Danielle Cormack is wandering the halls of Parliament House before the Canberra premiere screening of Secret City: Under the Eagle.
The actor, who plays a feisty independent MP from South Australia, pauses in front of a wall of photographs of our female parliamentarians - there’s 75 of them, out of 226. She studies their faces and reads their biographies, caught in a moment between the character she’s playing and the real-life women who call this grand building their office.
“There were so many amazing politicians to draw from for this role,” she says, of her character Karen Koutoufides.
"There was talk in the writer's room about Jacqui Lambie, but I looked towards some independent MPs in this country and also female politicians, women who have been pioneers and have lobbied for policy that has been life-changing for a lot of women.”
You can't help but see glimpses of Lambie.
"Karen is someone who really needs to be heard, who hasn't been heard, who's speaking out for the marginalised, - that's indictitave of her nature," she says.
The New Zealand-born actor seems passionate about politics. We’re here to talk about the second series of the Foxtel show, which premieres on March 4 - but she’s happy to follow tangents to gender equity, motherhood, politics and power.
“It’s not a fair playing field - I don’t think I would ever get into politics," she says.
“I think I’m better using my voice as a - inverted commas - public figure, if you like, instead of jumping into the real world.”
While Secret City, once again, is a thrilling tale of espionage, politics and international relations all shot here in our home town, there’s something of a feminist edge to the second series. Women seem to shine in every scene.
The indomitable Jacki Weaver is back as Catriona Bailey, now Minister for Home Affairs - the most powerful, and conniving, woman in the land.
Anna Torv returns as investigative journalist Harriet Dunkley: out of prison, and wondering whether she can put herself in the middle of another conspiracy.
Sacha Horler, who in series one was the chief of staff to the prime minister, is now hosting her own Sky News political panel show. Louisa Mignone plays Mina Almasi, a former cellmate of Dunkley’s and an Iraqi woman with a tragic past.
At the centre of it all is Cal Treloar, a former RAAF pilot who saw combat in Afghanistan, played by Canberra-born actor Laura Gordon.
“I feel like a walking spoiler alert,” Gordon says about her character.
“I loved playing Cal, she's kick-arse and fragile and everything in between, but I’m not allowed to say too much about her. She's on the run in the first couple of episodes; there's a lot of people in Canberra and the military who want to know what information she has. She's in danger, it's very mysterious and it has a super-exciting pay-off.”
Gordon says it was somewhat surreal coming back to shoot in her home town.
“Usually when I come here it’s tools down and I’m relaxing, but it was great to be working here," she says.
“I know growing up in Canberra I always wondered why there was nothing shot here; it's such a beautiful city visually and with Parliament here too it's such fertile ground for drama.
“I think people in Canberra will be excited to see something shot here that in some way reflects their lives.”
Cormack and Gordon both say it was a no-brainer to get on board the second Secret City.
“To be part of complex, sophisticated storytelling is a great opportunity,” Cormack says.
“The writing across the board was so strong and it was great for so many leadership positions for women created on screen.”
Secret City: Under the Eagle premieres on Fox Showcase on March 4, 8.30pm. All six episodes will be available to stream.