DOCTOR, Doctor’s Hayley McElhinney remembers her formative years growing up in Leeman with older sister and fellow actor Mandy (Love Child) with great fondness.
“I remember a childhood of very Tim Winton-like running on sand dunes and eating copious amounts of crayfish,” McElhinney said.
“We lived in our imagination which I think is one of our biggest influences in the choice of our career. We weren’t exposed to any theatre there, but it was very much a choose your own adventure and we created our own world.”
The family moved to Perth when Hayley was 10 years old and in 1999 she graduated from the acting course at WAAPA before moving to Los Angeles.
“It gave me an incredible amount of confidence because it’s three years of mostly practical experience,” she said.
“So you’re focusing on the craft and I got to work with some amazing people.”
McElhinney was still living in LA when she returned to Australia to film The Babadook, released in 2014, and realised she wanted to be back home closer to her family.
She now “gets the best of both worlds” while being based in Perth and filming on the east coast about five months of the year.
It also means she was in town when WAAPA approached her to host this year’s WA Screen Academy Gala: Uncharted Territory at Luna Leederville on September 27, featuring six short dramas made by ECU’s emerging filmmakers with third year acting students on screen.
“When I was asked to host this gala, I agreed because I wanted to publicly say how much I got out of going to that school, how much I loved it and how proud I am of that time of my life,” she said.
“I’m sure there would be plenty of people much better than I am but I’m thrilled they asked me.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the films because I’m always curious to see new film and what people are doing.”
McElhinney, who will star in next year’s Black Swan State Theatre Company season of Medea, said although her education was mostly theatre-focused, more recent WAAPA graduates were known to be industry ready with their “incredible amount of training in film and television”.
The WA Screen Academy Gala: Uncharted Territory will screen on Channel 9 in October.