Filmink Magazine chats to Screenwise CEO, Denise Roberts, about Screenwise Acting School and her experiences as one of Australia’s much loved actresses.
Reproduced with permission from Filmink.
Behind the Scenes: The people that make the movies
Denise Roberts: Founder/CEO of Screenwise Acting School
WHAT? Screenwise has nurtured some of Australia’s biggest names, including Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers), Isabel Lucas (Immortals), Todd Lasance (Spartacus), Christian Clark (Home And Away), and many more.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST WANT TO GET INTO YOUR PROFESSION? “When I got the role of Julie Winters on the TV series, GP, I was astounded at how little actors knew about working on a set. I decided that when my contract was finished, I would open an acting school specifically designed for film and television. Hence Screenwise, the first government accredited registered training organisation, which offers the very first two-year full-time Diploma Of Screen Acting (10065NAT). Screenwise was the first to recognise the need for a drama school specifically designed to teach the art of screen acting, offering current working industry professional actors, directors and technicians as its tutors.”
STUDY? “I graduated a Diploma Of Performance at Ensemble Studios in 1985. I also completed a producer’s course and a script editing course at AFTRS, and a director’s course at Metro Screen. When I’m not teaching at Screenwise, I attend masterclasses overseas to ensure that the techniques and methodology being taught at Screenwise are the best that the industry can offer.”
FIRST JOB? “I won a role in Sons & Daughters playing the kidnapper of Beryl’s baby. Twelve months later, I won another role in the same show playing another kidnapper who kidnaps the same baby. In both roles, I had to get chased and then land on the ground in the same spot every take. By the time that we’d wrapped, my knees were red raw.”
BEST EXPERIENCE? “I worked on GP for over six years. The stories that show explored changed people’s lives. It was also the start of many long lasting relationships. Many of the show’s actors and directors now tutor at Screenwise.”
MY JOB RULES… “…because I get to see my graduates do so well in the industry. I remember how proud I was when Todd Lasance (Spartacus, Cloud Street, Crownies) won the Silver Logie for Best Actor, and George Houvardas (Packed To The Rafters) was nominated for Best New Talent. That was a double whammy.”
MY JOB DOESN’T RULE BECAUSE… “…I sometimes see actors blame everything and everyone else except their own laziness as to why they’re not working.”
GREATEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT YOUR JOB? “That acting is easy. It’s a profession like any other profession, and it demands hard work and discipline.”
DOES SIZE MATTER? BIG BUDGET OR LOW BUDGET? “It doesn’t matter how much the budget is if it’s a good script. But there are many actors who have been unemployed for so long that they’re willing to grab just about anything. I feel sorry for them because they often end up being exploited. The business of acting is an important subject on our curriculum at Screenwise, so our students can make informed decisions and avoid the dangers.”
WORDS OF WISDOM “Do it properly. Apply for a proper vocational course. There are too many people out there who want to fast track their acting careers. They expose themselves to directors and casting consultants when they’re not ready, and end up damaging their careers.”
FAVOURITE PEOPLE THAT YOU’VE WORKED WITH? “I’ve been in this profession for more than 32 years. It would be easier to list the people that I didn’t enjoy working with!”
I’D LOVE TO WORK WITH… “David Michod. I loved Animal Kingdom.”
Image Courtesy of Filmink