Just two years after graduating, Anna McGahan is in the enviable position of having so much work that she was recently scheduled against herself on two Sunday night prime-time TV shows - Channel 10's House Husbands and the ABC telemovie The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.
Had she been so inclined, the 2012 Heath Ledger Scholarship winner would not have been able to sit on the couch and channel hop because she was too busy performing in the world-premiere season of David Williamson's latest play, Managing Carmen.
"I have been so lucky," McGahan says of her short career so far. "I am sure I will be out of work at some point and I am ready for it. It is one of those things and I can't really believe it. It is pretty insane."
In Managing Carmen, the 24-year-old McGahan plays the trophy girlfriend of a star AFL footballer whose penchant for cross-dressing threatens to tear down the commercial edifice of his product endorsements - much to the chagrin of his money-grasping manager.
After a season in Brisbane, the Queensland Theatre Company and Black Swan State Theatre Company co-production has its Perth premiere tonight after two nights of previews at the Heath Ledger Theatre.
The play is just McGahan's second professional stage role after two years on screen in shows including Spirited, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and her Logie-nominated turn as the ambitious young prostitute Nellie Cameron in Underbelly: Razor.
After winning the $10,000 Heath Ledger Scholarship earlier this year, which comes with the chance to launch herself in Los Angeles, the Queenslander is delighted to perform in the city where the late Oscar-winner began his own career. "It is a lovely and serendipitous thing to be able to come to Perth and perform on the stage named after him," she says.
She hopes to head to Los Angeles in mid-2013 after filming the second season of House Husbands, where she plays Lucy, the daughter of serial dad Lewis (Gary Sweet) and the girlfriend of reformed bad-boy Justin (Firass Dirani).
The Ledger bursary, awarded by Australians in Film, will allow McGahan to live in LA for three months, get an agent, take some acting classes and establish a network. "I want to begin the process of accustoming myself to an entirely new world," she says. "It is an incredible opportunity. I am really determined to make the most of it."
After high school in Brisbane, where writing, drama and science were her passions, McGahan started a psychology degree at university but turned towards acting and graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in that field in 2010.
She also has serious runs on the board as a writer, having penned three plays, including a dystopian tale of surveillance and thwarted love called He's Seeing Other People Now. It was performed in Brisbane earlier this year after winning the Queensland Theatre Company Young Playwright's Award. She also was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Drama Award in 2011.
McGahan harbours ambitions to write more for the stage and possibly the screen. One play under way taps back into her fascination with science.
"I love space," she says. "I am currently writing about space and medicine and trying to combine those two fields. I love the contrast between the empirical evidence of maths and physics and the power of emotions."
She finds it liberating to act, to be able to indulge in dangerous situations that would have dire consequences in real life
"I really noticed it in Underbelly because I was playing a character who took so many risks," she says. "It is like throwing yourself off a train or jumping off a building and knowing you are not going to die. It is so exhilarating and surreal."
After a role in La Boite Theatre's Julius Caesar, Managing Carmen continues McGahan's steep theatrical learning curve.
It sees her working with QTC director Wesley Enoch, whom she has long admired, and her Underbelly: Razor co-star John Batchelor (Red Dog, The Great Mint Swindle), who plays the Machiavellian sports manager trying to hush up his client's inclination to dress in drag.
At this early stage of her career, McGahan has been eager to soak up as much as she can from Batchelor and the other actors she has worked with, including Perth actor Greg McNeill (another Managing Carmen cast member whom she describes as "one of the funniest people I have ever met"), Spirited's Claudia Karvan and House Husbands' Sweet.
"Day by day, I am just trying to do my best so that I somehow maintain it and appreciate it at the same time," she says.
"It is going to end, I know it is going to end but I am going to try to love every second of it that I can and try to learn from all these people."
Managing Carmen is at the Heath Ledger Theatre until December 2.