Up-and-coming Australian actor Aimee Duroux arrives on Close-up Culture to talk about her journey in the industry so far and some of the exciting projects she has lined up for the future.
Q: I believe Meryl Streep’s performance in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ inspired you to pursue acting as a career. Can you tell us more about this moment and what your next steps were?
A: I was in Grade 7 when The Devil Wears Prada came out and hadn’t had much acting experience before then. I was in a school play and had just started after school lessons, but was just doing it for a bit of fun.
When I watched this movie, I remember being blown away by Meryl Streep’s performance and thinking: ‘I want to do that.’ It was also cool to see Simon Baker in the film. I knew he was an Australian actor and it made me feel like I’d be able to work on a production of a similar calibre, even though I didn’t live in Hollywood.
Q: Is Meryl still your biggest inspiration or has someone/something eclipsed her?
A: Oh, she is definitely still a driving force. But when I was younger, it was purely based on her acting work. Now in addition to her performances, I’m inspired by her work ethic, the longevity of her career and her poise. The personality and ability she has to have created a family while maintaining one of the most formidable Hollywood careers.
I’m also now inspired by actors of a similar age to me who are working in the biz. I really respect the passion, workload and sacrifices made for having a career as an actor. For young people like Katherine Langford, Hailee Steinfeld, Troian Bellisario and Mai Whitman to have flourishing careers by the age of 30 is impressive.
Q: You’ve now reached a point where you have studied your craft and worked on big blockbuster projects. What do you feel have been some of the biggest challenges and key moments in your journey so far?
A: A key moment came during my study in New York. I attended the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and learnt the most out of any program I’ve ever enrolled in. It cemented for me that this is the industry I want to work in and that I have the ability to do so.
I’ve been lucky enough to have some really incredible experiences with my acting. I represented Australia at the World Championships for Performing Arts (which is where I won my scholarship for NYCDA). I’ve graduated from University here in Australia with a degree focusing on Drama. I’ve booked commercials, short films, web-series, feature films and television shows.
I’ve started a performance company in my hometown that creates opportunities for other emerging actors and I’ve just returned from my eighth trip to the United States.
I’ve had a lot of successes that I’m very thankful for, but with them obviously comes challenges. The amount of rejection I’ve received is outlandish – from training programs, projects, courses – you name it. It’s also difficult in Australia to financially live off what you earn as a creative, so a constant battle is working other jobs to support my passion but making sure I still have time to improve and hone my skills.
Q: That must be a difficult path to go down. How do you stay motivated and focused?
A: I’ve had lots of rejection, but thankfully I have reached a point where I can walk out of an audition room and just move on. For a while, I would get stuck in the trap of overanalysing my work and thinking about all the things I could’ve done better. But I eventually realised that that wasn’t going to change anything or help me move forward.
If I do the work, show up, audition and leave – I’ve done my job. So much of what’s going to happen is out of my control and I’m okay with that. It may come down to how tall I am or maybe I’m too pale or maybe the other lead girl also has brown hair and they don’t want to pay to dye someone’s colour. They may rewrite the script and suddenly my character is cut from the scene (that’s happened before!).
There are so many other components to booking the job. If it was purely based upon acting, rejection would be hard to swallow because the result would be entirely based upon your performance, skills and ability. But it’s not. And it’s important to remind yourself of that.
I do the work, audition, have fun and leave. If I get a call-back or book the role, that’s a bonus.
Q: The blockbuster project I was referring to in the last question was ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. What did you learn from being part of such a huge project?
A: Thor was great. It was such a long day, but an excellent exercise in patience. I was in costume, hair and make-up for about three hours before I got onto set and then an hour afterwards. There was a massive crew and lots of extras the day I was there.
Everyone worked so hard and was clearly working towards making the best project they could. I found all the crew so kind and even when we were entering the 13th hour of filming, doing their best to maintain morale.
Q: You have a number of exciting short film projects coming up. Trevor Smith’s ‘Emporium’ looks like a Lynchian nightmare! Was that a stressful role to take on?
A: Stressful? Not at all. Any opportunity to act is an absolute gift. It was challenging; the costume was something I definitely would not wear in the ‘real world’ and the character’s circumstances are something I’ve never found myself in and hope to never experience! But again, I was surrounded by a professional, supportive crew and was working with a cast who despite may be playing dark characters, couldn’t be more opposite in reality.
Q: I believe ‘Tales From The Beyond’ is another unsettling tale. Can you tell us more about the role?
A: I’m so excited about Tales! It’s about to hit the festival circuit and I’ve never played a role like it before. I play a psychic medium named Suzy, who is the star of a 1970s reality show that documents her experiences with the supernatural. I’d describe the film as a horror/thriller.
Jake Löfven, the director, was really great to work with. He took the time to make sure I understood his vision for the character and allowed me to create my own parts of her too. I actually attended the premiere of the film a couple of weeks ago and I can’t wait for people to see it too.
Q: As you brought up earlier, you co-own a theatre company in Brisbane and work as acting teacher. What do you enjoy about these roles and how do you feel they improve you as a person and as an actor?
A: Operating a theatre company is challenging and rewarding. You do everything yourself, I’ve had to learn how to produce works without any experience but have come to love the process. It also creates the opportunity to develop not only my own work, but the works of other Brisbane creatives.
Being an acting teacher has taught me so much about education, patience, communication and kids! While there are days that are absolutely challenging and exhausting (behaviour management is so tricky!), there is nothing that compares to the feeling of seeing a student who is so passionate about what they do learning a new skill or doing a performance when 6 months ago, they may have been terrified of public speaking.
Owning a theatre company and being a teacher have improved my organisation skills, enhanced my patience and encouraged me to pursue more unique opportunities as an actor. There are an ever-growing amount of ways to approach the way you work.
Q: You recently appeared on Aussie children’s show ‘Toasted TV’ and reality show ‘Game of Games’. How were these two experiences?
A: So bizarre but great. The reality show was surreal. It was literally a game show where you just play massive, ridiculous games for money. I was a contestant with my sister and it’s honestly just one of those memories I’ll treasure forever and can’t wait to tell future generations about.
The kids show was a lot of fun too. I was actually hired to play a crazy Game of Games contestant (little did they know, I actually was) and to do some silly activities with them to try and prank their producer into thinking they’d got a terrible guest on as part of their show. She was really professional though, so the prank didn’t quite work. I still had a ton of fun though!
Q: What do you hope the future holds for you?
A: I hope the future holds work! I want to act in incredible productions. I want to inspire people to chase their dreams because failure is only an option if you give up! I also want to write and produce more, but my first love is acting.
Q: If could slot into an Netflix or TV show, what would it be and why?
A: Oh, great question! I need to give you a few answers.
Brooklyn 99 is the funniest show I’ve ever watched. I can see a part of myself in ever characters. 13 Reasons Why is controversial but it sparks conversation and I think that’s important. I want my work to make people think.
I’d also love to play more characters that are outside of the 21st century like in Picnic At Hanging Rock. I’m really fascinated by eras other than our own.
Q: Lastly, do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
A: I’m about to start rehearsals for a play in Brisbane (but it’s not announced yet, so I can’t give the specific details!). I really want to film a web-series or short film next year, I’ve just started writing a script. I’m excited to see how Tales From The Beyond travels on the festival circuit!
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Title photo by Jessie Kate