“I’ve been ready for this for a long time. I’ve been training for this since I was 13.”: Stef Dawson on her The Hunger Games role.
Being part of The Hunger Games phenomenon produces instant results - earlier this week former Canberra girl Stef Dawson had about 100 followers on Twitter, when news broke she had been cast in the latest movies that number exploded to more than 5000, and counting.
"I think it’s going to be a wild ride,’’ she said, from Los Angeles.
The former Canberra Girls Grammar School and Radford College student auditioned only three weeks ago for the part of Annie Cresta in the upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 films.
“I did one audition and that was enough. Apparently, they were blown away, they didn’t have to see any more,” she said.
Dawson has already been embraced by the loyal fans of The Hunger Games franchise but says her career has been a hard slog rather than an overnight success, working in LA for the last three years.
“It’s amazing because my life changed in a month. I actually booked another film as well, it’s a lead in a film shooting in New York,” she said.
“So I’ve now booked quite a few films now in a short time and that’s what it’s like here, you work and work and work and I’ve been close to having big break a few times but I always felt this role was meant to be, it was the perfect fit.
“I’ve been ready for this for a long time. I’ve been training for this since I was 13.”
The film in New York is called Creedmoria and is about a teenage girl growing up in Queens in the 1980s.
“It’s completely different to Annie. It’s going to be great - two completely different roles,” she said.
Dawson was born in Canberra and grew up in the leafy suburb of Farrer, enjoying the space that the bush capital had to offer.
“I spent my entire childhood riding horses,” she said.
“That was my life growing up. I was a bush kid. I also did gymnastics on horseback which was another form of performing and lead into the acting.”
And that sort of background will hold her in good stead for the films which are notoriously physical.
“It’s funny, it did come up in the audition,” she said.
Her father Steve is a psychologist and her mother Jennifer Bromley is a doctor. She has a sister Julia who lives in Sydney.
Dawson studied theatre and opera at the University of Wollongong but as a child would attend classes at NIDA in Sydney.
“My mum very kindly used to drive me to NIDA every week to do classes. I did everything I could get my hands on growing up in Canberra but then eventually I had to look elsewhere because it’s limited for acting,’’ she said.
“But growing up in Canberra mad be really grounded and had a very outdoorsy background which gives you a certain confidence.”
She is ready for The Hunger Games ride.
“I’ve been a fan of the books even before they were made into films. I love the message [author] Suzanne Collins is saying in them,” she said.
“Probably how people can turn on each other and become their worst enemies, when it’s those around you, you really need to survive. I think love is a big thing for my character Annie, she wouldn’t survive without love, she’s at breaking point.”
Dawson said she would bring definite attributes to the role of Annie Cresta, a victor from District 4 and the love interest of Finnick, played by British actor Sam Claflin.
“I think I have a fragility and a vulnerability,” she said.
“I think she’s a a girl that has been through some stuff, she’s had some really hard experiences in her life which I have as well. Annie is also a survivor.
And her hard work and “giving up all you know to come to some strange place” has been worth it.
“I hope this inspires other people, no matter what their dreams are to never give up,” she said.
“I always knew that this would happen, it was a funny feeling - don’t give up, because it will be okay. You do it because you love the art, living a thousand lives and giving voice to stories.”