The Dor­rit Diaries

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

Ste­fa­nia Owen lives a dou­ble life.

For half the year she is your aver­age teenage girl, get­ting sun­burnt at her school’s ath­let­ics day and eat­ing lol­lies with her sis­ters. But the other half is much more glam­orous – liv­ing in a New York apart­ment, act­ing in a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion show and rub­bing shoul­ders with the rich and fa­mous.

‘‘I’m lucky be­cause I get the best of both worlds,’’ she said.

‘‘I have the crazy life where I get to do some­thing I re­ally love and I’m pas­sion­ate about, and my sec­ond life is be­ing able to be a 16-year-old who can go to school and be with friends.’’

The Pau­ata­hanui teen ar­rived home late last year af­ter film­ing her sec­ond sea­son as Dor­rit, Car­rie Brad­shaw’s re­bel­lious sis­ter in The Car­rie Diaries.

Ste­fa­nia and her fa­ther, Mark, spent from July till Novem­ber the last two years in New York.

‘‘I have so much fun when I’m over there,’’ Ste­fa­nia said.

‘‘The people [the cast and crew] are so amaz­ing; we’re so close. We’re like a fam­ily.’’

De­spite fall­ing in love with the Big Ap­ple, the Chilton St James year 12 stu­dent said New Zealand would al­ways be home.

‘‘Be­ing away just makes you ap­pre­ci­ate home so much more.

‘‘It’s so ground­ing here and I love just be­ing with my fam­ily.

‘‘When I come back I kind of an­a­lyse ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened to me, be­cause when I’m over there ev­ery­thing is hap­pen­ing so fast.’’

She said be­ing with friends and fam­ily in New Zealand was what she ap­pre­ci­ated most.

While in New York there was one Porirua icon she missed a lot – Whit­taker’s Choco­late.

‘‘Last time I was over there I brought over some choco­late from here. Ev­ery time some­body would come over, I’d give it to them and they loved it.’’

Un­like many of her show­biz peers, Ste­fa­nia did not start out want­ing a ca­reer as an ac­tress.

‘‘It was still just a fun thing for me to do. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I want to be an ac­tor’. I never thought that.’’

Ste­fa­nia said she en­joyed the com­pany of all her cast­mates.

‘‘No-one is my favourite. Ev­ery­one is so amaz­ing. We will go shop­ping, we will have sleep­overs, we bake to­gether.

‘‘Sim­ple things like that that you do as a fam­ily. It’s re­ally like that. It’s es­pe­cially nice for me since I’m used to hav­ing my sis­ters around.’’

Ste­fa­nia said that though she loved her new life, with her re­cent fame had come fake friends and be­ing recog­nised of­ten.

‘‘ It’s still weird for me that people see me as an ac­tress. I see my­self as Stefi the dork.’’

The Amer­i­can-born ac­tress has been work­ing on The Car­rie Diar- ies for two years, but said only af­ter com­ing back to New Zealand this time did people re­ally recog­nise her.

‘‘When I’m over there I’m used to people recog­nis­ing me now, be­cause I’m there to act. It’s why I’m there.

‘‘But here, this is my nor­mal life, where I went to school. It was just weird be­cause this is home.’’

De­spite liv­ing in New York half the year, Ste­fa­nia still needs to bal­ance school work here.

The year 12 stu­dent passed NCEA level 1 with ex­cel­lence last year, be­fore leav­ing in July. She has a tu­tor in New York.

‘‘I’m a per­son who if I set my­self some­thing, I have to get there. I can’t just do it half­way.’’

When the ques­tion of how much she earns was raised, she sim­ply said she was happy with it.

‘‘It’s a good amount and I get to take my par­ents out for din­ner.’’

A small role in Peter Jack­son’s The Lovely Bones, au­di­tion­ing for Amer­i­can film Let Me In and a cen­tral role in short-lived com­edy Run­ning Wilde, with Will Ar­nett and Keri Rus­sell, gave her the con­fi­dence to au­di­tion for The Car­rie Diaries.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing kept pro­gress­ing,’’ she said. ‘‘I re­alised I loved it [act­ing] and wanted to do it.’’

With fame has come 57,000 In­st­gram fol­low­ers.

‘‘It’s funny be­cause you can’t re­veal too much, but you have to re­veal enough. People want to feel like they know you and want to know what you’re do­ing.’’

She said she gets about 100 new fol­low­ers a day.

Ste­fa­nia gets in­vited to A-lis­ter events and even has Vanessa Hud­gens’ num­ber in her phone, but it’s a New Zealand celebrity who has left her starstruck: Brooke Fraser, who lives in the same build­ing in New York.

‘‘She’s what you imag­ine her to be. She is so nice. That was one of my freak-outs. Her songs are on my iPod right now.’’

Ste­fa­nia’s The Car­rie Diaries char­ac­ter Dor­rit is a re­bel­lious teenager who wears dark makeup and clothes, but the ac­tress said she was much more fresh-faced in real life.

‘‘ My re­bel­lious­ness lives through her, so I don’t have to go through my own streak of re­bel­lious­ness.

‘‘We’re sim­i­lar in the way we know what we want and what’s right.’’

Ste­fa­nia said while she was nowhere near as re­bel­lious as Dor­rit, she was still like any teenage girl.

‘‘I some­times have an at­ti­tude with my par­ents, but it’s part of grow­ing up.’’

If The Car­rie Diaries does not get picked up for a third sea­son, Ste­fa­nia said she would con­tinue school­ing in New Zealand and keep au­di­tion­ing.

And as for any se­crets about sea­son three, Ste­fa­nia said she has no idea what might hap­pen.

‘‘That’s the good thing about TV – even you’re sur­prised. Things hap­pen ev­ery episode that you wouldn’t ex­pect.’’

Al­though she loves New Zealand, Ste­fa­nia said she would prob­a­bly end up in the United States if she wanted to con­tinue act­ing.

She wants to study at an Amer­i­can univer­sity and has big plans for travel.

‘‘Af­ter school I want to go to Europe and travel.

‘‘I’ve found my buddy and ev­ery­thing.’’

Diaries’

The Car­rie

Photo: RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

Ris­ing star: The Car­rie Diaries’ Dor­rit, ac­tress Ste­fa­nia Owen, lives her life be­tween New York and her Pau­ata­hanui home.

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