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Orange Is The New Black

Series 2, Episode 1 Thirsty Bird 01 Sep 14 00:53:52

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Shortland Street

Weeknights at 7pm | TV2

Get to know Ria Vandervis


Ria Vandervis plays Harper Whitley on Shortland Street

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, and lived there until I had finished high school at the age of 17.


How long have you been acting and how did you get your first big break?

I have been acting to an extent for most of my life. I started speech and drama lessons at the age of 4, and was always involved in school production and the drama club. My first big break was probably playing Miratrix on Power Rangers, Operation Overdrive, which was very soon after I had graduated from Drama School.


Name three similarities between you and your onscreen character.

We are both strong women, and very driven and focused. Harper is perhaps more easily able to compartmentalize the different aspects of her life than I am, however we both do things very efficiently!


What has been your best experience/scene on the show to date?

My best experience on the show to date has been working with Angela Bloomfield - she is such a pro and I love watching her work and learning from her. She also has funny anecdotes about storylines from the past 21 years which she imparts when we are working on different sets. I loved it when working in the Warner's house one day she said, 'Be careful walking down those stairs - Chris's first wife fell down them and died'!


Which other character would you like to be and why?

Brooke Freeman, because she is always scheming and meddling, which is really fun to play. She has very strong character motivations.


What are your hobbies/interests outside of Shortland Street?

I love running our company Konstruct(.com) with my husband and our two other business partners. It is really exciting and rewarding.

I am also a marriage celebrant in my spare time, which is an amazing job, as I love love!

I enjoy reading, going for runs and pottering in the garden and round the house. I love a good dinner party and socialising with friends and family, and although I love food, cooking is not my strong point yet - but I'm starting to get into it!!


What do you do in your down time during the day when you're not shooting?

Aside from learning lines which takes up a lot of time, I exercise, and spend time working on my company Konstruct.com which specializes in branded apparel and promo products.


What is your favourite destination in NZ and overseas?

I absolutely love heading to Queenstown both in Summer and Winter - it is such a beautiful place in all seasons, with loads to do. I also have fond memories of family holidays spent there when I was young.

Overseas, it would have to be Vietnam. I spent 4 weeks there in my early 20s and fell in love with the place. The energy is awesome, the history is rich and the people are beautiful. The food is also amazing!! I can't wait to go back!


How many brothers and sisters do you have?

I am the eldest of 4 kids - 3 girls and a boy aged 26, 23 and 17, and I have a half brother who is 8.


What is your date of birth and what star sign are you?

July 5th, 1984. Cancerian.


Do you have any pets?

No.


Who is the actor or actress that you look up to or admire the most?

My favourite actor crush is James Franco, and I really admire the work and attitude of Jennifer Lawrence. She is fantastic in interviews.


What is the thing you enjoy most about going to work everyday?

I love the feeling of community here at Shorty, it is so nice to be a part of it. Also the pressure of the short time frames for each scene can be a real adrenalin rush.


What has been your favorite scene to film in your time at Shortland Street?

So far, my favourite scenes to film have been in the ED, as there is always loads of action.


Do you watch Shortland Street at home? If yes, is it strange seeing yourself on television or are you used to it?

I sometimes watch Shortland Street - and I have not aired yet so I can't tell you, however I can imagine it will be surreal.


What is your favourite food?

I love Asian cuisine - especially Vietnamese and Japanese. And I am also a chocoholic! My favourite takeaway in Auckland is Renkon on Ponsonby Road, and my favourite splurge is Ponsonby Road Bistro for special occasions.


What is your favourite television programme and/or film of all time?

My favourite TV shows are Love My Way (Australian) and Six Feet Under. They both have really complex and interesting characters.


Are you from Auckland or did you move her to film Shortland Street? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Dunedin, but left when I was 17 after I had finished high school. I moved to Auckland for University and Drama School, and then moved to Sydney where I lived for nearly 5 years. I have lived back in Dunedin for the last 18 months, and moved up to Auckland to shoot Shorty St. in February.


Which other actors/actresses do you like working with the most and why?

Angela Bloomfield - she is such a pro and I love watching her work and learning from her. She also has funny anecdotes about storylines from the past 21 years which she imparts when we are working on different sets. I loved it when working in the Warner's house one day she said, 'Be careful walking down those stairs - Chris's first wife fell down them and died'!


Have you made any good friends amongst the cast and crew?

I have really enjoyed getting to know Amy Usherwood - we are both from Dunedin and spent time living in Sydney so we have lots in common. I share my dressing room with Shavaugn and Teuila, and they are both great too.


What's the best experience you've had with fans?

I have not aired on Shorty so can't comment on that, but I had to go to a Power Rangers' convention in LA which was awesome, scary and surreal all at once! The fans are not children, and they know more about the show than you do!


What's the strangest experience you've had with fans?

At the Power Rangers convention in LA (see above) being chased around the convention centre by intense Power Rangers fans asking endless questions. You never had any down time unless you were locked away in your room.


Can you remember your first day on Shortland Street - what was it like?

Yes, and it was terrifying! Luckily I was working with Amanda Billing (Sarah Potts) so she was very kind to me and helped me along. Getting used to the pace and the volume of scenes/dialogue has taken a while, but now I am starting to love it!


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