Young Australian actor Bella Rose has appeared in many short films, including this year’s release of Bella the Strange as the titled character Bella, and she was awarded Best Supporting Actress at the Griffith University Drama Production Awards last year for her performance in Paradise, in which she played an abuse victim. Recently, Bella starred as Bliss Anderson in the ten-episode online micro-series Byte Size Bliss, with her role having been written specially for her, and she has just finished filming two upcoming feature films – Magdala Rose and Jiva. Amongst Bella’s other projects, she has been part of the superhero film Aquaman, filmed for her first children’s TV show Pipsqueaks, was a presenter for LEGO, and has worked as a model. Talking with Bella, we found out about her role of Bliss Anderson in the online micro-series Byte Size Bliss, working on children’s TV series Pipsqueaks and winning an award for her role of Willow in short film Paradise.
Your character Bliss Anderson in the recent release of Byte Size Bliss was written specially for you, can you tell us about this online series?
This is a ten-episode micro-series written, produced and directed by acting coach Tina Thomsen. The character Bliss Anderson was developed specially for me and was inspired by my inner geek girl, my love of computer programming and robotics, some of my favourite shows iCarly and Bizaardvark and the popular teenage dream of being a YouTube star. It’s the “real life” behind the scenes life of a YouTuber, the excitement and the compromises.
This year, you played the title role of Bella in short film Bella the Strange, how did this come about and what was it like to film?
Bella the Strange was an interesting role. It came about when a local filmmaker was inspired to write the script after he saw a photo of me from a creepy photoshoot. He called Mum, sent a script and asked if we wanted to make a short film. The character was shot in different moods, Bella as both evil and as an ordinary kid, it’s about perception. The idea is that strange (like beauty) is in the eyes of the beholder.
What was Aquaman like to work on and how long were you on set for this role?
I was only on set for two days. It was the biggest film set I have ever been on, filmed in a studio at Village Roadshow on the Gold Coast. There were so many crew. The most interesting part of the experience was I had a “twin”. With precision casting, matching wardrobe, clever hair and makeup, the production created two identical casts of kids as Arthur’s Classmates. Each cast of kids worked up to eight hours of the day so that the production could film for up to 16 hours.
You won Best Supporting Actress at the Griffith University Drama Production Awards for your portrayal of Willow in the short film Paradise, how did this feel?
There were so many exciting things about receiving this award – it was my first acting award, it was from Griffith University Film School, which is where I want to study when I finish high school, and my grandma had come to the screening to see me in a film on the big cinema screen for the first time. My grandma is my biggest fan and it was so special to share the experience with her.
How much do you remember from your time on the TV series Pipsqueaks?
Pipsqueaks was my first children’s TV show. I was a child guest who was interviewed by four very, very big fluffy puppets. The show was about little kids teaching the puppets all about the world around them. I heard there were kids who arrived on set and were scared of the puppets so didn’t talk to them. Mum said I was a chatterbox and a clever little kid who loved talking about anything and everything. Initially I was booked for one episode, but I stayed on set longer than planned the first day, got a few callbacks and I think I did about eight episodes. I was an “expert” seven-year-old on topics like clouds, vacuum cleaners, xylophones, tall buildings, toy shops and street sweepers.
What would you say has been your most challenging role to film so far?
In 2017, I was cast as a Neanderthal Girl in a Japanese documentary on the Evolution of Man. The role was at the same time my most interesting and challenging role. I was performing on set in front of a very large Australian and Japanese film crew. My SFX makeup included prosthetic teeth and cotton balls in my gums. My role was mostly physical acting and the only words I said were in an indigenous language.
Do you know which of your projects can be seen in the UK?
It’s hard to keep track of projects once you have completed filming. Most short films are submitted to international film festivals, and the children’s TV shows may have some distribution in the UK.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to become an actor and how did you start?
I was six years old and recognised some of the older students from my dance school on TV in commercials. It took me almost a year to convince my mum and dad that I wanted to be an actor. I would drive them crazy by re-enacting scenes from TV shows in the ad breaks. My very first audition with a casting director landed me the Hero Child of a National Commercial for a new attraction opening at a Village Roadshow Theme Park – Movieworld. To say it was a fun experience is a massive understatement. I think I did a good job because I have worked for the Theme Park on various projects every year since then.
Can you tell us about your training and have you done any theatre work?
I have trained at Theatre and Dance for the past seven years, in Musical Theatre, Jazz, Ballet and Tap Dancing, I also study drama at school, and attend acting for screen workshops. My favourite place to learn is on university student films. We have a lot of film schools in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The practical experience attending in-room auditions, production meetings, script table reads and being on set is invaluable. I think I have worked on over 40 student films in the past five years. I am a member of my local community theatre company, Queensland Musical Theatre, and have been cast in two musicals. Performing on stage is exciting. My favourite role was a singing and dancing mouse in Cinderella – the mice even got a special mention in one of the amazing theatre reviews for the show.
Do you have a technique for learning scripts?
I first draw a picture of the character and write lots of thoughts and feelings about the character, this gets me in the mood and mind of the character. I do a script analysis on what is happening in the scene, then after that things get a bit strange… I read my lines in lots of different funny voices, different accents and usually sing the lines as well – Mum says I can turn any scene into a musical theatre performance.
You have previously been a presenter for LEGO, what did this involve?
So much LEGO on set, and so many LEGO fans in one room. Everyone on set – all the crew, the production people, clients, the hair and makeup team – were all LEGO fans and between takes everyone talked LEGO. I loved this role. I arrived on set early and started the day building an Amusement Park in LEGO, and whilst the director was talking through the filming schedule, everyone was around a big table building LEGO. It was definitely one of the most fun sets I have been on.
We understand you also work as a model, can you tell us about some of your recent modelling work?
My last modelling assignment was for a fancy new resort on the Gold Coast. I had to smile a lot whilst enjoying the resort rooms, restaurants and facilities. My fake family and I were very spoilt on the shoot!
What do you enjoy most about acting?
I love the process of studying a new character, becoming someone else, and then stepping into a story. If there is SFX makeup I also get a bit excited about that.
Do you have any projects you are currently working on or have coming up that you can tell us about?
I have just wrapped filming on two locally produced feature films Magdala Rose, a medieval docudrama, and Jiva, a sci-fi thriller. At the moment, I am hoping to have a break over summer, although I have four scripts to learn with productions planned for early 2019.
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