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The Age

Growing up on camera

Author: Erik Jensen
Date: 03/04/2008
Words: 799
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 17
These young stars have hopes for big things, says Erik Jensen.

REBECCA BREEDS fixes a stare. Her face is childlike, younger than the teen she plays on Blue Water High, but she talks like someone 10 years older. Her eyes have the intensity of ambition, of a career being mapped behind the retina.

"You do have to be very strategic," she says between scenes of the ABC soap, now in its third season. "And there's a lot of luck. And a lot of it is just talent, working your arse off. And then a lot of it is being very smart and very wise as well.

"The girls in this show are really good. Even though we're all very similar - we're the same age, we go for a lot of the same parts - we're so supportive of each other. None of us get the claws out (and) we don't bitch or fight."

Breeds is 20 but was auditioning for the part of a 15-year-old on Home and Away when Blue Water High wrapped last month. She has put a lot of thought into her look - how her stature and skin make her seem like a schoolgirl - and says appearing younger will add to her longevity.

"Everyone tells me when I'm 40 I'm going to look 30," she says, "so even into the future hopefully that's going to give me a longer shelf-life."

The "look" is the subject of many conversations on the show's Newport set and allows actors to pretend they are not in competition. At the starting point in their careers, it also helps them to envisage who they may be as actors.

"Right now I'm in that age where I'm kind of just creeping up on the guys like Sam Worthington (Love My Way)," says Kain O'Keeffe, who plays Guy. "Hopefully, off the back of this, I'll get a bit of work and see what happens. Lachie (Buchanan, who plays Charley) is the same but Lachie and I look different so it's not like, in that sense, we could be competing."

Blue Water High, which is sold to 20 regions including Poland and Macedonia, follows a year in the Solar Blue Surf Academy. Each season turns around a new cast, with the young actors entering an industry in which they will spend the next decade stepping over each other for parts.

Adam Saunders, who played Heath in series one, went on to Home and Away. Gabrielle Scollay, from series two, followed. James Sorensen has since secured a lead in Neighbours. And Tahyna Tozzi has been linked to Ian Thorpe and Koby Abberton since her role in the first season.

"In Australia, in particular, you always worry about what you're going to be doing next," says Buchanan, whose other roles include a wedding guest in the indie film All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane, and who considers vulcanology as a fallback plan.

"It's just so up and down that it's really hard to rely on it. I guess there is always that worry: even if it's going really well on this show, will there be work around?"

The show's actors are mostly under 25, an age when many of their friends are at university or beginning more stable career paths. Some come from families where parents would rather they pursue a trade, though none are fazed by the instability of the industry. Like Breeds, most have the future laid out in their heads.

"You are your own business. The only thing is I don't have a sign over my head, I just have my face," she says.

"I am my own business. I am my own product. I am my own spokesperson, apart from my agent, obviously. You've always got to be on your game and you've always got to make sure you're networking. You're putting yourself out there."

Though this is the first time many of these actors have filled lead roles, most have been in the industry long enough to realise how small it is.

Many have benefited from the rule that requires shows to take the same actors on a two-year cycle to fill minor roles.

In 2002, O'Keeffe was in All Saints playing Todd Sorenson but was back two years later playing Jamie Stoner. In 2004, he was on Blue Water High as a bully for two episodes and now he is a lead in the series.

"That does show that the industry's quite small. It's quite funny because, I mean, the people who've watched it from the start and are adamant fans, they'll know and see the same characters over and over again," he says.

"It doesn't really faze me or because we've all got our own individual look and we've all got our sort of thing going on."

Series three of Blue Water High begins tonight at 5.30pm on ABC1.

 
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