by Dov Kornits

“I think I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about how to get out of the industry than pursuing it, but I always manage to land a gig before getting out,” says actress Jolene Anderson, who appears in a small role in the ensemble comedic drama Book Week.

It’s a common dilemma for artists in this country, who struggle to make a proper living even though in the eyes of the general public, fame and wealth are seemingly in the same ballpark.

Jolene Anderson grew up in the country, dabbled in drama at high school, sang and danced overseas, and then decided to pursue acting “because of my adoration for film and with that, my love for story. I grew up on the mid north coast of NSW and the beautiful thing about growing up in the country when I did, was the fact that you really had to create your own fun. I believe there were only two TV stations in my early years, so my friends and I were forever outdoors industrially building cubby houses and playing make believe, hence making story!”

She attended an acting school in Sydney and landed a role on TV’s All Saints during her study. Since then she has worked regularly – theatre, TV, films – and has recently completed a writing degree to broaden her prospects.

Jolene’s latest acting role is in Heath Davis’s comedy Book Week, and as is the way in the small local industry, it was through helping the writer/director find his leading man that she landed a role herself. “I met Heath a year ago at his film premiere of Broke,” she tells us about an event that FilmInk actually presented (pats on back). “Heath and I have a similar love of story and film, and while helping find his leading man in Book Week, he offered me the role of sassy Officer Hurley. The script was intelligent and the characters an actor’s dream to sink your teeth into. I loved playing Officer Hurley.”

One of Jolene’s best-known roles was on TV’s Rush, in which she also played a police officer, and the obvious question is, does she fear typecasting? “I have no issues with donning the uniform once more,” she answers. “Typecast or not, I was eager to bring my scenes in Book Week to life. Knowing that Heath’s film was a comedy allowed me to amp it up and play more in the role. Actually, it was my first casting in a comedy and I had a blast.”

The aforementioned leading man that Jolene was helping to find ended up being perennial character actor Alan Dukes, who impresses as Mr Cutler, a high school English teacher who really just wants to quit to pursue being an author, and who is sleeping with a number of women in his orbit, and treating them all pretty badly.

“I’ve met actors who are like Nicolas Cutler!” says Jolene when we ask her whether she has known men like him. “All brooding and serious like the old adage of what an actor should be. We all have strong convictions about our identity and I believe someone like Cutler who chases his dreams regardless of constant success is admirable to people who refuse to act on their creative endeavours.”

Continuing to chase her own dreams, Jolene Anderson has been acting in various other feature films, including in the US. “I spent a few years in LA and with that made great contacts,” she says. “I worked on a Blumhouse film in a jungle in Malaysia which is due to come out soon – Prey. I shot a pilot for Warner Bros, last year in South Africa but unfortunately it didn’t get picked up but the experience and travel was great. I ventured into the horror genre in Living Space where I played a German post WWII mother who haunted a house. The latest film, The Dust Walker was filmed in Cue in Western Australia this year where I played a… you guessed it…. a cop! It is a sci-fi apocalyptic script shot over four weeks in a small town with a population of 118 people! Such a great experience. I met the divine Stef Dawson who played my sister.”

And in a film entitled Book Week, we have to ask Jolene what’s her personal experience of this annual ritual? “I remember adoring book week because I have a mother who is an excellent seamstress, so I could choose any character from any book that I desired! Red Riding Hood comes to mind, but that was only one of the many costumes from book week as a child. I do remember reading a lot not only at school but at home as a child. That was a result from the schools I attended combined with my mother and grandfather – who was an English History teacher – forever gifting myself and siblings with books.”

Book Week is in cinemas from October 25, 2018

Read our review of Book Week.

Read our interview with Book Week writer/director Heath Davis.

Check where Book Week is playing near you.

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