Keep­ing it quirky:

800 Words star talks about her love of un­usual roles.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

Olivia Ten­net’s film and TV act­ing ca­reer spans al­most 20 years – no mean feat for some­one who is only 27 years old.

The Auck­land ac­tress, who plays lo­cal goth and surly real es­tate re­cep­tion­ist Siouxsie in 800 Words, had her start in TV at age seven when she ap­peared in a com­mer­cial.

“It was for an anti-smack­ing cam­paign where I had to throw a tantrum which Mum said I was very well prac­tised at,” says Ten­net.

From there she went on ap­pear in Xena: War­rior Princess, Lord Of The Rings: Two Tow­ers, Mad­di­gan’s Quest and Short­land Street, where she played Guy Warner’s daugh­ter Tues­day.

This year she was a jockey in the Sun­day The­atre drama Kiwi and she has a guest role in The Bro­ken­wood Mys­ter­ies.

For the past few years Ten­net has been a reg­u­lar on 800 Words, the New Zealand and Aus­tralian co-pro­duc­tion. Her char­ac­ter is named af­ter the lead singer of Bri­tish rock band Siouxsie and the Ban­shees.

800 Words’ Siouxsie is a bit of an out­sider in the show’s idyl­lic fic­tional town set­ting of Weld which is home to beach-lovers such as Woody (Rick Don­ald) and Tracey (Emma Leonard).

“I’m al­ways re­ally in­ter­ested in char­ac­ters that are a bit dif­fer­ent,” says Ten­net.

“I look back at my CV and I’m not re­ally suited to the love in­ter­est roles. I usu­ally get the quirky side-kick kind of roles. I was re­ally ex­cited when I first re­ceived the au­di­tion script.

“Siouxsie is a great char­ac­ter be­cause she says what ev­ery­body else is think­ing but is too afraid to say it. She’s pretty dif­fer­ent to my­self so that’s al­ways re­ally fun.

“I love her cos­tumes. She’s very loyal and has a lovely re­la­tion­ship with Monty, her dad.

“I would call her an ac­tivist. She def­i­nitely has re­ally strong opin­ions about things and is not afraid to ex­press those.

“I like to think I’m a lit­tle bit like that. I’m pretty cer­tain about the is­sues that are im­por­tant to me.”

Ten­net is the youngest of three sib­lings one of whom, An­ton, is an ac­tor. The brother and sis­ter ap­peared in last year’s Sun­day The­atre drama The Ex­po­nents: Why Does Love?

She says her par­ents were al­ways en­cour­ag­ing when it came to ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. At age four she be­gan tap danc­ing classes and two years later she was hav­ing vi­o­lin lessons.

“I just re­ally loved be­ing on stage. I would do danc­ing com­pe­ti­tions and Mum was like, ‘Oh she’s re­ally taken to this’,” says Ten­net.

Dance is still a big part of her life and some­thing she put to good use in the 1980s-themed Auck­land mu­si­cal Plea­sure­dome.

“You have to be as ver­sa­tile as pos­si­ble in New Zealand,” Ten­net says. “You can do all of the work that comes your way but I’m also at univer­sity study­ing speech ther­apy. “I had to make a re­ally con­scious de­ci­sion of, ‘Did I ac­tu­ally choose act­ing?’ I’ve been do­ing it for so long now that I just do it be­cause I’ve al­ways done it but I thought it might be nice to do some­thing else and use my brain in a dif­fer­ent way.” Like a lot of ac­tors, Ten­net has given Los An­ge­les a shot. She moved there with a boyfriend at age 21. “It was the first time I’d ever moved out of home,” she says. “I had never driven be­fore so I had to learn how to drive in LA which was like bap­tism by fire. I don’t know if I’m a very brave per­son but I had to do it. “I re­mem­ber the first time get­ting on to a free­way and think­ing, ‘Don’t look side­ways’ be­cause there were eight lanes. You just have to look straight ahead and keep go­ing.” Af­ter two years of Los An­ge­les life, Ten­net re­turned to New Zealand but says if the right role came along she would move back. But for now she is happy do­ing her ter­tiary stud­ies and un­der­tak­ing act­ing jobs like 800 Words. “Siouxsie comes to the fore in this sea­son,” says Ten­net. “I’ve been able to do a lot more with the char­ac­ter. She gets to hang out with Shay (Melina Vi­dler) which has meant that I’m in a lot more scenes. “You def­i­nitely feel like Siouxsie is part of Weld and in­volved in a lot of the is­sues.”

Jonny Brugh (Monty) and Olivia Ten­net (Siouxsie)

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