If you are a fan of ‘House Husbands’, ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries ‘ and ‘Anzac Girls’, as I am, you will instantly recognise the lovely actor – Anna McGahan. You might also know her as Nellie Cameron from ‘Underbelly ‘or Rose Andersen in ‘The Doctor Blake Mysteries’. More recently Anna was the multi- layered Miss McGraw in the six part series- ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’. SheSociety was invited to speak to Anna ahead of her season playing Charmian Clift in the Queensland Theatre production of ‘Hydra’. I spoke to this Queensland born actor with the megawatt smile at the Soleil Pool Bar – Rydges ahead of Queensland Theatre’s 2019 Season Launch.
I felt like I knew Anna McGahan after having watched her on the screen for so many years. I really had to be careful not to call her Lucy. ‘House Husbands’ is a favourite show in my home and on the day of our interview, she looked just like her character of Lucy, with her hair in Heidi braids, sporting a relaxed dark top and gorgeous floral pants.
Anna is a product of the prestigious Brisbane Girls Grammar School here in my hometown and attended two years before my oldest son arrived at the boy’s school next door. It was scary to think of the amazing career she has had at such a young age. For the record she’s thirty now and in February became a Mum to daughter Mercy. With her calm demeanour and sunny nature it is clear to see that motherhood suits her.
A Triple Threat
Anna is not only an actor. She is also an accomplished writer who has won awards for her writing, most notably receiving the Queensland Young Playwright’s Award in 2008- 2009.
She has her own blog ‘A Forbidden Room’ where she writes under her married name Anna Weir. In 2016, she was short-listed for the Saturday Paper’s national essay award, ‘The Home Prize’.
I asked Anna, “Do you prefer acting on TV, appearing on stage or writing?”
“It ebbs and flows and I feel I need that balance. It just depends on what is happening at the time. When I was pregnant I wrote and I have a book- a memoir- coming out soon. I enjoy being able to do all of those things and doing the play in Queensland will enable me to come home and have our family based here for a while.”
The play that has prompted Anna’s homecoming is Hydra. I ask her to tell me a bit about the play as I’m unfamiliar with this work.
“Ah, that’s because it’s a completely new play written by Sue Smith. It tells the story of Charmian Clift and George Johnson who flee to the Greek Island of Hydra determined to carve out a bohemian lifestyle as artists on this idyllic island. Then everything implodes.”
We are both excited by this play as I suddenly remembered reading a story about this talented pair. I also confess to Anna that I regularly re-read George Johnson’s ‘My Brother Jack’, as it has always seemed to me a quintessential Australian story, rooted in a specific period of Australian history.
We discuss, as women writers do, how difficult it must have been for Charmian to have lived in George Johnson’s shadow, being so talented in her own right.
“She was an accomplished author and she edited his work. Theirs was a volatile relationship and it was difficult for her to be overshadowed by him.”
I say to Anna that she appears to have been constantly working since her days at QUT.
“Yes, I guess I have been very lucky in my career” she laughs.
Although I get the sense that like most actors it’s more hard work than luck that sets Anna apart and also the fact that she embraces many different strands of the arts.
I know that baby Mercy is upstairs waiting for her Mum so I am conscious of not taking up too much time. That beaming smile is back when I ask how her life has changed since becoming a mother.
Anna says, “The family is very much in my mind when I choose what to do now. What is best for us as a family and best for Mercy. It will be great to be based here in Queensland for a while when I perform in Hydra.”
I am very excited to see this talented young actress and beautiful soul playing the role of another writer, Charmian Clift, on stage. I am also extremely glad Queensland Theatre has lured another of our home grown Queensland actors to come home to play and stay for a while. For a chance to see one of your favourite television stars tread the boards you’ll need to book early. ‘Hydra‘ will be the second play performed for the 2019 Queensland Theatre Season. It will play in the newly renovated Bille Brown Theatre from 9 March – 6 April. This writer simply can’t wait to see it!