Australian actor Olivia Deeble talks openly about her upcoming role in the Disney+ movie Secret Society of Second Born Royals, overcoming rejection, and staying grounded.
At 18-years old and with almost a quarter of a million followers on Instagram, Olivia Deeble speaks with a maturity far surpassing her young years. But this should come as no surprise. After three years working “60 hours a week some weeks” and “filming 12 scenes a day” on the iconic Australian soap, Home and Away, playing the character Raffy Morrison, it’s no wonder that Olivia’s head is so screwed on. Regarding it as “the most incredible learning ground”, the fast-paced nature of the show armed Olivia with a profound understanding of character development: “It kind of showed me the true appreciation of having to work really hard on your characters and going on a journey with them and putting your truth into that character,” she said. On top of this, the show that launched stars such as Kylie Minogue and Margot Robbie also gave Olivia a deep appreciation for her fellow cast and crew: “It becomes such a close-knit family.”
Whilst Olivia may have become a well-known face Down Under thanks to her time on Home and Away, her next role is set to make her go stratospheric. Dropping on 25th September, Olivia will play a leading role in the Disney+ movie, The Secret Society of Second Born Royals.
In the film, Olivia plays Roxana, a princess and social media influencer sent to summer school with a bunch of other young royals. But, this is not just any summer school for rich kids. Here, they discover their secret superpowers. An interesting juxtaposition develops for Roxana – who loves to be seen – as she learns she has the power of invisibility. As a young star with a beady-eyed social media following, there were parts of Roxana’s character that resonated with Olivia. “I brought that vulnerability of being judged in the public eye. That can be very difficult when you’re trying to navigate who you are as a young person,” she revealed.
From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem that Olivia Deeble has lived a life of success, but behind the scenes, she’s had to deal with rejection just like every other working actor. But it’s Olivia’s approach to the knockbacks that is so heartwarming. When she was young and reeling from the loss of a gig she really wanted, her mother – wise from years of acting herself – instilled within her a strong sense of realism. “She just told me – how lucky is that other girl? You need to be so happy for her and see that something better is going to come along. Since then, going for incredible roles in films and seeing them being made, I see that yeah, I wasn’t the right choice for that. And that’s okay.”
Chattting over Zoom, all cosy in her PJs in the darkness of her room, Olivia Deeble speaks honestly, warmly and completely openly about growing up on TV, her techniques for staying grounded in a tough industry, self-love, and hopes for the future. Dive in!
You came from quite a creative family; your mother and grandparents are actors. Did you catch the acting bug from a young age? Did you see what they were doing and think, I really want to get into that, it looks like a lot of fun?
I like the way you handled that question because the biggest thing for my family was that it was never enforced upon me. A lot of it just came from me being surrounded by them. So I would be constantly at shows and that’s when kind of my love for it stemmed or ignited. My Mum didn’t let me get an agent till I was like 10 or 11 because she really wanted to make sure that it’s something that I was passionate about. So in the sense, absolutely, I was surrounded by it and then fell in love with it. I was never told to do it. At all.
Yeah, I think it’s a misconception that actors with families in the industry push them into it.
It certainly helped me because I was grounded. And I knew so much about professional work at such an early age. But my siblings don’t want to act, and hey’ve had to deal with having a sister who works. My parents have been so fantastic in that sense, to just fully support whatever I wanted to do. Acting is my life, but if I just decided that I wanted to be a lawyer or something, they would then fully support that. Hypothetically, this is still the beginning of my journey and just having them hold me is wonderful.
Yeah, I can imagine it must be so nice to have that kind of support network and that wealth of experience coming from them because the industry is tough. You’ve spoken in the past about dealing with rejection. Has that gotten easier over time as you’ve gotten older and have more experience in the industry?
