Multi-talented Amelia Ayris has written new web series The Misadventures of Sarah and Kin, which she will also be starring in, and her debut piece of work, Short Sleeves, is currently being shown at international film festivals and has received numerous award nominations. Amelia played the lead role of Aida in the film One Room, telling the story of the impact caused by sexual abuse, and she is now a Junior Ambassador for Australia’s largest Child Protection organisation Bravehearts. We found out from Amelia recently about The Misadventures of Sarah and Kin, her production Short Sleeves and filming for One Room as Aida.
Can you tell us about Short Sleeves and how long was it in the making?
Short Sleeves is my first original short film. I’ve worked on many different sets and played many different characters, but this was my vision. I wrote the film in December 2018 and filmed in March this year. There was a lot of work done over those four months – rewriting scripts, casting, pre-production. A huge learning experience.
Short Sleeves is being shown at international film festivals, how is this going and how is it being award-nominated for your work?
Just to write, produce and act in my own short film felt pretty surreal but to actually have your work recognised is next level. So far, Short Sleeves is an Official Selection in three US film festivals. And a few weeks ago, I was informed that we are nominated for seven awards at the Australian Screen Industry Networks Awards, which is a huge honour. Personally, I’m up for Best Film, Best Screenwriter and Best Lead Actress.
What can you say about the feature film One Room and your character Aida?
One Room is a dramatic production which tells the story of sexual abuse and its impact throughout the life of the victim. The material is very confronting, but real and so well told. I play the lead role of Aida. One Room is about Aida’s mother, so my character sees a lot of dysfunction. Aida is young, but strong and so loyal to her mother.
How long did it take to film and what was the most challenging aspect of the role?
Filming was done over about four weeks. The material is confronting, so many of the scenes were challenging for me. The one that sticks out for me is the suicide attempt scene, where my character discovers her unconscious mother. It’s a situation I’ve not experienced on a personal level so I had to dig deep to bring the right energy and emotion to the scene.
What drew you to the script and what did you think when reading it for the first time?
I love to act, so any chance to be creative is always a bonus. But I also like to be a part of telling an important story. When I read the script, some of it was a little uncomfortable to read, but the story being told has to be painted accurately. I knew I wanted to be a part of the production as soon as I read the script. I wanted to be a part of something meaningful.
What has the response been like from those that have seen the production?
It’s been amazing actually. We filmed the entire feature some time ago, but the writer decided to release it as a teaser trailer due to the interest it was generating. So, earlier this year, the trailer was released, and there is currently negotiations between the writer and big production companies in the US and Australia who want to re-tell the story with a bigger budget. It’s all pretty exciting. And my performance was well-received, so it’s nice to know I’ve contributed positively to its success.
As Junior Ambassador for Bravehearts, can you tell us what this involves and how long have you been working with them?
Bravehearts is Australia’s largest Child Protection organisation. It’s a high-profile organisation that provides support and education in relation to child sexual abuse. One in five Australian children are sexually assaulted before the age of eighteen. I’ve been an Ambassador for around eight months now, and it’s so important to bring awareness to the issue.
What can you say about The Misadventures of Sarah and Kin?
This is another project I have written. It’s a comedy web series about Sarah and the funny situations she gets into with her family and friends. It’s hard enough being a teenager, but it’s harder with a kooky family. We have filmed two episodes so far, and have ten in the first season. It’s a lot of fun.
What professional theatre work have you done and how was the experience?
I started amateur theatre as a seven-year-old, initially in supporting roles and then onto lead roles. When I was nine, I auditioned for the professional Australian Tour of The Sound of Music. I auditioned over four days with over 1000 other kids, and after an excruciating wait, I was cast as Marta. The experience is one that will always be very special to me. I worked with some incredibly talented and accomplished performers. I was lucky enough to be in Opening Night and all the Media Calls as well.
Along with film work, you’re also a model and voiceover artist, can you tell us more about this?
Yes, I’ve done some modelling. A bit of catwalk and a lot of photographic work. I have taken after my mother in the short department, so there’s definitely no longevity there. But it’s important to portray a positive body image to my peers and help teach people to appreciate themselves inside and out. Voiceover work is fantastic. I worked on a project earlier this year with some exciting announcements coming soon. It’s so much fun to get into the sound booth and bring your character to life only using your voice. I’m an expressive person so there’s still a lot of movement and facial expressions, but you just don’t get to see it.
We understand you are also a vocalist and musician, what do you enjoy about this side of your career?
Yes, I’ve been singing since I was seven. And I’m self-taught on piano and guitar. I love music. Everything about it is fantastic. I sing professionally at events around Brisbane and meet lots of amazing people. I’ve recently secured a full arts scholarship for school in 2020 and been accepted into the Music Excellence Program. I’m really looking forward to exploring my music more and hoping to record an original song soon.
How long have you been acting and when did you start writing your own productions?
I started Theatre at seven years old and Screen at eight years old. I guess I’ve always been creative and informally written, but it’s over the past twelve months I’ve really taken it seriously. I have a little book of ideas and when I’m inspired, I type away.
What drew you to the industry?
I’ve always loved performing. I started dance classes when I was two years old and it just progressed. There’s something special about being able to inspire someone or make them laugh or see them relate to a character you’re playing. It just feels as though this is what I was born to do.
What upcoming career plans do you have?
I have another short film I wrote currently in pre-production. And I have some projects in LA in the works which is exciting. Right now is about being creative, improving my skills, getting a solid education and enjoying being a teenager. I’m just enjoying the journey and trusting where it takes me.
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