Shalom Brune-Franklin, 2017 Heath Ledger Scholarship Finalist
Originally from the United Kingdom, Shalom Brune-Franklin moved to Perth with her family in 2008 with her natural acting ability drawing the attention of her high school drama teacher and netting her the school’s drama award for high achievement. Furthering her acting studies at WAAPA, Shalom graduated in 2015 and has since appeared in the Marvel Studios-produced hit feature film Thor: Raganarock as well as the BBC Production’s television show Our Girl Channel Nine’s Doctor Doctor and ABC TV’s Barracuda.. In 2016 Shalom was also the inaugural recipient of the Chris Edmund Scholarship and most recently, was nominated for the Graham Kennedy Award For Most Outstanding Newcomer at the 2017 TV Week Logie Awards.
AiF: Where do you call home right now?
SBF: Home at the moment is an apartment in Cape Town, South Africa for at least the next three months but my real home is Perth in Australia.
AiF: When did the acting bug first bite you and you knew it was your calling?
SBF: I was in year twelve at high school and failing miserably in my math class so I changed to drama thinking it would be a walk in the park but everything changed for me once I got there. I ended up graduating with the highest mark in my school and performed my OSP (Original Scripted Performance) at Perth’s His Majesty Theatre in front of a sold-out audience. That’s when I knew this was what I wanted to do!
AiF: What inspires you in life?
SBF: My family mostly – I'm so inspired that my parents decided to change their lives from living in a London council flat where we had almost nothing, to moving across the world to Australia. It was the most incredible thing they could have ever done for us. And now my mother has just been accepted into the police force in Western Australia and I’m so proud to see her flourish in her own right. If I'm honest, I'm also inspired by my younger self because I really didn't have much and I longed for so much – just to be able to have my own home and afford food every night.
AiF: Who are your favorite actors and/or filmmakers and why do they resonate with you?
SBF: Growing up I was obsessed with Edward Norton and I loved every film he was in because I thought his choices were so interesting and different. Now, Stephan Graham is one of my favorite actors – he honestly makes me forget where I am when he acts and he just nails every role every single time. Then there’s Denzel Washington who is just Denzel and I also really love Ethan Hawke because he is so easy to watch and so talented. And Viola Davies is also a huge inspiration for me – she is just mind-blowing and has knocked so many doors down for so many other women of color can come forward.
AiF: What work are you most proud of creating so far in your career?
SBF: I wrapped a job at the beginning of the year with Peter Kosminksy called The State on Channel 4 in the UK. The show is about teenagers radicalized by ISIS and follows their cross-border journey into the Islamic state and what happens to them all when they get there. I worked with actors from around the world and it was such an enriching and incredible experience and such a daring and well-researched production. I’m so proud to be a part of it!
AiF: How are you hoping your career will unfold in the years to come?
SBF: I would love to continue being part of great work – projects that really mean something to me. It’s important for me to not feel inhibited in playing roles because of my skin color, I want to play all the roles and I want to play roles that tell incredible stories. I’m currently playing one of the first women to join the frontlines of the British army, which will be a reality as of 2018, and these kinds of compelling roles are the ones I will always chase.
AiF: When did you first hear about the Heath Ledger Scholarship and make the decision to enter?
SBF: I was at WAAPA when I first heard about the Scholarship and a friend of mine was a finalist last year but I’d never really thought to apply before as I didn’t understand the process or what you had to do to be eligible. My agent Mark really encouraged me to go for it though and now here we are [laughs]!
AiF: What does California represent for you in terms of your dreams, aspirations and goals in life?
SBF: For me it’s interesting – on the one hand I think California is the place where it all happens, the biggest place in the world for what I do, so it’s only the right step to end up there. But it also seems like a place many kids can get lost in too so I’m in no real to jump there too quickly without being ready and having the tools to do so. If I can secure projects in the U.S. that would be the final piece of the puzzle for me as I’m currently working in Australia and the U.K.
AiF: What are your favorite parts of California and what makes them so appealing?
SBF: I have never been to the U.S. – I’ve never travelled anywhere even close to it – so I don’t know what my favorite parts of California will be but it’s so appealing because it really is the entertainment capital of the world. I do know I want to see all the studios in Los Angeles and do all the tourist stuff. And I really want to check out all the beaches, I think that’s where I would spend most of my time.
AiF: What would it mean to you if you won the Heath Ledger Scholarship for 2017?
SBF: I honestly don't know how to put into words what it would mean to me…everything! It would give me an introduction to the industry in the U.S. that I could only dream of right now, and I know it would set me off in the right way on the right path there. It would also really help me to achieve everything I have just spoken about. It would just be insane.
Heath Ledger Scholarship 2017 presenting partners are Qantas, Visit California, Screenwise and Ausfilm.
AiF would also like to thank Penfolds and Kate Raynor & Associates, official Immigration law partner.