Ten questions for Nelle

October 1, 2016

The feeling of stepping onto the set for the first time, the lights on your eyelashes, hearing the music or sound fill the theatre ...

Brisbane actor and shake & stir Artistic Director Nelle Lee is about to take to the stage in Tequila Mockingbird. We put the spotlight on her!

  1. Have you always been ‘dramatic’ from a young age?

I have always loved performing. I think artistic talent comes from an instinctual place, but it also needs to be nurtured and supported. It is vital that professional artists have dialogue with young aspiring actors, musicians, theatre creators, to show that there are definitely ways to make a successful living in the arts, if you are willing to put in the hard work.

  1. How would you describe your style?

 I love to work hard with passionate people who motivate me. I hear the phrase “You work too hard” and “when are you going to take a break?” quite a bit. I feel so fortunate to be able to go to work every day doing what I love, with people I love. Yes, I work long hours, but 90 per cent of the time it doesn’t feel like work.

  1. Do you have a mentor or an actor that you learnt from along the way?

It’s hard to single out one person. When I was in high school, I went to see the play A Beautiful Life by Matrix Theatre. I think it was the first piece of live theatre that I saw that gave me goosebumps. I attended a Q&A with Michael Futcher the writer and director of the piece and I was so inspired by his humanity and passion for the work I thought to myself, that is my dream job. Fast forward a decade (or two?) and I am just about to enter re-rehearsals for our fifth collaboration with Michael Futcher as a director/dramaturg. I think that is one of the most incredible things about our industry, you can be lucky enough to work with those people who inspired you and gave you the courage to follow those creative dreams.

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  1. What has been one of the greatest thrills for you as a performer?

 The feeling of stepping onto the set for the first time, the lights on your eyelashes, hearing the music or sound fill the theatre – everyone is focused and working to achieve the same vision. It’s when all the pieces come together.

  1. Is theatre, TV or film your first love?

 I love any kind of acting, but there is definitely something about the theatre that I find more fulfilling – there’s that malleable connection with the live audience.

  1. Tequila Mockingbird is a production with many dark themes. Do you think the issues in Tequila Mockingbird are still relevant today in Australia?

 Yes, 100 per cent. Australians have a real acceptance of casual racism, which is considered ‘harmless.’ True – a funny remark or joke here and there about someone’s skin colour, eye shape, cultural habits is not usually said with a malicious intent, right? But sometimes it is, and how do you draw the line between the two? How do you know who is ‘joking’ and who actually is ‘racist’?

  1. Did you read/see To Kill a Mockingbird as a student? Do you think, given Tequila Mockingbird is performed for students, that it makes the story more relevant for them in our landscape?

 Tequila Mockingbird is really a story of its own. In the first season; it was so fascinating to witness how different audiences responded to some of the intentionally-awkward moments within the play. During our school matinees you would hear huge roars of laughter and then whispers amongst them when they realised what it was they were laughing at. Adult audience members would react quite differently, some with laughter, others with audible shock at not only the situation presented in front of them, but also the response from other audience members.

  1. Just out of curiousity… are those tattoos in the promo shot for real or do you get them put on for each performance?

Ha, the tattoos are the result of hours in the make-up chair (Alex Ouston is our Make-up Artist if anyone is wanting ‘try before you buy’ tattoos). Who knows, maybe it’s time I commit to my art? Mum, totally joking if you’re reading this 😉

  1. What is your dream role?

Ohhh, toughest question to ask an actor! There are plenty of Shakespeare characters I would love to play – Lady Macbeth, Rosalind from AYLI.  I also would love to play with more comedy roles.

  1. You have formal qualifications in acting. From what you now know, can you give one piece of advice to budding actors of any age starting out?

Get involved as soon as you can. Go to plays, workshops, watch the work of those you admire. Be easy to work with and enthusiastic to work hard. It is a tough industry, but equally rewarding. It is rife with Tall Poppy syndrome so sometimes you just have to keep your head up and keep doing what you love.


About Tequila Mockingbird: After a woman is attacked in a remote Australian town, the racist underbelly rears its head as the community targets a young Indian Doctor who has recently relocated to the area. Only one local man possesses the strength to uncover the truth and defend the accused in the ultimate fight for what’s right but first, he must take care of other matters, a little closer to home. Directed by Michael Futcher, and nominated for six 2014 Matilda Awards, winning Best Mainstage Production.

Date:  5 to 15 October, 2016
At: Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
Bookhere for the 90 minute performance (no interval)
Cost: $60 adult. Concession available.

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Helen Goltz
After studying English Literature and Communications at universities in Queensland, Helen Goltz has worked as a journalist, producer and marketer in print, TV, radio and public relations. She was born in Toowoomba and has made her home in Brisbane. Helen is the author of eight books and is published by Clan Destine Press and Atlas Productions. She is the original founder of She Brisbane.