MUD sat down with the "ITCH" star to discuss her role as Jack, LGBTQIA+ representation, and her rise in the fashion world.
Melanie’s talent shines all the way from Western Australia, where she loves to surround herself with the turquoise beaches and rich bushland. At home, she has also created a fundamental network of people, or as she prefers to call them, her everlasting tribe.
Getting the chance to know more about Melanie has taught me one thing: she truly does it all. She is not just an actress, but also a fashion icon in the making. Through her education and professional experience, fashion has become another way for her artistic self to shine. While her focus may be on the modern day country man, her work has also been modeled by women on the runway.
"I constantly find myself interested in how clothing shapes the body and is an expression of one's artistic self. I love how the choice of fabric can evoke a feeling - a sense of ‘mood’ and how it can alter the structure of the human body, or even alter the space around the body," Melanie told Mud.
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Melanie had the opportunity to connect even closer to her role on "Itch." In the show, she plays Jack, a non-binary character who matches Melanie's adventurous personality.
"When I first auditioned for “JACK” in Itch, I was thankful that they were a non-binary character as I felt it gave a voice to a community that can be under-represented, particularly in children's TV," Melanie said.
Melanie's identity not only deepens her connection to the role she is playing, but also allows her own voice to shine through. Through this role, she seeks to be an advocate for change to create a more accepting world for the LGBTQIA+ community.
As we anxiously continue to wait for the second season of Itch to come out, Melanie gave us a sneak peek into various aspects of her life. We learned that if there is ever a movie based on her life, she wants Shailene Woodley to play her. And that her secret talent is so secret that she has not even found it yet! Using the time to focus on exciting fashion projects, Melanie continues to prove to us that she indeed can do it all. I was so excited to catch up with her on what's her go to snack, playing Jack, and so much more.
K: You’re from WA. What’s the first thing we should know about growing up and acting in Australia?
M: I sure am! I was born in Chile and moved to WA when I was two. I wouldn't wish to have grown up anywhere else. Perth is a small city surrounded by the most beautiful turquoise beaches and rich bushland. It is quiet and I believe growing up here has taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with nature and creating a fundamental network of people who are your everlasting tribe! Acting in Australia has given me the ability to explore parts of my own country I otherwise probably wouldn’t visit, so in a way I feel like I am a tourist in my own state when I am shooting. We are always looking so far away and sometimes the greatest beauties can be discovered in your own backyard.
K: What interests you most in fashion? Are you currently working on any fashion-focused projects?
M: I constantly find myself interested in how clothing shapes the body and is an expression of one's artistic self. I love how the choice of fabric can evoke a feeling - a sense of ‘mood’ and how it can alter the structure of the human body, or even alter the space around the body.
I have been focusing on the modern day country man, and what it means to intertwine this man into the traditional suit structures. These suits are inspired by the terrain of desert to the peaks and curves of glaciers. As a designer I am interested in how these deconstructed suits can be genderless and in my latest runway show, my suits were showcased by woman. You can watch my fashion space @melaniewozniakcreative.
K: As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, how do you use your youth platform to advocate for more inclusion in the industry? Is there any advice you’d give to aspiring young actors who are also part of the community?
M: The main piece of advice I would give to other aspiring young actors is the reminder that the LGBTQIA+ community is one of the most, if not, the most inclusive community in the world with the A standing for ‘ALLY’. I believe everyone should be a member of this community, so identifying with this community is simply identifying that you are open minded and supportive to all. It’s so great to see how more and more people have fought for LGBT rights over the years and I hope this continues to grow and this should give comfort to those who are finding it difficult to come out in the industry. Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community as an ally helps with empathy not only within myself, but also for others around me. I have always felt that supporting individuals to be confident in their sexuality regardless of orientation will help close the gap of such exclusion that still exists.
As an advocate for equal rights, and having friends who identify as LGBT, my critical thought process has enhanced and I have found myself becoming more aware of the impact that this community has on pop culture. The most important piece of advice I have is empowering yourself to take an active role in creating a more accepting world by countering prejudice and discrimination with understanding, support and care. Change can be really hard to accept but I feel the youth of 2020 are admirably supporting the community to be recognized. One of my favourite stories being Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie holding off on their marriage until 2014 when California passed the laws allowing gay marriage. When I first auditioned for “JACK” in ITCH, I was thankful that they were a non-binary character as I felt it gave a voice to a community that is under-represented, particularly in children's TV.
K: What does it mean to be young in the world today?
M: We have power, we have control, and we’re not afraid to go out and take what is ours! I feel inspired by the youth around me, and I believe we can be vocal and hungry for change. Thinking out of the box is the new cool and we are truly taking over the world.
K: Your character, Jack, is always up for an adventure. What would you say has been the biggest adventure of your life so far?
M: My biggest adventure so far was my trip to Alaska where I spent a few days experiencing the wilderness and glacier landscape. I was lucky enough to witness a glacier carving! This is actually where my inspiration for ‘WOVEN INTO THE GREY-SCAPE’ suit was inspired from.
K: Jack is a brown belt in Martial Arts. How was training for the role like?
M: It was so much fun! I love to be challenged physically so it was exciting to jump into the deep end. I had already dipped my toe in tae kwon do as I got to the last round in casting for the TV series ‘Power Rangers’. For this I trained every second day in gymnastics and tae kwon do with a private coach to the lead up of my final audition. Unfortunately I didn’t get the role but I learnt so much from the experience and that training definitely helped with my fight sequences on the set of ITCH.
K: What is the biggest takeaway from working on the show? What are you looking forward to in season 2?
M: Definitely seeing the mechanics behind such a big production and how they operated that everyday. Until you are working on a set like this, you just don't realise the amount of people involved! I was grateful to have seen this up close as ITCH was my first large-scale production I’ve been a part of. I’m looking forward to seeing this crew and cast again for season 2! You really become a family, and I cannot wait to work with them all again!
Melanie Wozniak appeared on our ninth issue "from gucci to goodwill." You can read and buy the issue here.
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Photography: LeAnn Oliver https://www.leannoliver.com/