By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
By Claire Lawton
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Anna Merlan
I find actors a little bit too self-conscious. They come a bit too prepared. They’ve overthought it. Their reactions aren’t real. The trained actors, the experienced actors, would just give away the game. I’m just trying really to make it seem real. To me, it’s really funny that my character is in a real environment and you think it’s a real documentary.
Ja’mie might be the only openly homophobic and racist protagonist on American TV. Why did you decide to make her prejudices such an integral part of her character?
It’s just funny to me that she’s such a horrible person. That’s the whole joke with her. You can’t believe you’re watching this girl, that this is really happening. And, probably, she’s not that far from the truth.
She builds herself up as so powerful: “I’m the school captain and really hot. Everyone worships me.” And the series is about watching her downfall. She makes you want to really take her down. As things start to fall apart, it has the audience really cheering that on.
I read in an interview that you were sometimes scared by how attractive you found Ja’mie to be. Is that still the case?
I don’t know whether that was taken out of context. Yeah, she’s all right. It’s funny; she just claims to be so hot, and she tells you how hot she is all the time. She really puts herself out there. I did a photo shoot for Zoo – you guys have Maxim, but it’s more trashy than that. This is cheap men’s bikini models, and Ja’mie is on the cover of that. She’s in a wet school uniform, and she sort of passes. I think she looks very good.
I don’t disagree!
It’s all about your attitude. She just sells it.
How do you nail the teen-girl mannerisms?
I don’t really think too much about it. It’s quite instinctive. Maybe it’s being around other girls while I’m shooting. I definitely don’t study it or anything. I just make it up. Being in the costume and wig helps.
What inspired the change in Ja’mie’s hairdo?
No, it’s the same wig. It’s probably the lighting. I wanted her hair to appear fake. If I were starting the show now, I’d probably want her hair to be a little bit longer. When I first started Ja’mie, that was the style. The style now, in Australia at least, is much longer and the style straighter and with a center part. But I wanted her to have the same look so people weren’t confused.
Where had the wig been for the five years since Summer Heights High?
Just at my house. I used to have them all on head blocks, but that seemed creepy. So I just had them wrapped up in a box.
Were you afraid of returning to play Ja’mie and appearing not as attractive in the role five years later?
Um, no? I don’t know. I’ve never been a 16-year-old girl. I play mostly characters that are younger than me and of different races and different ages, and I’m always transforming into something very far removed from myself. It’s never been a concern; it’s all just part of the joke. I don’t really look like any of the characters in real life. I played an African-American. I didn’t really look like one. You just get into the illusion of it.
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