Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
I’m Melanie Hayward and I’m an actor based in Brisbane, Australia. And what started as a passion in acting, has turned into an absolute love affair with every aspect of the filmmaking process.
Producing fills me with much joy but I wasn’t prepared for the spark that would be ignited in me as a director.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I initially wanted to create my own acting opportunities by creating my own content and sought to learn everything I could about the whole filmmaking process. I’ve now written, produced and directed over a dozen short films (many of which I also act in), and have won numerous awards in festivals all around the world.
Sometimes being an actor can feel elusive, but film festivals are a wonderful way for anyone with a dream and a bit of moxy to get their work seen by audiences. And I’m thankful to have had those opportunities. It really does fuel the fire within to keep going and do even more!
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
It’s actually the moments I’m not acting that make me realise just how much it feeds my soul. I’m always thinking about characters I want to play and scenes I’d like to act out. While watching a movie or series, I imagine myself in those roles and situations; or going for a walk I’m inspired by beautiful sceneries; even eating out at a cafe I can’t help observe people’s behaviours. I guess I’m just obsessed with the human condition!
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
There’s many challenges I’ve had to face to improve as an actor. All the usual ones like self doubt and imposter syndrome constantly come into play. There’s the business side – as actors we can’t sit around and wait for the phone to ring.
We must always be training and marketing ourselves to help our agents and get work. It has taken a lot of practice networking and selling myself as a “product” but I still feel uncomfortable talking myself up! Then there’s the creative side – working a side hustle full time to pay the bills is extremely challenging while also dedicating time to train regularly with acting techniques, accents, movement, etc.
It’s not for the faint of heart but the passion I feel makes it all worth it. That’s one of the things I love about fellow creatives is the shared passion and drive to create something magical that people will watch.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
I’ve always been a fan of Bill Hader and his comedy but when I first saw his show Barry I was absolutely inspired to see what he was achieving as a director who is also acting in his own show. This is something I aspire to and could learn a lot from Bill.
Toni Collette is a phenomenal Australian actress whose career I could only dream of having. I could talk with her for hours about her process for creating such memorable characters.
I grew up watching Sandra Bullock and her 90s movie The Net even made me want to study IT and become a computer systems analyst. I did, and I didn’t like it at all! I found acting later in life and looking back, I really should’ve known then it was the acting I loved and not IT! Her versatility is one of the things I love and her career is still as strong as ever. That kind of longevity is definitely something I would like for my own career.