Raised in Kuala Lumpur but now based in Canada, Hanneke Talbot first surprised us with a role in season two of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’.
Hollywood, the larger-than-life symbol of the entertainment industry, is a subject of fantasy for many. It’s where as many dreams are made as they are killed and buried, and where only a handful of names make it to last the tests of times to become legends in an industry that thirsts for fresh blood with a vampirific appetite.
For all its gilded glitz and glamour, it goes without saying that getting a foot in involves hard work beyond the imagination. Once in a while, a lucky break brings to surface a young talent, often times the more obscure, the better.
Hanneke Talbot is one of the names making its way up this golden ladder. Raised in Kuala Lumpur but now based in Canada after stints in the UK and Australia, she first surprised us with roles in ‘Ready or Not’ as well as in season two of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’. As we look forward to seeing her in the fifteenth season of CW’s ‘Supernatural’ as well as Brandon Cronenberg’s, ‘Possessor’, starring Andrea Riseborough (Birdman) and Sean Bean (Game of Thrones), we stole 20 minutes of her time to get to know this young budding actress who hasn’t forgotten her Malaysian roots.
Share with us a little about yourself.
I was born in the Netherlands and moved to Malaysia when I was 3. I’ve also lived in the UK and Australia but spent most of my formative years in Kuala Lumpur. I wanted to pursue a career in acting and knew that I needed training so I moved to the UK after high school to attend The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) – graduating in 2016. I’m now based in Toronto, Canada. I only first stepped foot in Canada a couple years ago as my drama school had an affiliation with a showcase here and since I had the passport (thanks Dad!) I thought; ‘what have I got to lose?’ and I’m SO glad I made the move here as it’s offered me a really exciting career journey thus far.
What inspired the move to go into acting?
Acting is something I’ve wanted to pursue ever since I was little. I have really clear memories of loving ‘show and tell’ in primary school and I used to do little puppet shows for my classmates, I’ve always loved making people laugh. But beyond that I’ve always been fascinated by the power of storytelling. Often theatre, film, music and television can capture a moment or mood in time or help shape a generation. I also love how each project can make you look at the world from a slightly different angle.
Were you in any other industries prior to trying acting?
Oh yes! Like most actors I’ve had to pay the bills with other work; mainly in hospitality in the past. I also worked throughout university to support myself. I’ve been a waitress, a host, a manager, a reservations manager, all sorts. Although it can often be dull and/or heartbreaking to do work that you’re not necessarily passionate about, it certainly taught me a lot about people and human behaviour. I think everyone should work in the service industry at some point; it helps build empathy.
What were some of the early stages of trying to break into the industry like?
I won’t lie, there were certainly some hard times. The acting industry can often feel like a very lonely place if you’re not presented with opportunities early in your career. I think it’s also the industry’s way of filtering out the people who may not be able to cope with the lifestyle. You certainly have to be determined and ready to sacrifice a lot for this career. It can also be incredibly exciting and rewarding. Each day can be different and you never know what to expect. Just last week for example I had about 2 days notice before I flew off to Serbia for a couple of days on a project so it always keeps you on your toes.
Was there a particularly difficult time you faced that you starkly remember and how did you overcome it?
I think leaving England and moving to Canada was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Having moved around a lot I think it’s certainly given me thick skin but this time it was completely different. I was stepping into a new phase of my life and fully committing to pursuing acting. I moved to Canada alone, with no family, no friends, no job and had to start a whole new life from scratch. I had to give up my home and everything I knew and loved because I knew it would provide me with better opportunities than the UK but it came at a huge cost and it was tough. There were many tears, many long conversations over whether or not it was the right decision but even in my darkest moments I somehow knew that if I ‘stuck it out’ and stayed here; I would eventually get to where I needed to be.
Two years in; things are completely different; I still regularly keep in touch with friends and family across the sea but I also have a whole new group of friends here and a whole new wealth of experience and I feel stronger for it.
What was the moment that gave you your break?
I was very lucky in that my break in Canada came relatively quickly. I had been here for six months when I booked my first big role in a horror film called, ‘Rabid’ which was a remake of the David Cronenberg classic. Then immediately after that I booked Fox Searchlight’s, ‘Ready or Not’ which garnered global attention and to close off that year I was lucky enough to be cast as Lt.Mann; one of the members of the bridge crew on the Starship Enterprise in Season 2 of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’, so it was a good year!
What are some of the challenges that you still face within the industry?
I think one of the real challenges can come when you’re notworking. Inevitably in every industry there are periods when it’s busy and periods when it’s not. I’ve been very lucky so far in not having too much time between projects but it can certainly make you go a bit stir crazy. I’ve usually got side projects to keep me busy and I always seem to be behind on my ‘to-do’ list but I think most adults are…right?!
What are some upcoming projects that we can look forward to seeing you in?
You’ll be able to catch me on the CW’ ‘Supernatural,’ I guest-starred on the show (S15E11) and my episode just came out in North America so it should make its way to Netflix in the next couple months. I also have a part in Brandon Cronenberg’s, ‘Possessor’ starring Andrea Riseborough (Birdman) and Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) that has just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival so I expect that’ll be in cinemas once it’s done the festival circuit.
What are you hopeful about being in this industry?
I suppose separate to the ultimate goal of doing great, challenging work that fulfils me, I’d like to be a good influence and empower others if I were to get to a stage where I had a real platform to create change. I’m a huge fan of what Jameela Jamil is doing; she’s used her platform to completely transform the way people feel about themselves and is fighting to get laws changed on advertising that promotes body shaming and eating disorders. She is absolutely incredible.
If you had a word of advice for other aspiring actors, what would it be?
I think it’s important to know that often the industry of acting can feel very far away from the art of it. I believe the reason a lot of us get into it is for the love of the craft. So really do everything in your power to hold onto that passion because it’s a wonderful thing. I think it’s also important to know that what an audience often sees is the final result of a long, arduous process. It is not all glitz and glamour; it is long hours, hard work, sacrifice and a lotof rejection. If you’ve REALLY got the inner toughness through all that, only then I’d say go for it!
If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
Well, if we lived in a world where we didn’t need money to survive I’d probably run some sort of animal rescue farm and have 17 dogs, cats and everything in between. However, realistically I’m not absolutely sure to be honest! I’d love to go back to university one day and study English literature; that’s the path I would have taken had I not gone to drama school. Most likely something to do with people, I’m definitely a people person. Who knows, let’s see where the road takes us!
(Photos: Hanneke Talbot)