Meet Dianne Miranda, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) student

BFA (Acting) student Dianne Miranda. Film Still.
BFA (Acting) student Dianne Miranda. Film Still.

Dianne Miranda auditioned for three different programs at the University of Melbourne – but since starting her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) course, she hasn't looked back. Dianne offers us an insight into her life as an aspiring actor and creative in Melbourne.

Hi Dianne. What attracted you to study acting? Tell me about the pathway you took to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. I am fortunate to be the first cohort to experience the theatre degree in it’s specialised stream of acting. I love the stage and the process of theatre-making, however being in front of a camera and learning the techniques and elements of acting on screen is what attracted me to the course. My appreciation for international and home-grown film and TV has immensely grown throughout my journey as a student here at the faculty.
I started performing in singing and studied dance which lead me to realise that I could perform in Music Theatre. I knew I had to throw myself into an acting class to reach this dream. I participated in some short-term acting courses and audition workshops, and auditioned 3 years in a row for different disciplines within the university. After years of persistence and hard work, I landed callbacks for the Bachelor of Acting course, and am now 1 of 18 to graduate within Company 2020.

Who has been of particular influence on your study at the Faculty? Budi Miller, senior lecturer and Head of Acting at the VCA has been an amazing mentor. Budi’s curriculum is built and designed for the actor, the clown, the soul, and the artist within all of us willing to work hard to sustain a successful career in the arts. He has given us the tools to work with to make us autonomous actors, and the creative license to play, daydream, fly, fall, and most importantly to take up space with grace.

Has your experience as a student here been as you expected it to be?  How would you describe a typical day? The First year of the BFA (Acting) is about foundational work and fine-tuning your body and voice and connection to text. This grounding training I received in my first year gave me the ignition I needed to become show ready in 2nd Year. My 2nd year of training became more specialized for acting on the stage and also included an introduction to screen filming. Days typically started at 9am with training, and then we would go off to a selection of classes such as Voice, Movement, Dance, Voice Over. After lunch, we would run rehearsals in our designated ensemble groups until 6pm. It was a jam-packed kind of day!

Dianne Miranda throwing confetti. Film Still courtesy of Gather Content.

What do you enjoy most about your study?
I love the rehearsal process and then performing a season of our shows. A highlight so far is my being cast in the role of Nina in American playwright Mike Posner’s play, ‘Snore’. We got the chance to work with guest director John Kachoyan, directing us with the industry experience we anticipate to gain after graduation. I deeply connected and cherished every moment of playing and living in the shoes of Nina.

Have you found any opportunities to collaborate? Can you tell us about those?
We collaborated with the Film & Television students to create a speedy project called Fast Films.  This entailed working with screen writers, directors, and theatre-makers to create a short film within the span of 3 days, all with the use of our smart phones.

Does your course include any opportunities to travel overseas? Have you had any international experiences that you would like to share – including any interesting people you met, places you visited or collaborations you undertook in your field of study. Budi Miller embedded a Bali Atelier Program into the commencement of our third year of acting training. Visiting Indonesia and the home of I Wayan Dibia at Geria Olah Kreativitas Seni (GEOKS Art Space) for an intensive training course was a special turning point in my studies. It encouraged me to learn more about myself as an artist, to be open and vulnerable in my work. We learned how to stay in the formation of a Balinese dancer, Kecak chanting, to explore and play through Per Brahe’s mask work, mindfulness and listening through participating in Gamalen Orchestra rehearsal and performance, and most importantly, I developed a deep sense of reflection and connection to my process as a working actor.
This Balinese training highly influences my work and how I can combine it with the Western methods of acting and enrich my craft even further.

Tell me about what inspires you and your work/creative practice? What are the challenges? How are you supported to overcome any challenges? Movement is the essence of my creative practice. Originating from dance, I use my body to express stories and a means to connect to the audience. Challenges that come with this is clarity and finding the fine line between over-expressing with the body or worrying that you’re not expressing enough. The camera picks everything up from your arms flailing to the slightest twitch of your eyebrow. Having another person to rehearse with or share a scene with to bounce off is very useful. You can discover how you’re affecting them through your intentions and learning to live within the given circumstances of the character is an effective part of the creative process and helps overcome this challenge.

Kecak flashmob at Arts Centre Melbourne. Photo courtesy of Mark Gambino.
What are your goals for the next few years? I want to freelance and have a taste of the Australian theatre and dance industries. I also want to create dance theatre pieces and choreograph for on-set films and TV. I want to utilize the skills that I’ve gained at the VCA in addition to my existing skill-set to sustain a fruitful career in the arts.

What do you enjoy to do when you’re not studying? Eating tacos on Sundays. And researching about Chow Chow dogs (fingers crossed that it will be my post graduation present!)

What advice would you give to prospective students who want to pursue a career in your field? Show up, work hard and don’t be afraid to clown around!

When people talk about a “career”, there is often the implication that a person is limited to doing one thing. What do you think a “career” for a creative looks like? A career in the arts is always going to be fluid, collaborative, immersive and definitely not a straight path. It’s not a 9-5 job, which is what is so exciting about it. Every job and project is unique and comes with its own colours, just like all walks of life you’ll come across in this creative world. You won’t just be an actor, you’ll be a director, a producer, a dramaturg, a writer, a choreographer, a camera man, a lighting technician, a sound engineer, a graphic designer, a practitioner of your profession. It’s all intertwined and your list of talents and skills will organically grow as you immerse yourself in the field.

Have you taken any breadth subjects? Did any of your breadth subject choices push you outside of your comfort zone? What’s something surprising you’ve learned through taking breadth? Do you incorporate those knowledges into your work in any way? I enrolled in the breadth subject The Wellbeing Orchestra in 1st Year, and Screen Printing in my 2nd Year of studies at the VCA. The Wellbeing Orchestra was a peaceful safe space to gather with other students from all over the university, and I will always look back on it with fond memories as it was such a tranquil environment, and it helped me to deal with the anxiety and pressure that acting often entails. Screen printing was a very hands-on subject and I learnt so much about how to artistically express myself through paint and colours, in addition to the techniques of screen printing and the history behind the long-standing platform of advertising.
My lecturers encourage actors to get out beyond acting and choose breadth subjects that will open our insight to other forms of studies and acquire a new level of knowledge that will serve us as artists.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) on study.