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A supermodel, a teen idol, a beauty queen — NIDA’s short courses open doors for Australia’s favourites

June 15, 2019 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

For Sydney girl Laura Dundovic, after not only winning the crown of Miss Universe Australia but going on to place in the top 10 in the entire world at the infamously grand and competitive global Miss Universe showdown, Laura’s modelling career was already flourishing when she first came to NIDA Open.

While everyone is familiar with the iconic graduates of NIDA’s three-year intensive Acting degree, what is less known is that NIDA’s public arm, NIDA Open, has an accessible program of shorter courses that have opened doors for high profile Australian icons as well — including supermodel Nicole Trunfio, teen idol and Netflix star Katherine Langford, and former Miss Universe Australia, Laura Dundovic.

For those who can’t invest three years to train in NIDA’s legendary full-time Acting degree, NIDA Open allows adults to  develop their creative and expressive instincts with short course and pre-professional training on weekends and evenings. NIDA Open also offers full-time residencies in summer and winter, which are what Katherine Langford and Nicole Trunfio undertook — more details about their training below interview.

In celebration of Laura’s first feature film role in new Australian romantic comedy Me and My Left Brain, at cinemas now, we asked about her choice to undertake training with NIDA Open, at a time when her modelling career was going from already strength to strength.

Q: After winning Miss Universe Australia, and then placing in the top 10 in the entire world at the global Miss Universe showdown, you already had a highly successful modelling career. So why did you choose to do NIDA Open training?

Laura: For me, Miss Universe was but a step in a very long journey.  I mean, it was a good step and it took me on an amazing journey, and helped launch quite an exciting career, so for that I’m very thankful. Having said that, it may open doors, but it doesn’t get you through them.  You need to show up with ‘something’.

For me that was creating a base from which to build.  That’s why I went to NIDA Open. I didn’t want to be another model that wanted to act (even though I am), and I wanted the opportunity to play all sorts of characters.  The more I saw, the more I studied, the more I wanted to learn.

I was inspired by people in class who did things I hadn’t thought of ­– nuanced subtleties, movement, cadence.  There’s so much to draw on, to create, to bring ‘strangers’ to life. When I’m in a class and I can let myself go, that’s when I feel my most free.  I’m a Virgo, so I’m a perfectionist and enjoy growing and challenging myself.

I have made some great friends from studying with NIDA Open, with similar interests to me. It’s a great community to be part of and I’m thankful for the foundation it’s given me.

Q: How did it help with your presenting/screen skills?

Laura: Funnily enough I had fractured my ankle and had some time off so decided to take a presenting course. I hate having nothing to do and I love to learn so this was perfect for me.

Little did I know how timely and perfect this would be. Even though I’d been in front of cameras for years, presenting is a different beast.  Hit your mark, where’s your light, what do you do with your hands?

These things all seem like common sense until you’re on a set standing in front of a camera and you mumble through your intro realising you don’t know what you’re doing.

It was a great experience for me, and it helped with a lot of fine tuning. Two days after the course finished, I had an audition for the host of Dating in the Dark and got the job! I had my own TV show for a few years and felt so comfortable from day one on set because of the things I had learnt with NIDA Open.

Q: You have just had your feature film debut in Me and My Left Brain. Your infectious energy and sense of humour obviously come across when being yourself as a presenter— what attracts you in acting as opposed to presenting?

Laura: I love getting to immerse myself in a different world. Presenting is fun but acting enables you to explore other characters, people very different from yourself.

Having studied psychology I love analysing people and emotions and situations so when I am looking at script I get to do that and then when I am performing the chemistry between the person I am acting with can change each scene and I love that.

Me and My Left Brain is at cinemas now.

NIDA Open’s Winter Residencies start on  Monday 1 July. 

Nicole Trunfio

Australian supermodel Nicole Trunfio dedicated the summer she was 19 to learning screen techniques with NIDA Open, studying on weekdays and weekends for four weeks at the iconic NIDA campus in Kensington.

Nicole would go on to star as a mentor for aspiring models on television shows The Face and Make Me A Supermodel (USA), as well as playing Sam Worthington’s wife in Australian film Paper Planes and a ‘bikini babe’ in Sofia Coppola’s feature film Somewhere.

Despite this early success, Nicole has said that while her modelling career is still flourishing, she won’t be making a full career transition.

Katherine Langford
Extremely popular young Netflix-era actress, Katherine Langford, has taken the world by storm since starring in the 2017 Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination.

While Katherine grew up in Western Australia, NIDA Open brings NIDA’s high calibre of teaching methods and instructors to capital cities around the nation, and so every year since she was 16, Katherine was able to spend part of her summer undertaking intensive acting courses with NIDA Open in Perth.

When she was 18, Katherine chose to make the long journey all the way to NIDA headquarters in Sydney to undertake the elite and rigorous Advanced Actors Residency. The intake in her course was only five, allowing great personal attention for each student.

Following this, Katherine was cast in 13 Reasons Why and the rest is history. Katherine now has one of the most popular Instagram accounts of any Australian figure, with 13.7 million followers—only Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie and Ruby Rose come out ahead.

NIDA Open’s Winter Residencies start on Monday 1 July. 

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