Get a Life, Alright that you would like to share with its audience.

That family and the right friends will always have your back – and when you’re feeling down, you can count on them to help pull you through.

3)   Why do you want to be an actor?

For me, It’s been the most authentic act of self-expression.

4)   What do you like best about acting?

I love screen – the medium is something I really connect with when I watch it. It is also an amazing process to be on set and see how vital every single department is.

5)   What do you do for time out when not working / acting?

Gardening, working on my youtube channel – Mad Doctor (Neighbourhood Urology)

6)   If someone was to make a movie about you, who would you want to play you and why?

Good question. I have NO idea! Never thought about it, and I think I would have to ponder over that one for a long while!

7)   Who is your favourite actor/ actress & why?

I don’t have a particular favourite. There is a general appreciation of many

8)   What is your favourite film of all time and why?

Anne of Green Gables – sappy AF and is somewhat a guilty pleasure, but can watch a re-run ANY time and be hooked.

9)   Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Still making, still creating – in some form or other.

10) Who would you like to meet (famous or non famous) and why?

Harry Baker, who created Chiffon Cake, because there would be a large chance that there would be cake at the meet-up.

Leading actress, Abril Tonay says, “People should see Get a Life, Alright because it has everything people want in a romantic drama.  It has the added bonus of a few musical numbers that will stay in your head for days. It’s the first Australian Indie film of its kind, led by an incredible team of talented women.”

“Get A Life Alright is a quirky, fun time that has everything from song, dance and some delicious lamb chops! But most importantly it celebrates love, family and strength in the face of adversity. It’s a film that brings the joy and warms the heart,” says actress Aileen Huynh.


Dendy ticket link

Wallis cinemas ticket link 

“Colourblind Casting Prevails” (Joy’s interview with Tony Ayres in this month’s MEAA magazine)

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Interview with Remy Hii (Marco Polo, Better Man, Neighbours)


Remy Hii is an Australian actor. He attended the National Institute of Dramatic Art for three years and appeared in various theatre productions before being cast in television. Hii starred as Van Tuong Nguyen in the miniseries Better Man and was cast as Hudson Walsh in the soap opera Neighbours in 2013 and currently starring in Marco Polo. Hii was born to a Chinese-Malaysian father and an English mother. His early theatre work was with The Emerge Project an arm of Switchboard Arts. There he performed in a number of original productions in Brisbane by local playwrights between 2005 and 2007. From 2009 to 2011 he attended the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney where he graduated in 2011. I was lucky to interview Remy who’s currently filming for Marco Polo.

1) When you were growing up who were your role models on Australian TV &    Film?

I actually grew up as a young kid in Papua New Guinea; we didn’t have television reception out there so my grandparents in Sydney would send out the TV guides from back home, and I’d highlight the shows I wanted to be taped, and they would mail back VHS tapes for us to watch. Gary Sweet in Police Rescue was a pretty big part of my life back then. Sadly looking back to my younger years, I don’t recall there being many faces of colour on our screens to look up to.

2) What made you want to break into Australian TV / Film?

I’ve always been motivated to succeed in this industry, as an artist, to be able to tell stories that excite me and in turn excite others. To get people passionate about Australian stories again. My friends and I always bemoan the often heard line “It was good… for an Australian film”. Somewhere along the line our storytelling stopped connecting with the audience: it stopped reflecting the country that many of us are living in; and yet there is a strong push now for new voices to be heard and that is something I want to be a part of.


3) How did you get started in your career?

A fantastic co-op theatre company in Brisbane run by Dr. Errol Bray allowed me to hone my craft as a young actor and recognise the importance of new writing in Australia. It was through performing there that I was asked to audition for a new play at the Queensland Theatre Company – The Estimatorwritten by David Brown. It won the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award in 2006 and I was playing the title role to sold out shows for an extended season. It was a wonderful induction into the industry, and cemented for me the idea that perhaps there was a place for me as an actor in Australia.

