Actress Zenith Ander Wins ‘Best Web / TV Series’ for YouTube Series ‘Roommates’
Zenith, tell us a little more about how you got into acting!
Thanks for reaching out to me DARK!
I’m excited to be chatting with you!
My acting career started in children’s theater while I was still at high school.
I landed the first role I ever auditioned for with Jack of all Trades Productions.
It was a two-shows a day, a two-week run and the rehearsal process was intense!
I was just 16 at the time.
I was lucky to work with some incredibly experienced older-than-me actors from VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) and NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) where many incredible Australian creative exports are from, such as Russell Crowe (who I ended up working with later in my career on ‘The Water Diviner’), Cate Blanchett and Mel Gibson.
They really nurtured my talent and supported my first job.
This first gig led to an on-going role with a company called Cartoon Creations who I toured with for a number of years afterward as a character actor for live shows.
It was a really strong start to my career. After high school, I auditioned for the William Bates Academy of Performing Arts in Melbourne and was accepted.
While I was studying I was cast in a number of network television roles, so didn’t spend much time studying.
I was keen to learn in an institutionalized format at school, but I was lucky enough to be learning on the job.
I worked on multiple shows for Channel 31 in Melbourne as an actor and vox-pop interviewer which really helped me along in getting used to being in front of the camera, and loved being in student films for all the major film schools.
I was the lead as a “working girl” in the film ‘Red Light’ for a (now) fantastic director while he was studying at Swinburne University, as well as another short film titled ‘Idle Blade’.
Left of Centre’ was the first feature that I was in, produced by Pixelbob Productions, and I played the lead Adrielle.
That was ace as I worked with some of my friends who were coming up in the entertainment industry at the same time as me and it came out on VHS.
That was the first time I’d seen my face on the cover of something and I really thought I’d made it!
Peter Flaherty cast me in ‘Cash Savvy’ early on which was a highly revered short film that has made it into many, many Australian and international festivals over the years, and I continued to work with Peter up until I left Australia in theater, film and television.
I was in the theater production of ‘The Knitting Circle’ for Melbourne Short and Sweet Festival which was performed to sold-out audiences at Melbourne’s Arts Centre, the largest and most famous of Melbourne’s art performance venues.
‘August, Osage County’ was performed the same month there by Steppenwolf Theater Company, Chicago/New York’s famous theater company, and yet we sold out for our show.
It was very impressive and inspiring to me as an actor to be working in the same environment as such entertainment royalty!
I also had a starring role in ‘Neighbours,’ Australia’s long running famous-for-it’s-exports network TV show which has produced other well-known actors such as Margot Robbie and Guy Pierce.
I had an incredible start to my career and have been working ever since.
Your work is incredible! What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve really loved most of the productions I have worked in, and my work has been joyously varied.
When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I was stoked to land a bunch of television and film roles off the bat, including a cool visual film with SCIA in which I starred, a super secret World Pandemic Film for the World Bank called ‘STRAIN’ which was shown to audiences of world leaders at giant summits all over the globe in which I was the lead.
I played a news reporter from the Asia-Pacific who was reporting on an outbreak (very intense considering how 2020 has been!), and another lead role as Melissa Barthelemy on the ‘People Magazine Investigates: The Long Island Serial Killer’ for Investigation Discovery.
I worked with these guys again on ‘Murder in the Heartland’ recently and one of the producers at Finch Productions who I worked with on these shows reached out to me this week to work on another new project.
My own series’ ‘Roommates’ and ‘Eilidh’ were probably my favorite to work on if I’m being honest, because it gave me the opportunity to speak from the heart as an actor and storyteller.
I play the lead in both of these series and people from all over the planet have loved it and written highly-appraising features for some huge publications on them.
It has made me really proud that my hard work and love of my craft has brought me so far.
Back in Australia, I had a starring role in ‘Blue Heelers’, an iconic drama series. I was cast as a lead, Annie, in ‘Surry’, a cool series for ABC2 about a sharehouse and the shenanigans that went on within.
I’ve worked on multiple commercials for major airline and motor brands and also worked with the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) as a voice over artist and actor with Triple J, Australia’s favorite indie music station, along with promotional voice work for other stations and companies. All of my roles have truly been favorites.
What would you say to aspiring actors who look up to your work?
Just do it!
Whatever you want to do, just follow any leads and make it happen.
Build relationships with people you gel creatively with and jump in there.
I think the main thing I would advise is to feel the fear and do it anyway (to quote the famous book).
Starting out can seem so overwhelming to many, and I understand that it is hard to know where to start.
The entertainment business is unique in the sense that there is no “right way” to start.
You just have to jump in there. Offer your skills up to some pals who are working on their first film, or create your own material.
There is so much to be said for getting comfortable in a theater or on-camera setting.
It really builds confidence and allows you to understand how things work so you can focus on just acting.
Once you have developed your on-set skills, it is easier to reach for representation or to build relationships with those at a higher level of experience and professional reverence than yourself.
Head to film festivals and check out other people’s work.
Film festivals are a wonderful place to meet fellow creatives, as are film academies and organizations.
I am a professional member of BAFTA Los Angeles, which only has around 8k members worldwide, of which Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge is the president.
I’m not suggesting that you try and join an exclusive film institution right away, but these organizations offer some amazing workshops and incentives to actors starting out that are definitely worth applying for.
And learning never ends; Drama school is cool, and acting coaching and classes are a good way to understand working with a director and how to hit points in scripts as a character.
Truthfully though, experience has been my teacher and I wouldn’t be where I am at today if I’d not just shown up and jumped in, in spite of fear or nerves.
Being an actor is like psychology — you’ll be amazed at what you are capable of achieving if you spend the time moving through and accepting fear and discomfort, and simply showing up!
Do you have anything new or upcoming we can expect to see from you?
I just won Best Web / TV Series at the 1st Monthly Film Festival for my YouTube series ‘Roommates’, and have been officially selected for the Flicks Film Festival and the URUVATTI International Film Festival, so that is a total treat!
I am releasing new episodes of ‘Eilidh’ this week for a second season. I’ve had such an amazing response to the series and received some incredible reviews in fantastic publications.
I have been working on the script for a while and am in the final stages of editing.
She is a wonderful Scottish character (Eilidh, pronounced “Ay-lee” is a Scottish-Gaelic name).
The final series will be submitted into some top-notch festivals as I plan to pitch the show, with the help of an amazing showrunner (who is currently back in Australia for the short-term due to Covid-19) to some important production houses.
I am excited to work with Karol Escobar and Darren Coyle on their new ‘People Magazine Investigates’ show again in the coming weeks.
They’re an impressive production team and I always love working with them.
I have so many amazing acting gigs in the works to look forward to, so I’m going to need to invest in some strong af coffee!