Demitra Sealy is a young Greek Australian in the midst of pursuing her performance dreams. A talented singer and actor with many years of experience under her belt, she was recently accepted into the renowned Actors Studio Master’s Degree program in New York City.
Young, ambitious and deeply committed to her craft, Demitra has been involved in multiple projects, from presenting on Meraki TV, teaching singing lessons, as well as performing in jazz and piano bars, and appearing in various film roles including First World Relationships, for which she was nominated for Best Actress in the Austin Comedy Festival. GCT recently had a chat to Demitra about her career aspirations, her love of her Greek heritage, and her passion for performance.
Where were you born and raised and where do you live now?
I was born in Auckland, New Zealand but moved to Sydney, Australia when I was 5 years old.
What part of Greece is your family from?
We’re from a little mountain town just outside of Sparta called Melitini.
Have you been to Greece?
Yes, I grew up travelling to Greece. I’ve always felt very connected with my culture and that is partly because of how exposed I was to its homeland and history. As an adult, I adore Greek stories and the myths and legends. This, I believe, is wholly due to me being exposed to them so early on through traveling to Greece.
How did your journey into singing begin?
I started singing when I was just 7 years old. I started with the Australian Youth Choir and was awarded with them the Margaret Nibsett Scholarship at age 9. Since then I’ve never stopped singing. I teach it now (which is so wonderful!) and sing at small Jazz and piano bars around Sydney but I predominantly use it as a skill in my acting portfolio. I’d love to do a TV/film musical. That looks like a complete blast! Very Glee-ful.
Were you equally interested in acting, or did that come later?
When I was about to graduate high school I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I took some time and looked at myself and realised, though I’d never pursued it previously, that what I wanted to do was be an actor- or at least give it a go- and really I’ve never looked back. I dedicate 100% of my time to it. I think that’s what your twenties are for: discovering who you are and trying new things.
Tell us about your acting experiences?
I started my career as a theatre actor- I’ve always loved the theatre, especially classic plays. I studied a Bachelor of Performance at the Australian Institute of Music’s program the Australian Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2014 and have has since trained with Playwriting Australia, The Bell Shakespeare Company Graduates Program, The Actors Centre and more.
After a few year in the industry though, I decided my passion was in screen acting. I’ve now been in films that have been viewed all around the world. This year I was named ‘Actress of the Year for 2016' by Starcentral Magazine and nominated for ‘Best Actress’ for the series FIRST WORLD RELATIONSHIPS in the Austin Comedy Festival in the USA.
Tell us about your involvement with Meraki TV?
I have been with Meraki TV since 2015 and started as a presenter on Season 2. I interview passionate Greek Australians in the performing and visual arts industries and for season 4 this year I am starting as the host of a new ‘What’s on in Sydney’ sector. The show is really fun, accessible and unique. I love working with them, Foxtel and the Aurora channel.
What has been a career highlight for you so far?
I toured Australia for a year with activist Theatre Group Kinetic Energy Theatre Company. We visited high schools and Indigenous reserves performing shows about Indigenous rights, the history of the Freedom Rides and homelessness awareness. It was just really rewarding work. We were educating and spreading such a beautiful message. The opportunity to work so consistently for a year on my acting was also completely invaluable, helping me to improve in strides.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
The acting industry, especially in Australia, is a hard nut to crack. We have such little money here for the arts that producers are less inclined to risk big roles on new talent. Producers want the tried and true actors whose quality has been assured. That is why you see the same faces over and over again on Australian TV. There is also the strange recent phenomenon of the 'social media actor'. Producers are looking for people, not necessarily actors, with an established following on social media for roles. I’ve been chosen then lost roles because of this. The idea is that they come with their own built in audience and are thus more appealing and monetarily safe. The thought that that is held in higher value then actual skill of performance is a hurdle that is still ludicrous to me. I guess I should tell more people to like my Instagram, haha!
What is in store for you this year?
This year I’m moving to New York City! I have been accepted into the Actors Studio Master’s Degree program in NYC on scholarship. I’m terrified and excited. I don’t know anyone in New York so it will definitely be an adventure- whether good or bad we are yet to see! I plan to reach out to the Greek community in NYC while I’m there, to stay close to my roots and gain some new friends.
Where would you like to be in the next 5 years career-wise?
Ideally, I would be on Broadway every other week performing the world’s greatest plays when I’m not filming killer blockbusters, my own hit show and award winning TV. Hey, they say dream big! I know, as a minimum, I would definitely like to have broken into the overseas market with a couple of juicy roles under my belt. I adore screen acting so that is where I see my career.
Which people have influenced you the most?
I definitely have actors whose careers I admire, but influence-wise honestly I’m not too sure. My mum has always influenced me to be true to who I am and to not care about other people’s opinions of me. Although that was a lesson that took me a while to learn, now I have, it has been invaluable in keeping sanity in my career. Otherwise, I think I’m slightly influenced by everyone. I’m a big risk taker and I learn from absolutely everyone around me. Sometimes I find wisdom in the oddest places.
What has been one piece of advice that has stayed with you?
Hold on tightly, let go lightly.
What is your favourite Greek food?
I’ve got such a sweet tooth for Greek treats but loukoumades hold a special place in my heart!