Updated: Jan 14, 2020
This pseudo-Aussie actress chats to us about the isolating nature of screenwriting, her dark desire to work on a Gaspar Noé-esque film, and women that inspire her. I say pseudo Aussie because Zenith was born in Scotland, raised in Australia and now lives and works in Los Angeles. She is a true multi-national talent, with amazing accents to match. Keep your eye on this one, she's going to explode in 2020.
What brought you to LA?
A cold, cold German winter. I was living in Berlin, post a hectic time working in Australia. I had accumulated upward of 3000 hours working on set (in locations and logistics) over the previous 6 months, and while happy as heck to be there every day working on incredible shoots like Mad Max, Fury Road, and Russell Crowe's The Water Diviner, I missed the personal creative aspect of story and acting. I moved to Berlin and was in pre-production for a short I had written and was going to be starring in, set in Doel Belgium. Doel is an amazing ghost town set on the sea, right next to a nuclear power station. They breed those Belgian Blue muscle cows in a farm adjacent; weird script inspo alert! It was proving difficult to crew a production in Belgium from Berlin, and then the European winter set in. Then I got a call from a friend in L.A. asking if I knew anyone who wanted to sublet his roommate's room (as he was producing in Atlanta over the winter). I looked at my partner, we looked out the window at the perpetual gray sky and decided we didn't have much of a decision to make. "We're on our way!" I was in L.A. a week later. It had always been my dream to work in the industry in Los Angeles.
What is the biggest misconception about you?
Haha! That I'm going to emotionally destroy you. I think I am a really chill person, but I am very observant (I'm an artist!), and sometimes people open up to me and get the fear immediately afterward. I cannot tell you how many times someone has said to me "I have no idea why I'm telling you all this, I've never said this to anyone!" - I always feel like I need to let people know that I'm not intending to destroy their life, but that I am fascinated in their story and their motivations. People are interesting and valuable, and my entire career is built on the individual nuanced experience. I get more conversationally intense when I'm working on (writing) a script, rather than acting, because I am always looking for the deeper motivation and the why in a universe of multiple characters. Acting for me is about fleshing out the motivation of one specific character, and I prefer to keep to myself. Both writing and acting are isolating work in their own ways, but weeks in front of a computer, writing a universe of emotionally taxing folk can make me feel really, very intense. Also, I'm a Scottish Scorpio, so people are naturally cautious. My Australian accent disarms people.
"I come from a working class, single parent, immigrant background, and whether right or wrong, always have felt that I am one toe away from falling off the track. When you are raised with that feeling of being less safe than your neighbor, it's hard to ever shake it..."
If you weren't an actor & writer, what would you be doing?
I've never seriously considered doing anything but film/TV. But, I'd probably be living somewhere beautiful and eco, maybe an Earthship community, with millions of rescue dogs. I only have my one guy at the moment, my largely toothless Chihuahua, Don Cheadle. I don't know how he'd feel about sharing my love with millions of other dogs. Pretty resentful, I imagine. He's very grateful for his insanely excellent new life with me, and I don't think he'd be keen to share it. I'd also like to head a cult. But I'd still like to incorporate my passion into that, and have a reality show about it.
What gives you hope?
People who translate their values into their work. Everyone from brave writers and producers who are choosing to tell a long-awaited tale of diversity and oppression over a blockbuster, to those who believe in altruism, who feed and build the esteem of humans' who have had it tough. I come from a working class, single parent, immigrant background, and whether right or wrong, always have felt that I am one toe away from falling off the track. When you are raised with that feeling of being less safe than your neighbor, it's hard to ever shake it and makes you very empathetic toward people who are at the mercy of a political climate. While I believe that feeling of instability and lack of safety has the opportunity to transcend into resilience, I adore people who work toward changing that feeling for people; be it women, people of color, immigrants or those at the mercy of their environment. The idea of equality gives me hope.
What was the last show you binge watched?
Orange is the New Black, final season. YAY for Jenji Kohan!
Who do you look up to in the industry?
I'm so lucky to be surrounded by so many incredibly talented people. My friends Adam Zwar and Amanda Brotchie are powerhouses in the Australian industry, and they have had some success translating their work into Hollywood. I feel really proud of them because they are excellent humans creating their own success. My Canadian pal Sarah Warren produced her own feature film in London - that blows my mind. I look up to women doing their thang right now. It's challenging to overcome your fears around using your voice in this industry, let alone actually producing something into fruition. Every woman doing that right now is making it easier for the next, so I am excited about the future of women in film, so much so that I started a Facebook group to connect female cast and crew in Los Angeles. I am also super inspired by today's student filmmakers; The Next Generation. I am a professional member of BAFTA LA, and am consistently blown away at the quality of story and insight at the Student Awards each year. The youth might just save us all!
What is something people don't know about you, but you wish they did?
I love the weirdo aspect of the entertainment industry and I want to act in your horrifying experimental Gaspar Noé-esque movie so bad. I also have a funny little YouTube series I made called Roommates that has gathered quite a following. You should watch it!
What can people expect from you in 2020?
My much awaited and anticipated project that has quite a dramatic history will be happening next year. I have a secret BAFTA Award winning director attached, and I couldn't be happier. I have a rad Podcast that I will be hosting, sponsored by some super talented women - I can't say too much about that right now. I'm also bringing back Eilidh, my Scottish character, by far the most requested material I have. I'm over here trying to write and produce masterpiece dramas, and all everyone really wants to see is more of my comedy YouTube series! I've written 2 series' this year, and have a feature in the works. Expect more than I can probably handle from me in 2020!