In this edition:
- Nahji Chu is changing the way we eat, and the way we think about refugees, one rice paper roll at a time.
- Meet Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler.
- Jane Rocca looks at what's in store for children's fashion this summer.
There is much truth in the story suggested by this image. Lazzaro is a girl curiously out of time and in a quieter, more focused place than most in her generation. A wider pan of this picture would include her pile of things: her glasses case and a battered copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
She is the only 17-year-old Ive ever heard refer to the most popular social media platform on the planet as the Facebook. I dont have a Facebook, or know how to use any of that, Lazzaro says, sounding like my grandfather, who is 91. I quite enjoy looking at my brothers page to see what my cousins are up to but Im a vicarious Facebooker, I dont want my own one.
Ive never really been a teenager, she continues. At my age, its almost like you have to be this full-on party type. Not everybodys into that. Some people are adults when theyre born, some are children when theyre old and some are a bit of both. Im pretty sure everybody thinks Im about 10 or 11 anyway because of the roles Ive played.
Theres an interesting irony about child actors. Everybody sees them as permanently young in their minds, while in reality they have grown up on TV and movie sets with adults and often feel theyve skipped their own childhood. Lazzaro, whose first role was on Blue Heelers when she was seven, fits the child-actor profile, but there is no tears or nostalgia for something lost.
Ive always been better at socialising with adults than with people my own age, Lazzaro, the eldest of five kids, says. Her heroes are a mix of both. On the one hand Julianne Moore, the consummate actors actor, is named, but so is 22-year-old Australian Mia Wasikowska, whose worryingly perfect performance in season one of HBO series In Treatment reset the bar for Lazzaro. I loved her in Gus Van Sants Restless too. She sticks out for me as remarkable: really, truly remarkable.
In Treatment stars Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, who Lazarro coincidentally worked with in Jindabyne. If only shed known at the time. I was on set with so many amazing actors like Gabriel, Laura Linney, but being nine, I didnt know who any of them were!
Lazzaros urge to be under lights was in-built. Rather than pushing her towards show business, her not at all artsy parents initially felt ambivalent about her career choice but have come around and realised its my thing, it works for me and the person I am. Sometimes Im a little bit too driven.
This uncommon mix of talent and tenacity is probably why Lazzaro is being touted as a star. Reporter Renee Brack describes Lazzaro as incredible, and prefaces an online interview by warning set your faces to stunned. Asked bluntly if Lazzaro aims to make a career in film, she says, after waiting a beat, Yes. Yes I do.
I was afraid to say that I wanted to work in the film industry because its so competitive and its not the kind of career where you get a job, and then get rehired, Lazzaro says, admitting that her flair for debating seemed to point in the opposite direction to law. But her role as troubled teen Gigi Kovac on the Showcase Networks Tangle, a series about blended families and how they can twist you into knots, gave her the confidence to believe in herself. The people I work with on Tangle are inspiring. From Justine Clarke (Love My Way), to Blake Davis (The Slap) and Kat Stewart (Underbelly), I have mentors all around me.
Her acting is likely to come to your attention first, after shes finished year 12, that is, but her filmmaking is worth looking out for. Last year, at 16, she wrote and directed a short film about miscarriage called Alices Baby. Its a heavy, poignant and patient first effort that was a finalist at Tropfest 2012.
[Miscarriage is] a subject that many people have experienced but thats not often discussed. The film was the first thing Id ever done, so having that kind of success really early in the piece was pretty exciting. Lazarro was not only the youngest ever filmmaker to make the finals, she was the youngest director too.
When it comes to TV, Lazzaro is a fan of local produce she mentions world-class series The Slap and her own three-season Showcase staple Tangle again and the format in general.
Theres some really exciting television coming from Australia, she says. Everybody should be excited about whats coming up in the next 10 or 15 years because I think it looks hopeful at the moment, definitely.Watch » The series of Tangle is available on DVD.