The West

Film star in the making off to woo Hollywod
Olivia DeJonge, off to Hollywood. Picture: Robert Duncan/The West Australian

The traditional career path for a Hollywood-bound WA actor is drama school here or on the east coast, stints on stage and or in a TV soap, a breakthrough Aussie feature, then, if they have the chops and charisma, an invitation to Tinsel Town.

In striking contrast is the stunning out-of-the-blocks performance of Presbyterian Ladies' College Year 9 student Olivia DeJonge, who this week heads to New York to shoot her first feature after making just one short film, the 12-minute drama Good Pretender.

DeJonge will co-star in The Sisterhood of the Night, a modern-day version of the Salem witch trials that touches the hot-button issues of gossip, social networking and cyber-bullying. Her US debut is a modestly scaled indie flick. But the fact the producers are willing to fly DeJonge to New York shows her talent and potential.

Although DeJonge is thrilled to get her first American movie, it was never part of the plan to leapfrog the local industry on to the Hollywood fast track.

"I was planning to finish school then go to NIDA or WAAPA. But all these amazing opportunities kept coming up, so I am just happy to go along for the ride," said the strikingly mature 14-year-old who has been signed by CAA, Hollywood's leading talent agency.

DeJonge said acting was all she had ever wanted to do, so much so that her parents were worried their daughter would be heading for a career racked by broken dreams and heartache. "I wish it was netball," said mum Robyn, who will be the on-set chaperone for her daughter during the six-week shoot.

"We did everything we could to discourage Olivia from acting but nothing worked."

On a trip to the US last year, the movie-mad youngster bumped into Hugh Jackman after his Broadway show. The WAAPA-trained superstar asked DeJonge what she was doing in New York and she replied: "I'm here auditioning for Sofia Coppola's new movie."

Jackman, according to Robyn, was gobsmacked. Perhaps one day the star of the upcoming adaptation of Les Miserables will remember the day he met Olivia DeJonge.

The West Australian

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