Imagine being a part-time student and part-time national TV star.
That’s the life young Australian actor Inez Curro — who has her first big role* starring in the new TV series Picnic At Hanging Rock — has made for herself.
One minute she is on set with some of Australia’s biggest acting names and international stars, and the next she is doing maths equations and persuasive texts for homework.
She is so young she has to be chaperoned* on set by her mother.
And, because of her growing acting commitments*, 14-year-old Inez is also home schooled by her mum, but she admits her real love is acting.
She will play Sara Waybourne in Picnic at Hanging Rock and is excited by all the buzz about the program, which airs* this weekend.
“I’m super excited but also super nervous because all my friends are planning how they are going to watch it,” Inez said.
“My friends keep texting me and telling me about all the ads (for the series) they’ve seen.”
It is not the first time Inez has acted — she remembers being overcome* with nerves before her first play.
She lay on the floor, feeling like she couldn’t perform.
“I was lying on the floor and I was dying,” said Inez, who is from Sydney.
But a lot has changed since then, and the 14-year-old actor is starting to master* her craft*.
“I think I still get nervous, especially on stage (because) I want to present the best thing. It can go really well or not and you’ve got to roll with it,” she said.
“The best thing for me is just breathing and clearing your mind and don’t think about the scary thing and focus on your heart rate and push it down and sit still and quietly and let the fear wash over you.”
Sitting quietly is a skill Inez draws on to play her character Sara in Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Sara is a quiet and watchful orphan in this mystery set in 1900 about a group of students and a teacher who go missing at a Valentine’s Day picnic at Hanging Rock. It is based on Joan Lindsay’s novel by the same name.
There is also a film called Picnic at Hanging Rock, made in 1975.
Many people who read the book or watched the movie believed the story was true and the author never confirmed nor denied* its truth, which added to the sense of mystery.
Inez prepared to play Sara by thinking about what it would be like to be an orphan more than 100 years ago.
“I got a notepad out and wrote the story I thought I could naturally, realistically* play about Sara,” said Inez.
“What it boils down to is that orphans were kind of frowned upon. It boils down to difference.”
Inez feels that people are sometimes uncomfortable around someone who is different.
“They say, ‘Oh, look, you look like a good target,’ that’s what it comes down to. It was easy to get into that mindset.”
To play that role, Inez thought about how she had felt at different times in her childhood.
“I had to gather information from inside.
“When I was at school I got bullied pretty bad because I didn’t care (what other people thought of me).
“Still now, I come to things from different angles but I guess a lot of people feel unsafe about that, that difference in someone.”
Inez believes it’s natural that people can be wary of someone who has different opinions and behaves differently to the others.
“I get that. Growing up is scary.”
Inez said the advice she’s been given most often is actually really helpful in dealing with people who aren’t friendly.
“It sounds really simple but just ignore it and I hate being told to ignore it but it’s the only thing you can do.”
Even though she doesn’t go to school, she has good friends whom she sees often, mostly at acting-related activities.
“I do a lot of stuff with most of my good friends from a drama group. We’re all very theatery.
“Surround yourself with people who will embrace your strange qualities that some people don’t like as opposed to trying to go for people who don’t value you.”
* Picnic at Hanging Rock airs on Sunday at 8pm on Foxtel.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT HANGING ROCK
- Hanging Rock is a former volcano known by some of its traditional owners as Ngannelong.
- The collection of rocks is called a mamelon, created 6.25 years ago by magma pouring from a vent or hole in the earth and becoming solid.
- It is close to Mount Macedon and Woodend, about one hour’s drive north of Melbourne.
- There are two other mamelons close by. One is called Camel’s Hump, on Mount Macedon. The other is Crozier’s Rock.
- It is a popular place for climbing, walking and picnics and is most famous for the novel and movie, Picnic at Hanging Rock.
- commitments: promises
- chaperoned: looked after
- role: job
- airs: is on the TV
- overcome: defeated
- master: get it right
- craft: talent or skill
- denied: said wasn’t true
- realistically: believably
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
1. Embracing our differences
In the article Inez talks quite a bit about being different to other kids her age and that this has caused some people to treat her differently. It is a shame to hear this as we are all unique in our own ways and it is our differences that make us interesting!
It is okay to be different and we should treat everybody with kindness and respect.
Have a think about you and your life to identify what is unique about you. Perhaps you like different things to other kids? Maybe you look or dress differently to other people? Perhaps there is something you can do or can’t do that is unusual?
Draw a self-portrait that shows what is different and unique about you. Write a sentence to go with your portrait.
Extra resources: Art materials for creating a self-portrait
Extension: Can you think of somebody else (someone you know personally or somebody who is famous) that is considered a bit “different” that you love or admire?
Write a paragraph to describe them and explaining why their difference makes them great.
Time: Allow 30 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Visual Arts
2. Wise advice
Inez is only 14, but she has some very wise advice about dealing with difficult situations in life. Find and write down Inez’s advice on the three following topics:
- Overcoming nerves
- People who aren’t friendly
- Choosing your friends
Extension: Think up your own piece of wise advice about dealing with each of the above situations. Make sure your advice is sensible, peaceful and based on factors you can control.
Time: Allow 15 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Personal and Social Capability
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article.
Can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?
IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.