A rising star on the indie scene

You may not know her name but Gemma Laurelle is one of the hardest working actors in Sydney.

A former lawyer who took up acting four years ago, this year she has worked in four indie features, two short films and three web series as well as doing voice overs for video games.

Her profile ought to rise next year when all these projects are released. “My career has exploded this year,” she tells IF. “I am keen on the action and sci-fi genres and love to see these on film and TV/web series. In my passion for film and finding more ways to contribute in the creative process, I have trained and taken on behind-the-camera roles, including assistant directing, assistant producing, writing and even catering on a few sets. I am looking to learn and take on more roles.”

Gemma worked for the DPP in Queensland before realising that “all I wanted to do in the courtroom was perform.” She quit her job and took acting classes at The Actors Workshop in Brisbane. Now based in Sydney, she plays a blood-sucker in Kiah Roache-Turner’s zombie movie Wyrmwood and a soldier in Shane Abbess’ currently shooting futuristic sci-fi thriller Infini.

In writer-director Dave Sparx’s feature The 5th Shadow, she is cast as the mother of a painter (former Home & Away actor Joel McIlroy) who embarks on a nightmarish journey.

She is heard but not seen in The Navigator, a thriller written and directed by Eddie Arya, which features Jamie Vergan as a guy whose life is turned upside-down when he goes on a family holiday. Gemma is the voice of his GPS system, a character which she says audiences can decide is good or evil.

In Adrian Castro’s Hidden Peaks, she plays a sharpshooter on a mission to help find survivors in a dangerous and evil world. She said that project was made as an online sci-fi thriller series but it could also be turned into a feature.

She will soon start work in the second chapter of director/co-writer Geoff O’Rourke’s digital action/futuristic sci-fi trilogy of short films NOVR, entitled, NOVR: Blood & Steel. The producers aim to part-fund the short by raising $10,000 from crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The plot follows an orphan girl who is born with an amazing ability that might hold the key to humanity’s survival against an unstoppable alien threat. Gemma's role is still being worked out but she will likely play a Templar.

“I happen to have a ‘strong’ look on film, and tend to be cast in roles where I command, kill or ensnare – and it’s usually as the kind of girl you would not want to take home to your mother,” she says. “Which makes it fun, because in real life I wouldn’t behave in these ways. We have social constructs and behavioural expectations (and laws!) we agree to live by, so being able to explore other sides to ourselves and others is a gift of an opportunity.

“The more I am in the acting world, the more I just have to laugh at myself and not take things so seriously. It’s a blend of therapy and continual learning, so it’s quite liberating.”