Career Advice: Yvonne Strahovski, Aussie star.




Be a sponge.

That’s what Yvonne Strahovski recommends.

The stunning Aussie actress is kicking all kinds of goals in Hollywood. She recently starred opposite Keifer Sutherland in 24: Live Another Day, and blew away audiences and critics, with some even hailing her as ‘the female Jack Bauer’.

AND she got to play with a taser.

Yvonne, 32, was born and raised on the shores of Sydney and has a Bachelor of Arts (Performance) from the School of the Contemporary Arts at the University of Western Sydney. After her 2003 graduation, she smashed out a few roles in Aussie TV and film for a few years – Headland, Sea Patrol, I Love You Too – and then moved to LA. Within days, she was cast in her breakthrough role in the NBC action-comedy Chuck. Then came Dexter. And I, Frankenstein. And 24. And soon, Adrien Brody in Manhattan Nocturne.

Yvonne is the embodiment (and what a gorgeous one, at that) of one thing: Hard work pays off.


LG: Was there some kind of classic moment in LA when you were ‘spotted’ and cast for Chuck, like when Charlize Theron threw a tantrum in a bank?

YS: Not quite! I was actually in Australia when I auditioned. I put down my own tape (for any non-actors, that means filming yourself acting out the required scene). I hired a studio by myself, bought along my friend to read with, sent off the tape. Then I jumped on a plane and arrived in LA, and got a phone call the next day. It was really one thing after another, it felt like a fairytale. It also felt as if I was thrown in the deep end.

LG: And left to sink or swim?

YS: (Laughing) Exactly.

LG: How does it feel to be so damn famous? Is it as glamorous as it looks?

YS: I never really thought about that aspect before it happened. I went to drama school because I loved acting and wanted to hone my skills. I never anticipated where I’d end up. To be honest, I could have done with a little more training with that side of it! At drama school, you don’t train to do interviews and be on the red carpet and respond to fan mail – it’s a part of the job that I’ve had to learn as I go along. Also, I was always a tomboy growing up, I never used to be interested in high heels and make-up. So I have had to develop a new appreciation for fashion. I often pinch myself.

LG: I suspect famous people spend lots of their time sitting on sun lounges, drinking martinis and stroking pet tigers. Does that sound accurate?

YS: (Laughing) Oh yeah! No, it’s been pretty consistently busy, I’ve just moved to London for six months when filming 24, so it turns your life upside-down and you end up in a place that you aren’t familiar with.That can be hard work at times, but I also love it. And I’m always conscious that I’m lucky to be one of those who is able to do what I love.

LG: How’s LA treating you? Does it feel like home?

YS: It’s lovely. I feel like I’m at home because I live near the beach here. I spent most of my childhood frolicking around on beaches. I’m really able to switch off in my surroundings.

LG: Do you get more attention in everyday life in USA or here?

YS: Definitely more in the States, I guess because it’s the hub of the acting industry so everyone knows who everyone is.

LG: In 24, your character Kate Morgan gets to play with tasers and kick a lot of butts. How is it playing an absolute badass?

YS: It’s a great opportunity to be able to play a character that’s so meaty. When I read this female character, I was so excited. This girl that gets to go head-to-head with Jack Baeur and knows how to handle herself. And what an extraordinary opportunity to work opposite Keifer. I also have now had a lot of experience with working with guns and stunt work and fight scenes, so I was really able to focus on the character in 24 rather than the physical work. But I never thought I’d have so much gun training under my belt!

LG: When Kate is hunting Jack Bauer, she says ‘everybody has a weak spot’. What’s yours?

YS: Interesting question. As an actor you are always vulnerable to other people to hire you. It’s the reason why a lot of actors are becoming producers and starting their own companies, more than ever before. It’s hard to only rely on others to hire you, and that’s a weak spot for all actors.

LG: Talk to me about workaholic-ism. How do you go finding balance?

YS: It can be a little challenging at times! When you’re on set every day and working the long hours, it’s hard. Especially in TV where there is multiple scripts. You have to find what I’ve been calling my ‘inner zen’ whether it’s surfing or a cup of tea and ten minutes of silence in the morning. It’s important to recognise when your body and mind need some relaxation.

LG: As an actor, do you think you needed your degree?

YS: One hundred percent. I think that’s one of the reasons why Australian actors are well received in the States, because we have great extensive training programs. We do the acting in our training, but we also do the singing and the physical expression and the dance classes and the stage combat – it’s a whole intense experience. It’s three whole years of dedication, and it is appreciated in the States. Having those skills in theatre is very, very helpful when you are working in television, it all translates.

LG: You seemed to have already done everything. Broadway, TV, film, even video game. What’s left that you want to conquer?

YS: Shakespeare! I grew up doing Shakespeare and would love to touch base.

LG: What’s the best career advice you can give us, either in acting or in life?

YS: So hard to sum up in one sentence. I think the analogy of ‘being a sponge’, absorbing everything around you and learning constantly, is so important. In every occupation. Honing skills constantly. Everyone has some kind of lesson, you just have to listen.


LG: Are you on a fantale? Do you find out when you are, or just buy packets and cross your fingers?

YS: (Laughing) I have no idea! That’d be pretty exciting if I was.

LG: I think you should go down to the supermarket and buy a packet right now.

YS: Maybe I will!

LG: Good girl.

And she was.

Keep an eye on this girl. She’s going all the way.


If you haven’t seen Yvonne in serious ass-kicking action, 24: Live Another Day is available on Blu-ray & DVD October 1.