Kiama local Emily Stratten, 25, wrote in a preschool book when she was four years old that she wanted to be an actor.
At the age of 13, she began her professional acting career on the Disney Show, and has since performed alongside US comedian Kevin Hart and Academy Award nominee James Cromwell.
At 17, she founded the Kiama Acting Studio and juggled her time between Kiama and Los Angeles.
She said LA “feels like home” and a place where she can “thrive” as an actor.
“There’s no other place like LA if you want to be an actor in the entertainment industry,” she said.
“Where I am [in LA], there are so many people involved in the industry, whether it’s an actor or a director, a writer or a producer,” she said.
This year she will play the lead in ‘Blacktress’, a comedic series about two friends that go to LA to become actors.
She said she enjoyed performing comical and witty roles that required improvisation, a skill she developed at a number of acting schools including the Margie Haber Studio and Amy Poehler’s Upright Citizens Brigade.
“I love playing someone who is more than just a pretty face or a love interest. I love playing someone that is smart and determined, and someone I can relate to,” she said.
She said working with James Cromwell in sci-fi short ‘The Immortal’ (2017) and Kevin Hart in a comedy series ‘Rahat’s Terror Traps’ (2018) were “surreal” experiences and she looked forward to working with other accomplished actors.
“Tina Fey is definitely one of my biggest role models because she is an actor, but she’s also a director, a creator, a writer and a business woman. I look up to her a lot,” she said.
In 2015, the Kiama Council awarded Ms Stratten Young Citizen of the Year at the Australia Day Awards for her dedication to the community. She said it was an honour to be supported by Kiama in her acting endeavours.
She said it was important for Australians to recognise and support Australian TV and cinema so our professionals in the industry can be recognised internationally.
“If you ask an Australian what films they’ve watched in the last year, they’re going to name all the international films,” she said.
She said it was important to be open-minded to Australian stories that might not observe the traditional Hollywood form.
“If we start looking at films that are made in our country – watching them, talking about them, sharing them and taking their friends to the cinemas to watch them – I think we can build the industry here.”
“We should show more Australian films on Sunday movie nights on the big TV networks... Let’s not play ‘The Holiday’ ten times or those films that get replayed,” she said.
You can find more information about Emily Stratten at www.emilystratten.com.