ON THE UP

SUC­CESS AT HOME IN­SPIRED AUS­TRALIAN AC­TOR IS­ABELLE COR­NISH TO TRY HER LUCK OVER­SEAS. AF­TER BE­ING DEALT A FEW DUD HANDS, HER CA­REER IS FI­NALLY ON THE VERGE OF EX­PLOD­ING

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Words by SHAN­NON MOL­LOY

Is­abelle Cor­nish is tak­ing LA by storm.

There’s some­thing about that bumpy jour­ney – the one she takes down a fa­mil­iar, dusty drive to her fam­ily’s Hunter Val­ley farm – that fills Is­abelle Cor­nish with an in­stant sense of calm. Good thing, too. Be­cause the Aus­tralian ac­tor says she could use a bit of peace at the mo­ment.

When she speaks to Stel­lar, it has been less than 24 hours since she stepped off a flight from New York, where she was shoot­ing an ad cam­paign for cos­met­ics gi­ant Revlon. That job came on the heels of a gru­elling three months film­ing up­com­ing US tele­vi­sion se­ries In­hu­mans, part of the mega Mar­vel fran­chise, in Hawaii. And right be­fore that, she wrapped on the highly an­tic­i­pated lo­cal film Aus­tralia Day, com­ing soon to Fox­tel.

“It’s re­ally good to be home,” Cor­nish sighs, the slight­est Amer­i­can twang in her voice, ev­i­dence she has called Los An­ge­les home for the past few years.

Maybe it’s the sat­is­fied ex­haus­tion that comes with com­plet­ing a big job, or just a nat­u­ral re­ac­tion to the up-and­down na­ture of the busi­ness. Ei­ther way, the 22-year-old sounds like she could lux­u­ri­ate in lan­guor for weeks. “The still­ness of the farm, the fa­mil­iar­ity of it, the an­i­mals, it all feels per­fect – just per­fec­tion.”

Cor­nish won’t have long to savour it. In a few weeks, she hops on a plane to the States to con­tinue pur­su­ing new work. She started mak­ing that trip reg­u­larly a few years ago, af­ter carv­ing out a name for her­self here in the crit­i­cally ac­claimed Net­work Ten drama Pu­berty Blues, which fol­lowed her stint on Home And Away.

“I could see big­ger things on the hori­zon and I was like, ‘I’m go­ing,’” Cor­nish says of her de­ci­sion to move State­side. “So I hopped on a flight and signed with an agency and started chip­ping away.” Cor­nish had strong per­sonal drive on her side. Yet suc­cess, let alone luck, was harder to har­ness. She went to au­di­tion af­ter au­di­tion, fall­ing in love with a char­ac­ter only to watch it slip away to an­other ac­tor. It would be al­most three years be­tween gigs.

“Of course it was dis­heart­en­ing,” Cor­nish says of that pe­riod. “There are so many au­di­tions where you don’t get the role on your way to land­ing one. I had to trust that the roles I lost weren’t right, and that some­thing that was would come my way. If you keep do­ing the work and be the best you can be, it pays off even­tu­ally.”

And it did when Cor­nish landed a ma­jor part in In­hu­mans, a small-screen fan­tasy epic about a ge­net­i­cally al­tered race of peo­ple who have out­ra­geous su­per­pow­ers. Cor­nish plays Crys­tal, who can ma­nip­u­late the four el­e­ments. It’s some­thing of a wish ful­filled, as she is a self-con­fessed sci-fi geek.

“Who wouldn’t want to [play the role]? You get to trans­form, to do things you wouldn’t nor­mally get to do in your life.” But when it’s sug­gested the en­tire pro­fes­sion of act­ing of­fers a form of es­capism, she con­curs: “True – so this job is like a dou­ble whammy, get­ting to act and play a su­per­hero. It’s a dream.”

Many ac­tors who fi­nally land that one cru­cial job quickly dis­cover the old adage is true – when it rains, it pours. Just as shoot­ing on In­hu­mans came to an end, Cor­nish was signed as the face of Revlon’s Colorstay foun­da­tion. She fronts a ma­jor cam­paign that launches in Aus­tralia to­mor­row. It was no or­di­nary job, ei­ther. Cor­nish got to hit the streets of Man­hat­tan and play photographer, tap­ping into an­other of her pas­sions. As part of the brand’s new #Goslay cam­paign, “Revlon chal­lenged me to go around New York and shoot 24 pho­tos of 24 women who I thought were slay­ing it in their own unique way, all over a 24-hour pe­riod,” Cor­nish ex­plains. “I found women all over the city that never sleeps.”

Cor­nish is aware that a ris­ing pro­file makes her a role model to young women, par­tic­u­larly due to her grow­ing so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing. So part­ner­ing with an “ac­ces­si­ble” brand was im­por­tant, she says. She re­calls her own youth­ful ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with make-up, and ar­riv­ing at school wear­ing mas­cara and foun­da­tion for the very first time, to the de­light of her friends. “It was like dis­cov­er­ing an art form,” she says with a laugh. “Such an ex­cit­ing time for us… they were like: ‘Oh, my god, you’re wear­ing… make-up!’ Putting it on for the first time, and feel­ing more like a woman than a girl, made me feel good. It was a con­fi­dence-booster.”

She prob­a­bly didn’t need it all that much. She was just four when she en­rolled in drama classes and took lessons in mod­el­ling for the run­way; in­stantly she re­alised that per­form­ing for oth­ers could be her call­ing.

Grow­ing up, Cor­nish says she also watched older sis­ter Ab­bie – star of films in­clud­ing Candy and Sucker Punch – and saw what was pos­si­ble. “She was such a won­der­ful role model,” Cor­nish says. “To watch her do well and see her work def­i­nitely in­spired me.” De­spite their 12-year age gap, Ab­bie was happy to let her lit­tle sis­ter fol­low her ev­ery­where.

“It was kind of like she was an­other mum to me,” she says. “I would go stay with her for weeks on end.” Now she ad­mit­tedly pines for those less hec­tic days; the down­side to the busy­ness of this year has been not be­ing able to spend as much time with each other in per­son.

“It’s been hard lately – she’s away and I’ve been all over the place. But we’ll hang out soon when we’re both back in LA,” she says, be­fore cheer­ing at the thought of an oc­ca­sion that typ­i­cally re­unites far-flung fam­i­lies. “And we’ll both be home for Christ­mas this year.”

“I HAD TO TRUST THAT THE ROLES I LOST WEREN’T RIGHT. IF YOU KEEP BE­ING THE BEST YOU CAN BE IT PAYS OFF EVEN­TU­ALLY”

A LIFE ON FILM (clock­wise from top) Play­ing photographer for Revlon’s #Goslay cam­paign; Cor­nish (right) with sib­lings Hayden and Ab­bie in Syd­ney in 2011; in Pu­berty Blues; with the In­hu­mans cast.

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