From the moment we met Dr. Susie in 2017, we knew she was a tour de force as an artist and a human being. She’s a real doctor, has a love of life, people and her craft. In the midst of traveling the world to help others, she never loses sight of acting and continues her training and shooting projects. She will be seen in the 2019 release of the feature film “How Do You Know Chris”. Whether it be saving lives, working on her ranch tending to her horses, camels and many, many other animals, or learning her lines, Dr. Susie remains focused on her goals. We sat down with her recently and asked her how she got her start and what keeps her going.
You are affectionately referred to as Dr. Susie, even though you came to Hollywood Immersive as an actor. But you’re a real doctor. Wait…what? How did you make the decision to come to Los Angeles to follow your acting dreams?
Yes, most people know me as Dr. Susie and I am a REAL doctor, but a very bad one…so, I have decided to stop burying my mistakes and become a REAL actor. Seriously though, I have wanted to be an actor since I was little. My parents had often been pulled aside and told “get her into the movies” or “she needs to be on the stage.” They would smile politely and completely ignore the suggestions. The TWO things I was not “allowed” to do were “be an Actor or join the Military”. Needless to say I have dabbled in both and even managed to nail down a successful medical career. The decision to go to LA to follow my dream was easy because of Hollywood Immersive. Simple as that. Can’t recommend the program enough.
Back in Australia, you live on a farm with exponentially more wildlife than humans. Can you tell us about your critters, your love for horses and camels, and how you juggle that life with your professional life as actor and doctor?
I am lucky enough to have 5 horses, 3 camels and a menagerie of other animals to play with on a regular basis. Horses and camels are my favourites. Both are in my blood. I am a direct descendant of the Australian-Irish explorer, John King who was the sole survivor of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition in 1861. My animals are intrinsically part of my life so it is never a matter of juggling things. The silent language of the equine world feeds my soul, continues to teach me life lessons, unconditional acceptance, patience and above all, hope. As my friend and mentor, Buck Brannaman says, “Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.” Camel psychology is a completely different ball game. This is especially the case with wild camels from the Outback that you are trying to domesticate. But if you earn the trust of a camel, you have a friend for life.
You wouldn’t be described as “dainty”. You don’t take <censored> from anyone, and you are a straight shooter. You also have an amazingly wicked sense of humor. You know exactly who you are and you’re unfiltered and unapologetic about it. Who or what inspired you to be the person that you are?
No, I definitely wouldn’t be described as dainty. I’m about as dainty as a Great White Shark! I am a straighter shooter when I need to be, and born without a fully functioning oral filter. However, I think it is important to be kind and I always try to make an effort to learn about what makes people tick and what you may have in common. Everyone has a story to tell and sometimes you have to make an extra effort to hear it.
A good sense of humour is a necessary weapon in life. You can dilute a lot of situations with well directed humour. It is the great leveler.
I was blessed with a loving but isolated and lonely childhood which allowed me to develop an overactive imagination. I have never lost that, despite becoming an adult. I think one of the best tools you can have as an actor is an unbridled imagination and the courage to use it. I am inspired by people and animals who never give up despite all odds. Everyday heroes. They are all around us if we just take the time to look.
You recently filmed a movie in Australia entitled “How Do You Know Chris?” Tell me about the experience of filming and what landing a role in this movie means to you.
Landing the role of “Amanda Black” in the recently filmed “How Do You Know Chris?” was made possible because of Hollywood Immersive. Lilly Dawson suggested I complete a self-tape and send it to the Director, Ash Harris. He liked what he saw and the next thing I knew, I was flying over to Melbourne for an audition. Got the role and then flew back over a few months ago for filming. My first feature film!! What an amazing opportunity. I was so honoured to be part of the project and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Wonderful cast and crew. I loved exploring the depths of my character, Amanda, and found we are quite similar in a lot of ways. This made it both easier and more challenging. I embraced the new experiences though. I am a devoted, committed and passionate actor. I will go above and beyond to better myself and further my acting career. Being in “How Do You Know Chris” has made me thirsty for more film work. I am excited about the future.
What advice would you give to older actors trying to create or continue their careers later on in life? And then, what advice would you give to young actors starting out?
The advice that I would give to older actors trying to create or continue their careers later in life is the same as I would give to young actors starting out. Don’t give up. I can guarantee it will be hard sometimes. You will need to have a good day job and grow a thick skin because you will inevitably have rejections. Have a rock solid work ethic of completing something you say you will do. Be polite to EVERYONE on set, no matter what their role is. You are part of a team. Practice good self-care, don’t ever turn up on set being hung over (something I have seen many a young actor do to the detriment of their career). Learn people’s names and always be on time. KNOW your character inside and out but don’t be married to your “version” of it because you may not have thought of all the possibilities! Have stamina and never complain if you have to shoot through the night or film in a situation that is outside your comfort zone. Being an actor can be exhausting, both physically and mentally but it is SO worth it in the end. If it wasn’t difficult, everyone would do it. That’s what makes it worth it. Always embrace the opportunity to keep learning your craft. Make bold choices and realize it is not just OK to make mistakes but necessary for growth. Be flexible, conscientious and take educated risks. Take your job seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.
You have traveled internationally for your medical work. Tasmania, Chile, Antarctica. Can you tell us about that? Do you mind that we spread the word that you are a do-gooder!
I have travelled extensively with my medical work but I wouldn’t say I’m a “do-gooder”! I just love meeting different people and immersing myself into divergent cultures. The wonderful thing about medicine is that it doesn’t matter where in the world you are from, we are all the same. I don’t care what your background is, you are my patient and that is all there is to it. I try to be non-judgemental and there is not much in the world that I haven’t seen or experienced. I often have the chance to use my medical skills on my animal companions as well. No matter where I travel to, I also seem to find a sick horse, cat or dog that needs help.
You have a great attitude and outlook on life. Certainly there must be things that get you down. How do you deal with setbacks?
Cruelty to any living thing is something I find disheartening. It always gets me down but I am never one to sit back and watch. As Albert Einstein said “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”. I can reach a whole other level of crazy when it comes to protecting those less fortunate, especially animals.
I have learnt to have a great attitude and outlook on life. I know first hand how precious life is. I embrace setbacks because they make me reassess a situation. I get up and literally or figuratively (depending on the situation) dust myself off, grit my teeth and keep going. Life ain’t a dress rehearsal. It is right NOW. Learn to think outside the box and remember, it is sometimes easier to get forgiveness than permission
What is next for Dr. Susie? More movies? Doctoring?
What’s next for me? I would give up medicine in a heartbeat to do more acting. I have given doctoring enough years. Saying that though, a lot of my acting tools come from being a Doc for so long. There is nothing more of an incentive to learn to “act like you have everything under control” during a resuscitation when all the while you know that the patient is “circling the drain” and all the family have their eyes on you. The last thing they need to see on your face is defeat. Even when you know the chance of bringing them back is slim, you must never show you have lost hope. My raw stubbornness has actually managed to save lives. There is no feeling on this earth that compares with the feeling of having been involved in saving a life. It keeps you grounded and so very aware of how privileged one is to have the capacity to help people. It is an honour I will never take for granted.
More movies are definitely on the cards. I want to work with Viggo Mortensen, who I deeply admire as a human being. He is what I would call a life artist. He is not only a brilliant actor but an accomplished poet, painter, photographer, producer, author and musician. He is also one of the most humble people you could ever meet. He is an intuitive horseman and one of his quotes always resonates with me…”One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.” Wise words.