Every successful performer and artist has an inspirational story and Marissa Wynne is one of those people. Here is what she had to share about her rise to the top of the acting game.
How and when did you first get into performing?
I started performing at the age of 5. I would create sketches with friends at school, sometimes based on jokes I’d ripped off ‘Garfield’, occasionally based on ideas we’d actually thought of, and call them ‘acts’. For some reason our teacher would often let us do our ‘acts’ after recess. I can’t remember how they were received by anyone else but I always thought they were pretty hilarious. After that came school plays, and Gold Coast community theatre. Through that, I got my first acting agent at 16 and started being sent out on real auditions that I was completely unprepared for. My first professional role was as a snarky teen goth on the TV series ‘Mortified’ which I’m 90% sure I booked by being the only actress on the Gold Coast with black hair. At 18, I auditioned for QUT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting program and was accepted after stopping halfway through my callback monologue and apologizing for my terrible acting. Thankfully, I’m a little more confident these days!
Who are/were some of your biggest inspirations?
It’s a pretty popular opinion, but Jennifer Lawrence-she’s just so free and spontaneous in her work. Margot Robbie, because in the Wolf of Wall St, she was funny and sexy and maternal and strong, and too often women are sent the message that we can only be one of those things. Russell Brand since I saw his Forgetting Sarah Marshall audition tape which is like a master class in improvisation. Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle in The Mask made me want to be a movie star as a kid and I’ve loved her in so many things since then. And Jim Carrey-I could quote every word of Liar Liar when I was ten. I probably still can.
What kind have training have you done?
My training at QUT was centred on the Eric Morris technique, which I still use today. I was actually terrified of improvisation at drama school. It wasn’t until a couple of years out that I realised most of the performers I admire actually started in improv. I began taking classes with Lyn Pierse in Sydney, and the next year went to LA for the first time to take classes at Second City and iO West. I think it’s vital training for all actors, not just those with comedic aspirations. You learn to really listen, and make quick, spontaneous choices and just commit to them completely. And it’s really helpful with those commercial auditions where you’re often asked to make huge imaginative leaps and do crazy stuff. ‘Fiery Hawk auditions’, I call them. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Youtube ‘Fiery Hawk audition’ now. Do yourself a favor!
What has been your favorite role to play so far?
I recently had a co-starring role as ‘Erica’ in the Australian episode of Modern Family, which was surreal. I admire so many actors who’ve appeared on the series, so I felt really lucky to be part of something so big, even in a small way. At the moment I’m working on a script I plan to produce in LA: could be a webseries, short or even feature script at this stage. Like improv, it’s another way to develop the kind of characters you’re really excited to play. And it’s so satisfying to be able to give work to yourself even when others aren’t necessarily giving it to you. It helps you to still feel like an actor even in the quiet times.
What projects do you have coming up?
I probably quote The Simpsons every day without even realizing it. There’s a relevant one for every situation! It’s funny and relatible when you’re a kid and even more so, decades later. I would love to be part of a show like that. Not necessarily animated, but something that iconic and beloved. We all have that movie or that series or even that character we relate to that kind of ‘gets us through’ and makes us feel a little better, and it would be amazing to be that for someone. It goes hand in hand with why I always loved making people laugh. I honestly think that’s one of the most important things you can do for a person, to give them that release.
Who would be your ideal co-star?
My ideal co-star is someone I can riff off. I love it when people go balls out, are spontaneous in scenes, make the effort to really connect with you, and have a sense of play about their work. Those scenes you come out of and realize you didn’t have a self-conscious moment, that you didn’t internally beat yourself up or think about how ‘good’ you were acting – those are the reasons I think a lot of us act. Those scenes are exhilarating. I’m always chasing that. I want to work with people who are too.
What are your plans for the future?
My only immediate plan is to base myself in LA and work at becoming as good at what I do as possible! And enjoy the process. There are things that have happened in my life that are really beyond anything I could have imagined for myself a few years ago. I’m actually looking forward to being surprised!
What is your advice to aspiring performers?
Everyone says ‘never give up’ so often it’s become a cliche but really, never give up. When I finished drama school and moved to Sydney from Queensland, I couldn’t find an agent. I sent my stuff to around twenty of them and couldn’t secure a single interview. I lived in a rat-infested apartment above a kebab shop and worked some pretty heinous jobs to make rent. I had no family in Sydney and almost no friends. In my darkest moments, there was no way I could imagine that a few short years later I’d be taking classes at my dream school in LA, booking high profile series roles and appearing in regular commercials. I had no way of conceiving how or when things would improve, I just knew I had to persevere because I had no other options. You have to have that. Because sometimes it’s like the whole world is telling you it’s not gonna happen. Your desire has to be bigger and more powerful than the part of you that gets discouraged by that. That said, be open to constructive criticism (you’ll usually be able to tell the difference) and be honest with yourself and acknowledge the ways you can improve.