Five minutes with actress Grace Bentley

It’s a big world out there and we don’t always realise it in small towns. What advice would you give to people here about getting into acting?

Definitely get involved in community or youth theatre programmes if possible. It’s good to work out whether you really want to do acting as a job or if it is just a hobby. Because the big world is rigorous and takes a lot of persistence.

Did you always want to act?

I wanted to be a ballerina. It wasn’t till I was a teenager that I started to do drama classes. The energy from the audience in my first ever show was what got me. I was eight and played a cop in the YMCA song.

How does it work making a creative living in NZ? Does it work?

It is very hard. Most of us have to have another job after or whilst acting.

What do you make of the local arts scene here? Our strengths? Our challenges?

People are trying but it is ultimately very white and as a black creative this is something I’ve noticed. There should definitely be more theatre brought to your area and half of that is on the creatives of New Zealand. We need to make efforts to bring our own work down here. I can’t overly speak to this though. Because I don’t live here 24/7.

What are the projects you’ve worked on here before?

I did panto costumes when I was living in Hawea Flat/Wanaka in 2017, and then the 2018 Tall Tales monologue season. Then they invited me back to do the third pantomime.

You were a perfect Sno Whyte. Oh yes you were. What else are you working on?

A 45-minute solo show, an extension on my 2018 Woman of Citrus monologue, about growing up mixed race in rural New Zealand. I am also going into a season of Emilia at the Pop Up Globe and producing a short film called Moss about New Zealand experiences with abortion.

What would you like to see more of in New Zealand theatre?

Ensemble work. And exciting work that pushes political and social norms and boundaries more!

Words Liz Breslin


© 2019