Questions and answers with actor Georgia Blizzard
We zoom chat with Australian actor Georgia Blizzard on self-taping, subjectivity and her role in The Singapore Grip.
Interviewed by INDEX
Photographed by Adam Bryce
Tell us about your childhood in Tasmania. Were you a creative child?
I’ve always felt at home in the arts. When I think of my childhood, I think of afternoons and weekends crammed with dance lessons and rehearsals for local productions, singing eisteddfods and school concerts, and spending every second of my free time scribbling in notebooks, scrapbooking, drawing, painting, fumbling with instruments, writing songs in my bedroom, creating dance routines with my friends, and rejoicing whenever a ‘craft-based’ activity became trendy and cool (I must have made 8042 keychains in the summer of ‘scoobie strings’). Growing up in Tasmania I wasn’t really exposed to the performing arts as an ‘industry’, I just knew that these were the things that made me feel excited and most like myself. I’m still the same way now; obviously acting has become my profession but my spare time is consumed with all sorts of creative outlets; things I’m not trying to monetise, but that I do purely for the joy and comfort they bring me.
You were born in the advent of the internet. How do you think this medium has affected your industry?
One major shift is the way we audition and the opportunities that have opened up globally as a result. Self-taping has become incredibly common, meaning you film your audition scenes at home as opposed to meeting physically with the casting director.
For both Home and Away which shoots in Sydney and Thor: Ragnarok which shot in Queensland, I sent in self-tapes from Tasmania when I was home visiting family. For The Singapore Grip, a British production shooting in Malaysia, I did the entire audition process — three self-tapes and a Skype session with the director and producer — from Sydney, meaning I landed a lead in a huge British drama without ever having set foot in the UK.
For actors living outside of the industry hubs, and for actors in globally isolated locations such as Australia and New Zealand, I think self-taping has broken down a lot of the barriers that previously kept certain jobs out of reach.
Talk us through the way you act. Do you work off the feedback of others to gauge your performance or self-gauge? Do you watch or listen to yourself, or playback the motions in your mind in order to measure your work?
I think every process is different and, in a lot of ways, I’m still figuring out what works for me. I really enjoy the collaborative nature of working with a director and, in that way, feedback can be really helpful. But I also think there’s a lot to be said for coming prepared and then just trusting yourself… at the end of the day art is subjective, so as long as I’m delivering something that feels good to me then that’s all I can really control.
Starring as a lead in six-part mini-series, The Singapore Grip, you were based in Malaysia for the location shooting. A James Gordon Farrell story, World War II was full force and 1940s surrounds and style abound. How did these consuming aspects affect your work?
Being surrounded by that colonial architecture, riding in those 1940s cars, and experiencing the intensity of the Malaysian heat was such a gift in understanding the world that these characters inhabited. I found the costumes really helped me step in and out of character as there was such a clear distinction between how I arrived in the morning and how I looked by the time I arrived on set.
Equally at the end of the day, stepping out of those dresses and throwing my hair up really helped me leave the work there, instead of carrying it home with me.
Do you feel compelled to stay in character as much as possible or do you freely switch between yourself and that of your character? And do you see one as being better than the other?
I tend to drop in and out. I love the in-between moments on set, the camaraderie, the playfulness, and connecting with the people I’m working with. In saying that, I’ve not yet had to do anything too harrowing on-screen, perhaps that would be a different experience…
Do you have any odd habits that work in your favour when finding a connection with a story? With the mind and innate reactions of another? Fictional or not.
Hmm… not exactly an ‘odd habit’ but I’m a very emotional person and I feel things very deeply. I really just love people, connecting with them and hearing their stories. When I meet people, I always try to lead with empathy and I think that’s the same philosophy I have when approaching a character.
Has the pandemic changed the way you feel about work? Acting? Where you are in your life and your future?
For me, this year has been an exercise in staying present and trying not to fixate on the future. It’s been quite difficult to see the impact it’s had and continues to have on our industry… but, for me, it’s really reinforced how much humans need art.
In a time that has been so difficult for so many, all around me, I see people taking comfort in watching film and television, in listening to music, in reading books and taking up new crafts and hobbies, and I have certainly found solace in all of these things. I suppose that’s my overwhelming feeling; immense gratitude for the perseverance and tenacity of artists.