Flashback to March this year when Melbourne University student Abbey Vas joined StarNow while procrastinating between lectures. She applied to our (now legendary) Hollywood Immersive competition and before she knew it, she was selected out of 14,000 talented applicants as our winner.
Fresh off the plane from LA, we caught up with Abbey to hear about her time attending the immersive acting course in Hollywood.
How did you find out about Hollywood Immersive?
I think it was a combination of procrastination and curiosity which led me to stumble across an ad for the competition. After completing high school, and working incredibly hard to get into Melbourne University, I found I had all this free time and I wanted to fill it with acting projects to get some more experience.
I remembered hearing about a website called StarNow, googled it, and saw that applications for the Hollywood Immersive program had just opened. I thought to myself "why not apply?!?". Little did I know I would go on to win the competition!
What was it like to find out you'd been selected out of thousands of applicants?
Honestly, it's been six months since the announcement and I'm still processing the feeling. I can't quite articulate how incredible that moment was for me. I entered the competition just after I turned 18, just a Uni student from semi-rural Victoria with only high school drama training. I wasn't signed with a manager or an agency at the time, and I had no experience on film projects – only on school productions. I was literally starting from scratch! All I had was this intense passion and love for acting, and I think that's all you really need.
On the day of the Skype call with StarNow, I remember being a barrel of nerves and excitement not knowing what to expect. When Erin (StarNow's Markets Manager and one of the Hollywood Immersive judges) told me I had won the competition out of over 14,000 people from around the world, I swear – time stood still.
In that moment it felt like all the time I spent wishing and waiting for something to happen with this dream of mine had quickly dissolved and everything seemed possible. My life was suddenly beaming with potential, and it showed me that you can make your own luck in this world you just have to be courageous enough to put yourself out there.
Tell us a little bit about your Hollywood Immersive experience. What was a typical day like for you?
The overall experience was something so rare and wonderful, opportunities like these don't come around often so I savoured every moment I was there. The Acting Immersive program was something I needed at this point in my life. I'm only 18 so I haven't really experienced the world or been completely independent from my family yet, but through the course of the week I unearthed a confidence and assurance within myself I didn't know I was capable of. I grew up a lot.
How do I even begin to describe a day in the life during the program? A typical day started with waking up at the crack of dawn and going for a hike up in the Hollywood Hills, then coming back to the villa for breakfast. At 10am we would commence scene study or monologue work (depending on the schedule) at Beverly Hills Playhouse, and come back to the villa at around 6pm for dinner. At around 7pm we would welcome an industry professional into the house to provide us with insight into the entertainment industry and perform our monologues for them. It was an amazing opportunity to network and ask questions from people who are experts in the industry. Then we would hit the hay and get some much-needed sleep!
What was your favourite memory from the Hollywood Immersive program?
On the second day, we were at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and Michael and Jeremy were guiding us through our monologue work. Each of us would get up on stage in front of everyone and perform the monologues we had been working on at home before attending the program.
My monologue was from Edge of 17. In the scene, my character maintains a childlike naivety and ignorance to the world around her as she experiences isolation and disappointment for the first time. When it finally came to my turn, I remember my heart beating so fast not knowing what to expect. There was a moment in the monologue where I was meant to be on the verge of tears. Michael kept telling me to bring the emotion, and as the character lost in the moment, I cracked and managed to burst into tears! It was my breakthrough moment as an actress.
Michael helped me tap into this source of emotion I didn't know I had. Now I can create moments of true authenticity in my performances which is something I've always strived for.
How do you think the experience will impact your career?
It has opened up so many doors for me – doors which I never even knew existed! As soon as I won the competition I sent off my monologues and freshly updated acting CV to a handful of agencies. They all got back to me and were interested in signing me!
On a whim, I sent one off to a highly reputable Australian agency, Nathalie Hall Artist Management. Less than 24 hours later, I got a message from one of the managers who loved my monologues and wanted to call me to have a general chat. After we spoke on the phone she wanted to sign me straight away! I've been with the management for a few months now and have had a couple of auditions for the lead roles in US and Australian projects. Who knows what will happen in the future, but I am so happy and excited to see where it all leads me!
What kind of projects are you working on currently?
I'm in the process of auditioning for various projects. As soon as I got back from LA I auditioned for the lead in a new TV show that will shoot in Australia next year. In the meantime, I am looking to do a short course to keep evolving my acting training, in addition to studying Literature at Melbourne University.
I think it's extremely important to strike a balance between education and pursuing something like acting – you have to keep your mind busy with something while waiting for auditions to come through!
How would you like to see your career evolve in the next five years?
After attending the Hollywood Immersive Acting program, it really has clarified that acting is what I want to do with my life, now more than ever. My ultimate goal is to have regular work as an actress, whether that be in the US, the UK, or here in Australia. I would love to be cast in a TV series or feature film. I'm taking every opportunity I can to learn more about acting and the industry to better my own abilities. As for now, all I can do is just keep on auditioning for projects and fingers crossed something will come up in the near future! As long as I keep my feet on the ground, and surround myself with people who support and encourage me, the sky is the limit.
There's only one day left to enter our latest Hollywood Immersive competition – so if you haven't applied – what are you waiting for?
About the author
Kalista Campbell is StarNow's Digital Marketing Manager. She looks after a bunch of things, including StarNow's blog and works with our Ambassadors to bring you useful tips, tricks and advice. In the office she's known for her tidy desk, being fluent in emoji, and her often sassy one-liners. Her best day at work was when everyone dressed up as her for her birthday.