Interview of Sophie Don by Freya Bennett
Hey Sophie. How are you?
I’m great, thanks!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a 25-year-old actress from Sydney, my overnight suitcase is my best friend, and this question is seriously hard to answer. I love heist movies, my mum is my hero, and I have an unhealthy obsession with cheese.
What is something you are passionate about?
Cooking and good food! I’m one of those crazy people who prefers to stay home and cook on a Saturday night instead of going out and partying. So much so, that for my 21st birthday I was actually excited to get an Italian risotto pan, a cast iron pot, a hand blender with all the attachments, and some cook books as presents. My eyes basically fall out of my head every time I’m at a food market or a deli and I follow far too many food blogs.
When did you start acting, and has it always been your goal?
I always loved movies and being on stage, and I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house where that was encouraged, but truthfully it never really occurred to me that it could be a job. The idea of being an actor for a living seemed like this foreign concept. It wasn’t until I was midway through my first semester of a journalism degree that I realized that I was the only person there not interested in being a journalist! From there I began soul-searching and kept coming back to acting as the one thing that I loved unconditionally. I auditioned for acting schools, and really it was once I got in and was studying that my eyes were opened to the profession and the industry and it was game over for me.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming film, Red Billabong.
The film has so much going on that I often find it hard to sum it up succinctly! It’s this awesome hybrid-genre action film with the self-deprecating humour that is quintessentially Australian. It’s an exciting creature feature set in the bush, and follows the story of two brothers and their group of friends. A few of them go missing, there’s a developer with questionable motives, there’s a bit of romance, a lot of hilarious one-liners and some really impressive action sequences. It’s honestly got something for everyone. If people are concerned about it being scary, they should know the tone is in the vein of Jurassic Park. Not to mention there’s a female character that may or may not have done pretty much all of her own stunts.
Can you tell us a bit about the process of getting a role in a film?
It’s always different for each project, but generally you get the audition through your agent, and then go through the process of recalls with the director and producers until they decide whether or not you’re the right fit for the role. For Red Billabong it was a little different. I had worked with Luke Sparke, the director, on a previous project called “Yesterday is History” and he approached me with the role of Anya while we were on set. I read for the role and got the call a week later that I’d gotten the job!
What is the filming process like?
Again, it’s different for every job. It’s always exciting being on set—there’s always something happening and everyone is working together to create this movie magic. It’s incredibly collaborative which I love. That said, it’s rarely as glamorous as people imagine. It’s long hours with very early mornings and very late nights, and you’re always up against the clock to get all the shots you need in time.
What is the best part about filming?
Definitely the catering! I always have to remind myself when I’m on set that my stomach is not as big as my eyes, because the food is usually amazing and there’s always too much of it! (Did I mention I’m passionate about food?)
What is the hardest part?
The early mornings. I love my job and wouldn’t trade being on set for anything in the world. But when you’re driving to work and the moon is still up from the night before, it definitely makes you grateful for the magical make up artist whose job it is to hide the dark circles under your eyes.
What do you hope to achieve over the next 5 years?
One of the toughest things about this career is that it’s very unpredictable. Jobs and auditions pop up at times when you least expect them; there’s a lot of waiting to hear back and it can be very hard to make any sort of real plans in advance. So honestly, I would love to be in a position where I’m working consistently, on projects I’m passionate about, and able to create some stability for myself. I’d love to land a job on a great TV series in the US. I think the shows that are coming out, as well as the roles in them for women, are some of the best they’ve ever been.
What advice do you have for girls wanting to get into acting?
What I would offer is what I’ve learned so far from my own experiences. Do acting classes, try and get into a course at one of the incredible training institutions offered around the world, or at least find a way to learn more about the craft of acting. It will also likely help you recognize if you’re passionate about it as an art form, or just as an idea. I literally Googled “acting schools in Australia” when I first started out, that’s how little I knew about the industry! Once I was around all of these incredible teachers and directors, it was then that I realized that the job was so much more than I originally thought.
I would also say that it’s really important to work out what your boundaries are; don’t wait for someone else to set them for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with something, there’s no rule that says you have to be willing to do anything just to prove you’re a “real actor”. Ultimately, if it’s what you want to be doing, then don’t stop looking for ways to break in until you’ve found one that works. People notice someone who works hard and is always willing to learn.
If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
Definitely something else in the industry. There’s nothing quite like it!
What do you wish you could tell 13-year-old Sophie?
To not spend as much time and energy worrying about what other people think, and trying to always get things “right.” That being a teenager is tough enough as it is, and that it would be a lot easier if you can be kind to yourself.
Also, in a year when you massacre your eyebrows with tweezers and tell everyone that your beautician did it, no one will believe you.
What is your favourite thing to do when you have time off?
I’m a big TV binge watcher. Generally when I’m busy I try to avoid getting hooked on a new show because I pretty much can’t sleep until I’ve finished it. So when things get quiet, I absolutely love to just get stuck into a quality TV series.
If you could visit any place in the world right now, where would you go?
I have been dying to go back to Italy. I went in my gap year when I was 18 and still haven’t managed to get back! I’d love to just hire a car and drive through the countryside and eat cheese and pizza and dammit I’m talking about food again.
Why is equality important to you?
Truthfully I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be important to anyone. There are so many incredible minds in the world that aren’t currently reaching their full potential because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic position. It’s an incredible thought to think how much the world could benefit if more people had greater opportunities to succeed. It’s great to see that the issue of equality seems to now really be in the spotlight and I’m hopeful about where things will go from here.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“You are not obligated to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”