Alana de Freitas: Before the Dawn

October 27, 2019
The Australian actress landed in LA with a dream, which she is quickly turning into a reality.

Can you tell us about your experience of moving to the States to pursue an acting career? And has the experience been what you expected it to be?

Sure. It was rough at first. I came out here, and I didn’t have any friends or family in LA, so I felt very lonely. I didn’t have anyone to go out and explore with, or even just socialise. It was when I started getting involved with some acting schools that I really started to build a community and make friends. The Beverly Hills Playhouse has a great community, and that has become like a second family for me. In terms of working, I’m not sure what I expected. I knew it would be competitive. I don’t think most people realise how much time and effort goes into cultivating a career in acting. There’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes, and I’m not even talking about auditioning. The networking, the creation of marketing materials, the meetings, the list goes on. It can feel like a bit of a hamster wheel at times, but it’s worth it.

Coming from Australia where performing is a hobby for most, rather than a profession, what’s the experience like of being in LA where it’s such a big business?

I love it! I love driving down Sunset and seeing all the billboards for the different shows coming out. I think you definitely have to remember that it is a business though and that everybody is selling or buying something. There’s a lot of ‘talk’ that you can get reeled in by if you just believe everything you hear. I think when you first get here, every meeting and offer can seem so exciting, but those encounters actually eventuating into something happening can be a whole other story. But in terms of comparing it to the market in Australia. It’s just a much larger scale. There’s so much more opportunity here. But there’s also a lot more competition here.

Can you speak about the experience of being in LA with an Australian accent? Is that something you are out and proud with, or do you have to be strategic about letting casting people know?

Mmm. That’s a tough one. I talk with other Aussie actor friends about this a bit, and there are different opinions. On the one hand, I feel like people are so receptive to Aussies over here. We have such a good reputation thanks to people like Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Margot Robbie, etc. But on the other hand, sometimes casting will be focusing more on if you can do the accent than your performance if you let on that you’re not from here. In meetings, I use my normal accent, but in auditions, I will limit my talking before the audition and use a US accent. But once the audition is over, I’m happy to let on that I’m Australian. It’s always nice to surprise them with that.

Am I right in saying that you also wrote Before the Dawn? If so, what inspired the story?

I did! Before the Dawn is about a teacher-student relationship. What inspired me was the fact that you would hear about these situations every other week in the news, and I wanted to explore why these things keep happening. What are the circumstances in these people’s lives that push them together?

Was you having the lead role always a part of the plan in writing the screenplay?

Totally. What actually motivated me to write it was that I was so sick of the same lame breakdowns where every other role required full nudity, or just had really out of touch dialogue for the female characters. So, I just decided to create the role I wanted to play. It sounds so simple when I say it like that, but it was a lot of work getting the film made, much more than I had anticipated.

Is acting the priority for you, or is writing a part of the plan as well?

I hadn’t realised how much I enjoy writing and producing until Before the Dawn. I definitely plan to do more writing. I have so many ideas in various stages of development. I’m pitching a horror/thriller at the moment, which I’m quite excited about. But acting is definitely the priority. I enjoy getting to live in all these other worlds too much to give that up.

Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?

Sure. I shot a horror film in Buffalo called Bashira that should be released early in 2020. That is going to be a lot of fun. The director, Nickson Fong, is an Academy Award-winning visual effects artist, and the film has a lot of VFX, so I can’t wait to see the finished product. I also have a comedy film called Cash Collectors that I will be shooting soon. It will be nice to do something a little lighter. I think that’s going to be a lot of fun! And there are a few other things in the pipeline, but it’s a little too soon to be talking about those.

Do you hope to work in Australia down the track as well?

Absolutely! I’d love to! All of my family is in Australia, so any time at home is great! I’m a Melbourne girl, and I’m a huge fan of Wentworth, so I would love to be involved with that if the right role came up and the timing worked out. I’m actually heading back to Australia in November for the holidays, which I’m really looking forward to!

Before the Dawn is available on Prime Video

For more on Alana de Freitas, check out her website.

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