I remember there was this one role. Do you remember H2O: Just Add Water? So I auditioned to be one of the kid mermaids and I was 9 or 10. It was my first audition that I’d ever gotten a callback for. It’s down to me and one other girl. I remember I didn’t get it and my Mum took me out to lunch. I was devastated; I wanted to be a mermaid. She just told me at that point, how lucky is that other girl? You need to be so happy for her and see that something better is going to come along. Since then, going for incredible roles on films and seeing them being made, I see that yeah, I wasn’t the right choice for that. And that’s okay. I always now handle rejection really well, because, at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily even up to your skills. Most of the time, it’ll be about hair colour or something else. So I always have this mentality that until I have contracts signed, or I’m there filming, you don’t have the job. We’re in this world of fairies, right? And you’ve got people telling us how incredible we are and how talented we are and how we’ve practically got it! You’ve got it in the bag! You don’t! Until you start filming. I think that really centres me and makes me appreciate my work so much more. It doesn’t necessarily fill it with a lot of false hope. It’s important to me that it’s realistic. I just think – it’s an audition. You would love this job. It’d be fantastic if you got it. If not, that’s okay. You move on, you go to the next job. I really do have the mentality that unless you booked it, you don’t have the job.
Yeah, that’s a really good, grounded mentality. You should just be happy for that person. Especially with women as well, we need to lift each other up as much as possible.
Especially in Australia, because it’s such a small acting pool. When I was younger, it was just me and this one other girl, and it would always be us and maybe one other person, but we would always be the final two. And you just get familiar with them. I think back on a lot of auditions that I haven’t gotten, but I wouldn’t have been able to do Home and Away or I wouldn’t have been able to Disney. If I had gotten that one, where would I be? I wouldn’t be the kind of person I am today.
I was gonna ask you about ‘Home and Away’ because obviously it’s an iconic show. What was that experience like?
So I did most of my fundamental growing on that show. It was the most incredible learning ground that I think any actor can ever ask for because you’re working like 60 hours a week some weeks. And I would be filming 12 scenes a day, and you would get changes the day of the scene so you would have to learn the lines. I had to constantly be on the ball. I got so good at understanding my character and character development because I went on a three-year journey with my character. I didn’t enjoy character development a lot, because I’m dyslexic, and I’m not very good at my time management. So having to work on characters, I always found a bit difficult sometimes, but because of the show, it kind of showed me the true appreciation of having to work really hard on your characters and going on a journey with them and putting your truth into that character. And also an appreciation for the crew. Like, yes, I would have to get up at 5am and maybe finish at 7pm but they’d be getting up at 3am and finishing at 9pm. And they’re setting up sets. It becomes such a close-knit family.
I just I learned so much on that show. I learned how to boom. I understood lighting direction and quick changes. And I again like I said, if I had gotten another role, I couldn’t have had that fundamental learning which allows me to have the stamina that I have as an actor. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
You’re starring in the upcoming Disney + movie Secret Society of Second Born Royals as Roxana. The title alone makes me want to watch it! Tell me about the story and the experience of filming that.
The Secret Society of Second Born Royals is about five kids who go to summer school and they realise that they have superpowers. So it’s about them navigating their superpowers and then overcoming problems that they have to face. But in addition to that, it’s also about five kids who have to go to summer school and how much that sucks.
When I read the script, I just went oh my gosh, [Roxana] has to be a posh English girl. I’m interested to see what English viewers think of my accent because I’m a little bit nervous about that. She’s a social media influencer and she loves herself [but] her power is invisibility so her whole journey is about self-love and understanding the importance of both working as a team and recognising that beauty is in everything.
I was so happy that I got to be in this movie which features so much diversity and is a modern spin on princes and princesses and royalty, which is fantastic. There were so many fantastic messages woven within the script that I loved initially and then when it was shot, I thought was panned out beautifully.
It sounds like there’s gonna be a really interesting character arc there. The fact that Roxana is an influencer, the whole thing is about exposure and being seen – but her power is invisibility. It will be interesting to see how she comes to grips with that and how she uses it.
