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Part 3: advice from Samara Weaving & Angourie Rice

Two of Australia’s rising stars Samara Weaving and Angourie Rice give their thoughts on navigating visas, agents, managers and publicists.

Samara Weaving

Credits: Home and Away, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri and Picnic at Hanging Rock

The 26-year-old Adelaide native played popular character Indi Walker on Home and Away from 2009–2013

<small>Samara Weaving in <em>Picnic at Hanging Rock</em> / Photo credit Ben King</small> Samara Weaving in Picnic at Hanging Rock / Photo credit Ben King

After appearing on Neighbours for four years, Samara Weaving was ready to try her luck in the US but discovered she would need a lot of patience.

“Everyone’s story is different and I haven’t seen a pattern or a list of things to tick off that guarantees you can move to the US,” she acknowledges. “But I was living in Australia and going to the US for a few months at a time on and off for two or three years until I signed with a manager and they helped me audition for The Babysitter.” That title role in the high-profile American film resulted in the actress finally landing a visa that allowed her to make the move permanent. “Warner Bros not only paid for and sponsored a five-year visa for me to work in the US,” she adds, “but they flew me to Canada for a night and had a handler meet me at immigration and walk me through the whole process so it was painless.”

Weaving credits her team of Australian and American representation with introducing her to the key people that moved her career forward. “When I finally made the move to the States, they really helped me,” she says. “I’d heard horror stories about managers that don’t pay you any attention and aren’t getting the best jobs for you but mine were hands on and helped get me in the room for auditions for both SMILF (the Golden Globe nominated Showtime series) and (Oscar-nominated Best Picture) Three Billboards from Ebbing, Missouri.”

“I’ve gotten really good at being a professional ‘auditioner’,” she adds. “You end up doing a huge number of auditions in the US and preparation is key. I found a great drama coach in LA who also taught me tricks of the trade to do a good audition. You only get one shot and they’re maybe paying attention for less than a minute when you go into one of those rooms, so you want to make sure it counts.”

MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE

“People can easily forget to focus on their craft while worrying about getting representation or other problems. Don’t be overwhelmed by the administration you have to do and really take time out to focus on your craft and auditions. Just keep being creative, no matter what.”


ANGOURIE RICE

Credits: The Nice Guys, The Beguiled, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ladies in Black, Jasper Jones, These Final Hours

The 17-year-old Melbourne actress began doing short films at eight years of age and went to the Cannes Film Festival with her 2013 feature film debut, These Final Hours

<small>Angourie Rice in <em>The Beguiled</em></small> Angourie Rice in The Beguiled

Angourie Rice was only 13 years old when she accompanied her small Australian film, These Final Hours, to the Cannes Film Festival and was signed by her American agent. “I was really nervous to film in America but they got me a film, The Nice Guys, and I ended up getting a working visa that allowed me to stay,” recalls the Melbourne actress.

Rice is now taking a break to finish high school, after co-starring in Bruce Beresford’s upcoming Australian film, Ladies in Black, but says working with both Russell Crowe on the 2016 film The Nice Guys and Nicole Kidman on the 2017 drama The Beguiled were great opportunities to see how other Aussies navigated the US.

“I learned so much from them and they were so generous with advice,” she says. “I remember we were about to do a photo call in Cannes and I asked Nicole if she still got nervous. She said, ‘no, I’m not nervous, but it’s still unnatural and you just have to remember it’s never going to be normal’ and that really helped a lot.”

Trying to understand the US system of agents and managers took some time, Rice adds. “The way it was explained to me, how it works in the US, is that an agent might represent three girls who are 17 and blonde with blue eyes but managers only have one, so you talk to them about certain roles and they only care about you getting the role. I did have an American manager for a while but I felt like my Australian agent was similar to my American manager. Also now I have two American agents and one Australian agent and we all work together to figure out what’s best.”

Although the actress had not hired a publicist for other high-profile roles in the past, she recently signed with 42 West, the same company that represents Nicole Kidman, to promote her starring role in the US film, Every Day. “Once you get a lead role, it’s a turning point and the press is intense so I decided to get a publicist,” she says. “I know it’ll also help when I’m older and my mum isn’t with me in America, making decisions.”

The Aussie actress says she’s always been passionate about acting, pursuing it from an early age. “I got my start doing short films for university students,” she reveals. “Often they have open casting calls, so I did short films I got to add to my resume and then one of the short films I did got a grant for the director and producer to turn it into a feature film (what would become These Final Hours). They cast me again and that led to me getting an agent!”

Working in Hollywood might sound glamorous, but Rice says she’s also grateful to spend time in Australia to avoid losing perspective. “My home is so far from the glitz and glamor that it’s really helped me cope with being in the industry,” she says. “I can live my normal life with my family and school and friends and stay grounded while I prepare for roles.”

MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE

“Find work wherever you can. I worked on student films, but there are lots of ways you can act even if you’re not paid for it. Join a theatre company or just learn by doing it and then you learn from your mistakes early.”