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Five Questions with Tasia Zalar

19 August 2021

Tasia Zalar in the Australian feature Streamline directed by Tyson Wade Johnson.

Tasia Zalar is a Gunggandji, Kaurareg, Gugu Thaypan, Mualgal, Gumulgal, Wuthathi actress, who stars as Patti Hill in the upcoming sports drama Streamline, directed by Tyson Wade Johnson and co-executive-produced by Ian Thorpe. Zalar has performed in award winning Mystery Road (2018), The Straits (2012) and Wyrmwood: Apocalypse (2022).

1. What was it like playing Patti Hill compared to your previous roles?

It felt like I was playing a younger version of myself but with more life experience. After I read the script I knew I could do it because in the context of the story, Patti is mature, grounded, level-headed and has an ability to see the bigger picture. To even participate in competitive swimming as a child puts you into a middle-class socio-economic bracket, that’s something that’s separated this role from previous roles. It was incredibly refreshing to be an expression of the environment created without any disadvantages. So with all that in mind I knew how to play Patti Hill. Also, the Director, Tyson, was pretty adamant in having me play this role and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote the script with all the actors in mind.

I joined the Broome Recreation and Aquatic Centre while I was filming Season Two of Mystery Road, a couple of months leading up to filming Streamline. So I was doing laps there on my days off and thankfully a friendly lifeguard/swimming instructor, Ricinda Cook, gave me some free tips and encouraged me. I really went out of my comfort zone because competitive swimming is a new world for me and I would like to revisit and learn more.

2. While filming Streamline, what sort of interesting competitive swimming facts did you learn?

The most important lesson I’ve learnt from competitive swimming is how important breath is, being in a state of relaxation and of course, technique is vital but that’s just scratching the surface as you’ll see in this story – you could be talented and possess perfect physicality but you are susceptible to becoming a lost empty vessel, as the body is as equally as important as the mental and spiritual ‘self’.

I’m confident in acting out my warm-up before actually jumping into the pool. Onset I learnt from some of the young and talented swimmers how to do that, though I never got to showcase this newly acquired skill. Quite a few swimmers mentioned that if you wear swimming goggles that are reflective and you can’t see your eyes then you mean serious business, apparently.

3. What was it like being nominated for the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Popular New Talent at the 2019 TV Week Logie Awards for Mystery Road?

It was a great nod from the industry that I didn’t expect. What mattered to me was the series as a collective being a success rather than my individual effort. I was extremely happy for everyone involved because it had been so greatly embraced by so many viewers.

4. What was it like working with Judy Davis and Aaron Pederson in the ABC miniseries Mystery Road?

Aaron is super easy-going and Judy is cool. At one point, Judy showed me some of her acting notes. It was like three minutes but I’ll never forget that. They’ve both made Season One of Mystery Road the highlight of my career so far, as well as the combination of Director, Rachel Perkins. There’s an ‘innerstanding’ there and that’s when I’ve been able to get my best acting results.

5. You’re also a musician/ music producer. Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Music is another element of expression for me. It has always been there, in the background. I always think about it and I know the musical creative abundance I have within will come to fruition one day very soon. In saying that, I equally love visual arts and colours inspire me on another level so as long as I have my own creative artistic outlet then I’m good.

Streamline is a coming of age tale that follows a 15 year old prodigy swimmer with the world at his feet – when his father shows up unannounced he must confront his demons and overcome obstacles. Streamline will have its World Premiere at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival and close CinefestOZ Film Festival – coming to Australian cinemas September 2.