• MUD

Thalía Dudek on Becoming a Leading Force in Film

Hailing all the way from Australia, non-binary actor Thalía Dudek has dazzled audiences with their critically acclaimed appearances in Better Man and Slant.

Hailing all the way from Australia, non-binary actor Thalía Dudek has dazzled audiences with their critically acclaimed appearances in Better Man and Slant.
Photo: Jack Dixon-Gunn

Hailing from Australia, Thalía Dudek is already leading the next generation of actors in the film and TV industry. Best known for their starring roles in LAND and IT COMES IN WAVES, Dudek has continued to impress audiences with their stellar talent. Their performances are raw, always capturing the true essence of the characters they portray and bringing the true theme of a project to life. This can be seen in their memorable starring role in High Grades, which resulted in a sold-out festival in Melbourne. Continuing to excite fans around the world, Thalía has just finished the feature film SLANT opposite award winning actress Sigrid Thorton and Amazon star Shannon Berry (THE WILDS). We could ask Thalía Dudek what it was like to work on SLANT or their other upcoming feature where they worked with Robbie Williams on his latest biopic but Tahlía is under lock and key until their press tour begins.


Thalía Dudek is an icon in the LGBTQIA+ community, so we are here to talk about Dudek's long list of accomplishments that transcends the screen. Aside from being a critically acclaimed actor, their academic resume has also furthered them in their on-screen work (Dudek holds a degree in Philosophy and Literature).


We were thrilled and honored for the chance to sit down with the Aussie sensation to speak about their projects, queer representation in film, and their incredible work with Three Fates Company.


You boast an impressive acting career for someone who’s also well-studied. What’s an accomplishment as an actor you are most proud of?


I am so proud of the fact that I am one of the first Australian publicly non-binary actors to co-star in a major international production, that being Robbie William's biopic Better Man which has been shooting in Melbourne throughout 2022. It was an incredible experience to work with so many brilliant international actors, as well as being directed by Rocketman and The Greatest Showman's Michael Gracey.


Do you think your 10-year old self would be proud of you?


They absolutely would! I've wanted to be an actor since I was eight years old, so for that young version of me to hear that I'm already experiencing such success as a publicly non-binary actor is more than I could have ever imagined. One particular review that really touched me and continues to motivate me is from Be Melbourne, one of the largest entertainment reviewers, who said about my portrayal as Aya in LAND, "The extent of her trauma is only hinted at, but Dudek plays her as so grounded that it’s evident it has molded her with painful precision."


What is your creative process when auditioning for a role?


I know a lot of actors find auditions quite stressful, and I'm not an exception to that at all, but as I've gotten older and more disciplined as an actor, I've found a new sense of freedom in my creative process. There's all the technical things in a script that give you insight into what the casting agents might want to see, from the structure of the dialogue to the way your character's lines are punctuated. But I'm a huge academic and love diving into narrative with lots of notes, so my creative process usually starts with combing through the lines to discover hidden meanings, words that aren't said, and how the delivery of each line influences the next. It also helps when I'm preparing for a character who feels truthful to me – I've been so pleased with the wave of non-binary roles for Australian and international productions, which means that there's always a deep well of honesty to draw into my process of preparing for the audition.


You're a co-founder at Three Fates Company, which has received an incredible response from the public on its way to becoming an exciting voice in Melbourne's performance scene. What compelled you to be a part of this incredible project?


I've been performing since my early teens, and even from that young age I'd observed that the only roles available to people in my demographic – young and female-presenting – were the sister/girlfriend/wife parts. They didn't have much (if any) agency, they barely contributed to the story other than to serve the male lead's arc, and they barely had any dialogue. When I hit my early twenties, I decided enough was enough – if the roles I dreamt of performing weren't being offered, I'd create them myself. Along with two other actors, Laura McCluskey and Zoe Hawkins, I founded Three Fates where we have created opportunities to perform interesting, fully-formed characters. We stage cinematic productions that are engaging and important stories that offer commentary on the world around us, often with a narrative that revolves around political and social themes. I have written and starred in two original productions for Three Fates, ANALOG and LAND, that were performed to critical acclaim and audience praise that we continue to receive to this day. The response from Melbourne audiences has been extraordinary, and has demonstrated that not only is the type of performance we make enjoyable, but also signals a wave of change in our industry about the stories people are hungry for, with so many huge shifts in the global community over the past three years.


This month, we are asking LGBTQIA+ creatives who appear in the magazine an important question. What does Pride mean to you?


As with many people in the LGBTQIA+ community, having the courage to finally express myself as a non-binary person didn't happen overnight. I have always had a complex relationship with my body and how I presented myself to the world. When I was a teenager, I was right on the cusp of pursuing an international career in figure skating (I was already competing in the US and China), so I knew what physical lengths I could push my body to and how it could exist in a space. But there was a disconnect developing even back then, and it took me many years to discover why I felt such a mental distance from my then female-gendered body. Even though my journey was gradual, the sense of arrival that I felt when I identified as non-binary gave me the greatest sense of comfort and security in my own body. The pride that I feel about who I am in the world today, how people perceive me, and what I represent to other people in the acting community is an extraordinary, and at times, overwhelming feeling. However, Pride has always been synonymous with truth to me, and with truth comes freedom mixed with fear. But it's the commitment the LGBTQIA+ community makes to themselves and to each other every day.


As a two time recipient of the Graham Salt Medal for Innovation, what does that mean to you as a film and TV actor in Australia, and how does that play into your future plans?


The Graham Salt Medal was a huge honor to have won once, let alone twice, at the ages of 14 and 17. It was presented by Graham Salt, a British teacher and acclaimed academic, for my 'Services to the International Community' through the founding of ‘Cast’ the first performance company I founded! Cast brought together brilliant young artists from across China to create performances that represented us, our stories, and our young dreams and aspirations. Winning this award twice and at such young ages gave me so much confidence in the huge dreams I've always held, and to believe that hard work, honesty, and a bit of luck can change the lives of myself and the people around me. With this award to my name and since making the move to Australia, I have been able to continue telling important stories with exceptional actors and creators on the international stage.

 

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