Underbelly star’s big Queenstown break

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A Kiwi actress in hit TV shows Underbelly NZ and Outrageous Fortune is to teach and take time out in Queenstown. 

Holly Shanahan (right), who played a detective constable in Underbelly NZ: Land of the Long Green Cloud, is hosting six day-long acting workshops for local kids, teens and adults at the end of the month and start of February. 

Shanahan, based in Melbourne until recently, says she’s taken a break from performing and been getting a bit homesick, which has prompted her to spend some downtime in Queenstown. 

The small-screen star who grew up on a Taranaki dairy farm says her sister lives here and she herself is no stranger to the Wakatipu. 

“I always feel so inspired and peaceful down here, so I’m taking some time out while I can. I’m a real mountain person and I love to get outdoors as much as possible, so some more kayaking and mountain biking is on the cards.” 

Shanahan, with a string of theatre and small-screen credits to her name including the second season of hit Kiwi show Outrageous Fortune, hopes to pass some of her knowledge to Queenstown acting hope­fuls. 

With the kids, she works on what’s involved with auditioning for TV commercials and goes through sitcom and self-written scripts. The teenage and adult workshops focus on the audition process, and TV and film scripts. 

Of acting itself, she says: “It’s not all glitz and glamour, so you need to be prepared to work hard and deal with a lot of rejection. 

“You’re never perfect for every job so you have to keep going, work on your skills, do unpaid work or be involved in local theatre and most of all be proactive and positive. 

“The rest can come down to being in the right place at the right time or the right role coming up. If you are on top of your game and constantly practising and being involved then when the opportunity comes along, you have all the skills to get it.” 

Shanahan says Underbelly NZ, which traced the real-life drug-dealing es­­capades of Kiwi Marty Johnstone, was one of the best jobs she’s had. 

“Everyone you spoke to about the show had some loose connection to someone involved in that story so you really felt a part of something quite special. 

“We had the pleasure of meeting one of the real-life detectives who worked the case. 

“There was definitely a feeling of doing the story justice as it was such an iconic piece of New Zealand crime history.”