Coming from theatre in Brisbane, Film and Television seemed like this unattainable and mysterious thing. I found myself being sent for roles like Asian Gambler in East West 101, Asian Nerd in The Strip, and Asian Ladyboy in SeaPatrol. It wasn’t until I graduated from NIDA that other options started opening up for me, and chances to play interesting characters who were more than their skin colour or racial stereotype started to present themselves. Looking back, I’m kind of glad I never got the part(s).

4) Do you see a positive change to colour blind casting in Australian TV / Film and Theatre?

This is a really tough question to answer, as I can only speak from personal experience and sometimes it seems like we’ve really made it and sometimes it feels like we’re back living in the 50’s. I think we are making baby steps towards a place that  reflects the wonderful variety that is our nation. It’s slow, and there’s a long way to go but television is no longer the same as when I was young and diversity on our screens meant the other variations of white like Greek and Italian.


5) What changes would you like to see in the TV & Film industry?

More risks. Some of our countries greatest runaway hits have come from projects that the commercial networks would recoil from. Shows like The Slap, Please Like Me and Redfern Now have all found success and audiences here and overseas, and they refused to be safe – from casting to themes and subject matter. Rather than being afraid of what makes us different, we should be embracing it.

6) What more do you want to achieve in the future?

I feel like I’ve barely even begun! I’ve been working for the last few months on the second season of Netflix’s Marco Polo. It’s a very big budget, action heavy production requiring hundreds of actors and extras, hours and hours of physical training, fight choreography and punishing hours on set. It’s an incredibly rewarding process, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it, but I’m looking forward to coming back home and getting back to the theatre. Just a stage and that magic connection between the actor and the audience.

Photos courtesy of Remy Hii and Australians in Film 

Q and A interview with Benjamin Law about diversity

Benjamin Law and Joy

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, and has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies. He’s also member of M.E.A.A. as a freelance writer.

Benjamin is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards.

Benjamin is also a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age).


books B

What made you want to write your story – The Family Law?
I’d been writing personal columns for frankie for a while, and I noticed the ones that made reference to my family – especially my mum – got a great response. Which isn’t surprising, really – my mum is pretty hilarious, unique and baffling, in the way that only mothers can be. And after I wrote longer pieces for an anthology called Growing Up Asian in Australia, my now-editor approached me, asking if I had a book up my sleeve. Part of what motivated me to write The Family Law was this idea of writing a book I wish I’d read as a teenager. One with a hilariously dysfunctional Chinese-Australian family.




After writing your story, what steps did you take in order to get your story / screenplay seen by a network or producer?

I didn’t actually seek out screen options myself. I think my publisher would’ve had chats with production companies, and the book was also on people’s radars after a certain point. But when I heard Matchbox Pictures and Tony Ayres – whose work I’d admired for years before we even met  – were interested, I knew they were the ones for me.

Your screenplay will obviously open doors for diversity…however will your screenplay also be open for “colourblind casting?” 

I’m only on the show as a writer, so I don’t get to call those shots.
Benjamin Law photo 1
Can you reveal how many roles will be Asian? 
What I can say is that roughly 90% of the cast is explicitly written as Chinese-Australian, so we’ll need the majority of actors to have Asian faces. There are a handful of other roles which are specifically for Eurasian actors, and some roles are definitely white. As for the other roles, I reckon that can and should go to as many different actors as possible!



When you were growing up in Australia, who were your role models on television and / or film and why? 

There weren’t a huge number of Asian faces on telly when I was growing up. My family and I used to point at the TV and scream in excitement if there was an Asian on TV: “THERE’S AN ASIAN ON THE TEEEE-VEEEEEEEE!” But there was definitely celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong, on Good Morning Australia, and Dr Cindy Pan on sex/life, and I remember seeing Clara Law’s beautiful feature Floating Life, which affected me a lot. But I’d usually look overseas for Asian representation on screen. I mean, I watched The Joy Luck Club A LOT. But it’s getting better nowadays, and reality TV has done heaps to reflect how diverse Australia actually is. You see a lot more Asian-Australians in local comedies and dramas, but not nearly enough.
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What are you looking forward to in the future on Australian television?
I’m really looking forward to Lawrence Leung’s kung-fu comedy Maximum Choppage on ABC2 next year.
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