The Team

Meet Our Team: Sally McLean

As part of our launch for our new series of programs we will be offering at Montsalvat over 2024, we are running a quick-fire question interview with members of our team, so you can get to know them a bit better.

Sally McLean

Incognita Enterprises’ Creative Director, Sally McLean has been working in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. Starting out as an actor, she has added writer, director, producer, teacher and production crew credits to her extensive CV – working on both stage and screen.

Q. How did you become involved in the Performing Arts?

A. I was one of those kids who knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an actor. When I was 4 years old, an Australian TV cop show filmed at my grandparents’ home, taking over their large garden and driveway. We were supposed to stay inside and out of the way of the cast and crew, but I worked out that if I lay down on the loungeroom floor, I could slightly lift up the bottom of the curtains on the large floor-to-ceiling windows and get a good look at what was going on outside without being seen. I was transfixed. Watching all that action, the cameras, the actors running about looked like enormous fun and I proceeded to walk around the house for the next 24 hours announcing that I was going to either be a policeman or an actor. Luckily, the actor won out!

Q. What has been your favourite gig so far?

A. Oh, that’s a hard one. I have been fortunate to work in a lot of productions on both stage and screen in Australia, the UK and a couple of USA productions, and each of them were fun in their own way. I think being part of the first all-female Shakespeare theatre production in the UK is definitely a highlight. One of my favourite gigs was playing IT Manager “Stacey” in Utopia, directed by Rob Sitch for the ABC. She was a hoot. Being able to direct and act alongside fabulous humans such as Nadine Garner, Michala Banas, Alan Fletcher, Dean Haglund, Scott Major and Christopher Kirby and all the Incognita team in things like Shakespeare Republic and Speaking Daggers was intensive work, but so much fun as well!

Q. How did you get into directing?

A. I began writing first. At drama school in London, we were encouraged to create our own work as actors. So I wrote and produced by first film straight out of drama school in London, which was a huge learning curve. When I came back to Melbourne, I waited a couple of years, but then began writing and directing my own short films to give myself the chance to play roles I might not have been looked at for in the wider industry. I then stepped back from doing that for over a decade, as my acting work became busier, but came back to it with my Shakespeare projects, which has continued for over 8 years now. But acting is still my first love and first priority.

Q. What is your favourite part of being an actor?

A. Being a conduit for others to experience a different perspective, way of being, way of life. I learn so much from every role I play – about myself and about my fellow humans – so learning more about the world and the people who inhabit it is also endlessly fascinating. I do love the research aspect. I’ve learnt to embrace the feeling of “I don’t know” that comes up every time I land a new role and activate my curiosity about the person, the world and all the aspects that make up this life I am about to inhabit. And I do love the sense of play that then kicks in when working with my fellow actors. There’s a magic that can happen when everyone – actors, director, producers, crew – are there authentically serving the story dreamt up by a writer and finding joy in creating that world in the process. It does involve hard work, but it can also be so much fun.

Q. What advice would you give to actors coming up in the industry now?

A. Be brave. Know that rejection is not personal – it’s part of the job. Make self-care paramount. Mental health is something that we should all take care of, no matter what industry we work in. Keep learning. Never stop learning. It can be in class, on set, on stage, doing play readings with friends – whatever. The minute we stop learning is the minute we become stagnant as performers and so stop doing our job effectively. Be curious. About the world, about the work and about yourself. And get as much sleep as you can!

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