Get to Know Laurel Devenie
Laurel plays Kate Nathan, the newcomer nurse and former nemesis of Nicole. Learn a little more about her here.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Christchurch and lived there till I was eight. Then we moved to Whangarei where I stayed till I was eighteen. That feels like home to me.
How long have you been acting and how did you get your first big break?
I was always making theatre at school and my father is an actor so I grew up in the theatre, watching it all the time (and traipsing through dressing rooms). After a few years of figuring out what to do after leaving high school, I went to Toi Whakaari; The NZ Drama School. I graduated from there about nine years ago and have been freelancing ever since. I also did four months at The John Bolton Theatre School.
I don't really believe in the idea of a "big break". I think that's a bit of a myth. For me it has been more like a very long steady climb its never ending. I guess I've just tried to keep working all the time and say yes to everything. In this country I think its about building strong working relationships with people, which is just about time and commitment.
I've had some really transformative opportunities for sure. A couple of goodies wereThe Upside Down of the World , a solo play written by my classmate Arthur Meek, that was produced by Auckland Theatre Company and directed by Colin McColl. That was such a pleasure to perform and investigate, and I was been lucky enough to do it all over the country and in New York and Edinburgh. That experience taught me SOOOOOOO much.
Also, more recently I got to do an adaptation ofThe Dolls House by the wonderful Emily Perkins, again with ATC. That was a whopper of a part that really took me by the scruff of the neck. So those are two pretty big moments so far for me and I'm extremely grateful for them.
But I guess a 'break' implies something that is sudden and out of your control. I have just tried to keep working, finding a way to work, keep gravitating towards the people who I admire and want to work with and excite me.
Name three similarities between you and your onscreen character.
1. Like Kate, I can get myself into trouble when I feel like I am right or I am being backed into a corner. I can react impulsively and emotionally.
2. I often find myself in arguments about 'the system' or conversations about the way things are done. I subscribe to the thinking that 'just because they have always been done that way, doesnt make it right'. Kate can be impassioned and righteous. Me too.
3. I can be pretty hot headed sometimes so can Kate.
What has been your best experience/scene on the show to date?
There have been lots of fun days but early on when Kate and Blue first arrive on the scene things get out of hand I got to punch Jack (Reuben Milner) in the stomach in triage. Ridiculous.
Which other character would you like to be and why?
I think Curtis (Jayden Daniels) has a pretty great ride. I like him because he gets into trouble a lot but still manages to be loveable and a central factor of the Shortland Street community. His values are strong but he's susceptible to temptation. Jayden does a great job.
What are your hobbies/interests outside of SS?
Sheesh I can get pretty consumed by what I'm doing and other things related to theatre making and story telling. But here's a little list:
Going to the theatre / reading stories / making up stories / yoga / cycling / singing / hanging out with my family / Northland beach trips / Whangarei vegetable markets / bush walks
What do you do in your down time during the day when youre not shooting?
Learn lines / walk / yoga. I am part of a theatre company calledCompany of Giantsand there is always various things going on to help out with or sort out / wait patiently to be called onto set.
What is your favourite destination in NZ and overseas?
Whangarei beaches (Whale bay and Daisy bay) / Wanaka / Gisborne
New York blew my socks off. I also went to Cambodia with a friend a few years ago and that was pretty humbling.
What is your date of birth and what star sign are you?
March 1. Pisces.
Do you have any pets?
I live with a small dog called Ari but apart from that I'm not really reliable enough to have pets at the moment.
Who is the actor or actress that you look up to or admire the most?
Danielle Cormack, Jennifer Ludlam, Rima Te Wiata, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Jessica Lange, Stuart Devenie.
What is the thing you enjoy most about going to work everyday?
People are extremely friendly and welcoming and everyone knows how it works here it's been going for so long and the processes are so slick and well oiled. People are very kind in helping you figure out how it all works. And getting to work out how to tell these stories over and over is pretty cool. Trying to figure out how and why people behave how they do is endlessly fascinating and extraordinary.
What has been your favorite scene to film in your time at Shortland Street?
Kate's job interview with Nicole when she first arrives was pretty audacious and fun. I enjoy the stuff with Blue he is unpredictable so there is always lots to find in that stuff.
Do you watch Shortland Street at home? If yes, is it strange seeing yourself on television or are you used to it?
I watched it avidly when I was younger and it all feels relatively similar the caféis the weirdest one I remember Lionel who ran it back then. Yeah it's very strange.
What is your favourite food?
Salted Caramel Chocolate
Haloumi Cheese from the Whangarei markets
What is your favourite television programme and/or film of all time?
The Simpsons. The Wizard Of Oz.
Are you from Auckland or did you move her to film Shortland Street? Where did you grow up?
Ive lived in Auckland for the last 6 or 7 years I come and go between here and Whangarei. Auckland is a centrifugal force especially as an actor you can never really get too far away.
Which other actors/actresses do you like working with the most and why?
Well so far I've only worked with a few but I really enjoy working with Pua (Vinnie) because he cracks everybody up and that's fun and kind of keeps you on the edge. Jarod (Mo) and Sally (Nicole) are both really wonderful and welcoming and friendly. I'm really enjoying working with Tash (Blue) because we are both learning the ropes together. And Laura (Victoria) is great our scenes are so full of tension, and they are such different characters that there's a lot to play with. Laura is super fun.
Have you made any good friends amongst the cast and crew?
I've known Jennifer since I was young and we've worked together a few times so she is a good mate, and I'm stoked to share her dressing room. I've worked a bit with Arlo (George) who is also a dream to work with. I've known a few of the others from various projects, lots of new friends too.
Whats the best experience youve had with a fan/fans?
Haven't had any yet.
Can you remember your first day on Shortland Street what was it like?
I was extremely nervous and despite everyone being very warm and lovely and welcoming I was a bit like a rabbit in headlights. It was also a rehearse/record day which means you haven't rehearsed the scene first and I hadn't met the crew or the director yet, so it all felt very strange and fast. Once the first scene was over it was a big relief to know how it goes.