SALLY McLEAN

An award-winning multi-hyphenate creative, Sally McLean began her work in the entertainment biz in her mid-teens and has since performed lead, guest and supporting roles in numerous Australian, US and UK film, theatre and television productions.

A graduate of The Actors Institute UK, Sally’s notable screen acting credits include the lead role of “Angie Powers” in the BAFTA Award-winning BBC miniseries Bootleg opposite Tim Robinson, lead guest role of “Stacy” in the AACTA Award-winning ABC TV series Utopia opposite Celia Pacquola and recurring guest roles of “Miss Giddens” in the AACTA Award nominated ABC/CBBC TV series The Worst Year of My Life – Again!  opposite Tiarnie Coupland and “Barb” in the cult hit USA Sony/AMC TV series, Preacher opposite Pip Torrens & Christopher Kirby.

Prior to this, she worked in production with the BBC in both their Music & Arts and Commercial Channels Depts. (now UKTV), on series such as One Foot In The Past, Bookmark, The History of British Art, Sister Wendy, Robert Hughes American Visions, Bookworm, Bard on the Box, Poems on the Box and Poetry Nation, during which time she also Chaired the BBC Alternative Program Development Unit and BBC Australian Program Development Unit, submitting several successful television program proposals to the Controllers of BBC1 & 2. Since her return to Australia, alongside her acting career, she has worked in a variety of production roles for Channel 9, Southern Cross Broadcasting, Freemantle Media and Endemol Southern Star on programs such as Big Brother, Comedy Inc., The X-Factor, Australian Idol and 1 vs 100.

Other industry activities include running the popular Acting Up at the House Drama Program at Mt Martha House, Mt Martha, being the Founding Chair and Executive Producer for North of Eight Theatre Company, the General Manager of Melbourne WebFest and being an on-air radio presenter for nearly a decade at 3RPP-FM & Mornington Peninsula Tourism Radio.

Predominantly working on screen, Sally is also an experienced dramatic Shakespearean actor with Musical Theatre roots and has played over thirty lead and supporting roles in theatre in both Australia and the UK. Highlights include roles in the West End premiere of the drama Annabel’s Requiem, what is believed to be the first all-female production of Macbeth in the UK and the professional Australian premier of the hit off-Broadway musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

She is currently the Creator/Director and lead ensemble member of the multi award-winning digital series Shakespeare Republic for which she was named the winner of the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award for Best Digital Series in the USA in 2017, which saw Sally join the ranks of fellow CINE alumni such as Steven Spielberg (the then CINE President) Oprah Winfrey, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jim Henson, Mike Nichols, Robert Altman, Spike Lee, Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Sydney Pollack, among others. Fellow award winners that year were Christian Slater’s Mr Robot, Variety’s Actors on Actors and National Geographic’s M.A.R.S. series.

In December 2021 Shakespeare Republic was named the Most Awarded Anthology Series of 2021 and listed in the Top 10 Web Series in the world (WSWC, 2021). All three seasons were invited and are now part of the official collection at the National Film And Sound Archive in Australia (NFSA) and the series was mentioned as an “Acquisition Highlight” in the NFSA Annual Report for 2019. Sally’s Shakespeare short film, Speaking Daggers (commissioned for the inaugural Arts Learning Festival by Independent Schools Victoria), which she adapted, directed and played the lead of “Beatrice”, was selected for 22 international film festivals, including the Academy Award® accredited St Kilda Film Festival – and won 3 awards on the circuit, as well as a “Highly Commended” Finalist nod from Sir Kenneth Branagh in his role as Jury President for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Shakespeare Film Festival in the UK in 2017.

Sally’s work with Shakespeare has been the subject of several academic presentations and plenary panels at Early Modern Literature and Shakespeare seminars and conferences in Australia, the UK and USA from 2016 to now. Her first published work on Shakespeare, an essay exploring her methodology behind Shakespeare Republic and Shakespeare performance in general, was published in the USA by Routledge Press in 2020 as part of the academic essay collection, Playfulness In Shakespearean Adaptations.

The third season of Shakespeare Republic has been taught at Syracuse University, USA, discussed in papers presented at the Shakespeare Association of America Conference (USA) and BritGrad Conference (UK) and is also extensively explored in the Arden Shakespeare collection, Lockdown Shakespeare: New Evolutions in Performance and Adaptation, published by Bloomsbury Press in the UK in July 2022.

Sally’s experience as a Shakespearean actor and thoughts on Shakespeare performance in the 21st Century in general was also featured in the book Shakespeare & The Actor (Oxford Press, 2022) through interviews with author Professor Emerita Lois Potter, alongside fellow actors such as Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Sir Antony Sher, among others.

Her work playing “Katherina” in The Taming of the Shrew opposite New York Public Theatre’s Shakespeare In the Park regular Miguel Perez was also featured in Innovation & Digital Theatremaking, a book dedicated to discussing new innovations in theatre published by Routledge Press in December 2023.. Sally additionally teaches Shakespeare and acting technique as an industry guest teacher at various institutions, including the Howard Fine Acting Studio Australia and the Equity Foundation.

Her next screen project, Dark Arcadia, in which she plays the role of “Hecate MacFindlay”, as well as writing and directing, is now on the international film festival circuit, made with support from Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, Creative Australia and the British Shakespeare Association.

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