Actor lands breakout role in Grease

The creative and performing arts industry is one of those fields which requires a combination of passion, persistence, and dedication. Enter Talia Chenaye. Since graduating from Excelsia with a Bachelor of Dramatic Art, the actor has developed a reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

Chenaye is currently playing Frenchy in So Popera’s recent production of Grease. The upcoming performer admits she was, understandably, nervous to play such an iconic role.

‘When I got the call from Amy, our Director at So Popera Productions, asking me to play Frenchy, I was so overwhelmed with excitement, but I also felt my heart drop, knowing I had big shoes to fill,’ says Chenaye. ‘Frenchy is such a well-loved character, and I couldn’t wait to start character development on her to create her voice and little quirks.’

Chenaye’s role as Frenchy has seen her reunited with Excelsia’s Acting for Screen Lecturer and acclaimed actor Jay Laga’aia. Working alongside Laga’aia was a special experience that allowed her to learn from one of the best in the business.

‘Jay is very well-versed in theatre and screen, so it was a privilege to work together,” she explains. “He was really invested in the story we got to tell together in ‘Beauty School Dropout’. It was great to collaborate to see how much of a story we could portray in one song! (even if it involves being hit on the head with a beauty school diploma).’

Chenaye’s success is proof that perseverance pays off. What keeps her on a path of continued growth is the ultimate ingredient – persistence.

‘No matter what the industry throws at you, keep going,’ says Chenaye. ‘There is lots to learn and many obstacles to overcome. It takes time and nothing is an overnight success. Be patient, ride the ups and downs and when opportunities arise, trust yourself and do the best you possibly can in that role.’

The arts community was hit early and hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Despite this, Chenaye is ready to live intentionally in 2021 and make her dreams a reality.

‘At the moment I’m loving musical theatre and voice-over acting so I’d like to keep progressing in those streams of the industry. With the industry being shut down during COVID-19 it was tough at times, but my goals for 2021 are to act in more film projects, keep expanding my industry network, create a structured client base as a voice-over artist and take up defence/stunt classes.’

Chenaye is deeply, honestly engaged in the world around her, realising the power she has to make a difference in the industry through her work.

‘I’d love to somehow increase the funding for the arts so aspiring actors and performers can be paid for their work,” she explains. “There is a huge gap in the industry between study and professional theatre/productions and it would be nice to be an ambassador for the smaller artists who would also like to make a living doing what they love.’