Lauren Orrell (Kristen)

“You don’t get the scripts you want, you get the scripts you need”, so goes the wisdom of Sydney based casting director, Faith Martin. 

I couldn’t find a way to describe my experience on the new seasons of, Starting From Now, not in the way I thought was expected of me. As I write and erase word after word, that phrase keeps coming to mind.

“You get the scripts that you need.”

From the beginning the show is not what I saw myself doing as an actor (I don’t actually know what it is I saw myself doing, but playing someone who had a life plan, wasn’t it) but it has been exactly what I needed.

Kristen’s journey, through co-incidence or divine intervention, I’m not sure which, has become a close reflection of my own journey. Her wounds were my wounds, we wanted the same things- to love and be loved, to be accepted and respected, but both of us far too frightened and hurt to be willingly vulnerable to give or receive any of these things.

In Season 3 Kiki, as I affectionately call her, and I let our demons off their leash. As her life spectacularly fell apart, mine also did, slowly and somewhat less spectacularly in the background.  As that season aired, and talks of new seasons started happened, I had serious doubts about my ability to put my grief aside long enough to get out of bed and work. 

First day on set I was wracked with nerves, but I needn’t have been. It was like coming home. There was a place for all the chaos and hurt in the work, and through the work, and more importantly the people I worked with, my heart and my head started to heal. It’s through the show and the cast I’ve learnt that it’s not only ok to have an open and loving heart, but that it’s absolutely vital. Without love, we simply die. SFN is not just another job for me, it’s a family, a family I’m very lucky to be a part of.

In the end, we always get what we need. 

By Lauren Orrell

Julia Billington (Rachel: Seasons 4 and 5)

It can often feel like the first day at a new school - joining a pre-established cast that have already worked together for not one, not two, but THREE other seasons before you came on board. Hierarchies are in place, people know where to sit at the lunch tables, and if you dare show up the popular kid in a subject you could very well begin a war for the rest of your life at school! 

So when I came along to the first season read of Starting From Now Season 4, I was prepared - nay, expecting to feel on the outer of a continual personal joke I hadn't been around for. I couldn't have been more wrong in my expectations. 

I know all actors say this about all projects they work on (especially in Oscar speeches), but the cast and crew of Starting From Now truly have been the most welcoming group of warm hearted, egoless, generous, and beautiful humans. After only an evening together I felt as if we'd known each other for weeks. After weeks, it felt like years. 

I have no idea how Rosie Lourde manages to wear the hats of both actress AND producer, while maintaining such an open, generous nature, seemingly with endless amounts of time to give to anyone who needs to chat. The striking and drop dead gorgeous Bianca Bradey could not have been more humble, down-to-earth, or unpretentious. The ever-smiling Sarah de Possesse is actually the nicest person to have ever walked the planet. Period. Mother Theresa would look like Miss Trunchbul to Sarah's Miss Honey! And Lauren Orrell - the darling lady who I had the utter privilege of working opposite in our scenes together - threw her arms and heart wide open and just said "yes, let's do this!" A fierce, brave and courageous actress with whom I had so much fun on set. 

And the writer/director, you ask? Was she a tyrant? A dictator? A precious bully? I think it speaks volumes about Julie Kalceff that the team of people she has established around her are of the quality they are. She is the ultimate leader, in that she gets down in the muck with us to make this all happen. Her willingness to let the script shift and be workshopped is a testiment to her egolessness, and respect for collaboration. In fact I remember one particular rehearsal we were discussing a scene and I was saying, "It just feels like since the last changes were made, this section now doesn't quite fit. Like it's still got a hangover from the previous draft..." The very next day a new scene had been drafted. This is Julie. I question whether the woman actually sleeps at all, sometimes. 

What could easily have been a "new school" boobytrap turned out to be my home away from home. And I cannot thank my new family enough for having me on board. Thanks guys!

by Julia Billington

Harvey K Zielinski (Chris: Seasons 4 and 5)

When I first joined the wonderful SFN cast via long distance correspondence from Melbourne I publicly identified as a queer cis-woman, and privately as gender neutral. But in the months before filming I was approved for testosterone therapy, and told Rosie and Julie this news when we first met in person. At this stage disclosure was foreign to me, but as difficult as I found the conversation it only heightened my excitement for the project. Sixteen weeks before filming I had my first injection.

I was concerned my transition would compromise Julie’s intentions for the character, but instead she was unbelievably accommodating, so much so that she deleted any reference to Chris’s gender in the script.  It’s an absolute delight for me to play a character whose gender identity is not only ambiguous but also irrelevant; Chris was simply allowed to exist without abidance or affiliation to gender. It was daunting to put myself in the public eye in the midst of such change but SFN ended up being the most validating and empowering thing I could’ve done in those early months of HRT. Plus, between Zoe.Misplaced and SFN I have some pretty nifty documentation of how I’ve changed so far.

As for the challenge of joining an already established cast and travelling interstate for filming, SFN made it a dream. I connected with the cast and crew instantly, and was in awe of all the talent and seamless cooperation on that set. I was also lucky enough to stay in the house SFN used as Chris and Steph’s house: a pretty luxurious holiday home. I was very well looked after, and doing what I love, with a like-minded and incredibly generous team dedicated to improving queer content in film. 

By Harvey K Zielinski

Clementine Mills (Bec: Seasons 2-4)

I first got involved with SFN as a one-liner extra role in Season 2. I went to drama school with Sarah and soon after we'd graduated she called me up one day and said "Clem I'm doing a web series and we need a chick to play a lesbian and kiss this really hot girl who's playing my sort-of-ex who is trying to make my character jealous and they asked me if I knew any cute lesbians so I thought of you, will you do it?" I said that my acting abilities could probably stretch to that, turned up at 8 am on a Thursday, made out with Bianca about 2 minutes after meeting her (B is so delightful and professional she has a way of making you feel totally comfortable), met Julie and everything went from there. I instantly fell in love with the cast and crew and Julie's script and work ethos so when she told me she was expanding my role I was over the moon. 

I've loved watching the success of the series grow over the seasons and seeing the characters and stories develop, especially with the recent help of Screen Australia. It's been so cool as a gay women to be part of a show that really validates and gives voice to gay women and the wider LGBTQI community; too often we see our identities exploited and commodified for the benefit of the mainstream and to the detriment of our community so to read Julie's scripts about a group of women who are human first and gay second was so exciting and refreshing!

By Clementine Mills