I think what was great was the movie didn’t shy away from that either. With all of the characters, their powers either play for them or play against them. We go on a journey with our character and with their powers. When I’m watching something, I’m craving to have something that I can identify with and that I can see myself in… and obviously, in the sense of royalty and superpowers that’s a little bit more difficult, but with our base as characters and as people and the general things that we have to go overcome, I identify with my character a lot in a lot of ways.
Was there anything you wanted to change about your character Roxana?
So when I initially read the script, she was meant to be American. And as my grandfather is a vaudevillian, slapstick comic, I thought it would be really funny to accentuate these ironic characteristics that we see in a lot of people. I didn’t want to make it too real because that makes me feel uncomfortable. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we feel like we have to be this insane persona that we not necessarily are because of what we’re constantly being pushed on social media?
I also wanted to show off my accents because as an Australian actor, you have to have accents. I have to be able to do a textbook perfect Californian and English accent to work. So when reading the script, I think I made those initial changes. And maybe that’s what got me in the room, because I made certain changes and decisions that interested them. And of myself, I brought that vulnerability of being judged in the public eye. That can be very difficult when you’re trying to navigate who you are as a young person. But I think we’re very different. I think a lot of our views aren’t the same. However, sometimes I feel crap about myself because of what people say or maybe I shouldn’t be expressing myself in that way, or maybe they’re right, maybe I’m not funny, I’m not posting what I should be. And I think [Roxana] really projects that and constantly wants people to like her. And I definitely think that I want people to like me a lot of the time. The beauty of being an actor is that you can bring truth to your story. This is why I love my job so much – I am able to give a character life and tell their story and add my own truth. I give a little bit of myself away every time I play a character. I look back at all these little characters that I’ve given myself to, and that’s so beautiful, and so heartwarming because they’re so different. And yet all of them are a little bit me. So I think with any role, I tried to give it some sense of truth, and I guess this one was the discovery of self-worth and self-love, which I think everyone needs to go on.
Looking to the future, are there any roles that you’d love to play?
I want to do more Shakespeare. I want to go and study at this university in Paris [to study] a form of clownism to acknowledge the ugly side of myself. So it’s a lot of mask work and bodywork. And I think that’s imperative for me as an actor because a lot of casting calls that you go to a purely based off your features and if they fit that specific box that they’d like you to go in. And a lot of the time – I think especially I found this in Home and Away – I would be double-checking myself to see if I looked good. And as soon as you start to do that you bar yourself from becoming an actor because you’re no longer telling the truth. When someone’s checking themselves out whilst having a conversation to you, they’re not actually in it. You can do the same in acting if you’re constantly aware of how you look, you’re not actually embodying your character. And that’s something that I want to study more because I want to grow in that aspect.
I want to tell stories, I guess. I don’t have a specific role that I would like to play. I read so many books that I’m like, oh my god, I would love to be in that. But I also want to do the book justice – I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to play that role, even though I’m so connected to it. Anytime I get a script that I really, really resonate with, I will try and manifest and work really hard to get it.
There’s a lot of training I want to do to get to places where I can make acquisitions where I’m like, I want to be in that movie, get it for me. But you know, I’m not at that place yet. It’s a lot more self-growth to be the kind of actress and person I want to be, and then portraying those roles to the best of my abilities and telling those people’s stories the best that I can, opposed to specific ones that I want to play.
You’ve said you want to do more stage performances…
I did some Shakespeare whilst I was on Home and Away. I did Henry the Fifth and Joan of Arc – in French. So that was a fantastic opportunity, I really loved that. And I want to do a lot more play work as I love the thrill of you only being able to do it a certain amount of times. You having to completely give it your all every single time because you don’t have another take.
The feeling I get on stage is so different from the one that I get on screen, but yet equally, so stimulating and so fantastic. Like it’s indescribable on both fields, but yet so different. And I want I really want to explore that more.