It’s become standard for well-known actors to represent companies in huge commercial campaigns.
Acclaimed actor Zara Michales however does things a little differently. While Australians have seen her image plastered across TV and computer screens all over the country (and by extension, around the world) for Colonial First State’s savings campaign, Zara distinguished herself from fellow Aussie and The Mentalist star Simon Baker (himself known for fronting bank ANZ) by including her family in the campaign as well.
It was a personal touch such as this which speaks to the integrity around which Zara’s career has been built – only taking on projects if she has a personal connection to them, rather than serving her ego. And it’s for this reason that she was tipped for a profile in our publication as an artist making an impact in all the right ways, through creative choices that help make the entertainment industry a better one to work in.
“I think it’s really important to only do things that you’re going to be proud of, and the Colonial campaign was one I knew I could look back on with fondness because I got to work with my parents – how good is that?”
She adds with a laugh, “I mean, everyone’s parents drive them crazy sometimes but they’ve been so supportive of me over the years so I knew it was really awesome to spend time on set with them.”
Zara’s starring role in the commercial campaign has attracted millions of eyeballs online and on the TV where the spot was first shown, and is a testament to the credence of her body of work that a respected company like Colonial wanted to work with a TV and film actress like Zara.
“The company represents security and family, things I value a lot – so it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of when my agent called me about it.”
Of course, Zara wouldn’t have been approached to front a multi-million dollar company were it not for the credibility she’s built over many years in the entertainment business, attracting a growing fan base each year she adds a roster of projects to her resume.
Starring appearances at events like the Australian premieres of Snow White and the Huntsman and Thor: Ragnarok also can’t hurt. Zara adds with a laugh, “It’s always lovely to get invited to those events and help support other filmmakers and actors, especially Aussies doing well.”
More important to Zara though were her involvements with UN International Women’s Day Breakfast, and her volunteering with the National Stroke Foundation. Each event, hosted by well-known newsreader Chris Bath, also boasted the attendance and support of fellow celebrities such as Sandra Sully, Kris Smith and Sarah Murdoch, just some of the high-profile entertainers like Zara who have merged entertainment with philanthropy.
Undeniably important to Zara though is her actual craft, as evidenced by her role in the feature film 2:22. In that fan-favourite feature film which attracted attracted notices from leading publication The Wrap for its compelling storyline, Zara took on the critical role of Ellie.
Zara’s character was specially written for her, as she had originally auditioned for a different character months’ prior. The award-winning director Paul Currie, himself known for producing the Oscar-winning Hacksaw Ridge, wanted to meet with Zara to figure out what type of character he could write into the script for 2:22. If there’s a definition for ‘making it,’ our writers could be forgiven for using that hallmark of Zara’s career as an example. It’s not often that an acclaimed filmmaker like Paul customises his film to fit in an actor, but with the reputation Zara has cultivated over many years in the industry, it should come as no surprise she found herself on set working alongside fellow household name, Teresa Palmer.
“I remember first meeting Teresa at the Table read during pre-production. She was so lovely and was a very down to earth girl.”
The shoot proved to be demanding and challenging in all the right ways, as Zara’s character was crucial to the developments of the thrilling script.
Zara’s character of Ellie works in Air traffic control with Dylan, played by Game of Thrones’ and The Haunting of Hill House’s Michael Huisman’s character ‘Dylan’. Ellie, in true Zara-fashion, offered a funny and edgy character to the roster of roles in the film as she was Dylan’s ‘bad influence’ who likes to have fun.
“I took Dylan out and about on the town to get his mind off the major incident that happens at the beginning of the film where two planes had almost collided under his supervision.”
If it weren’t for Ellie, Dylan wouldn’t overcome his guilt and insecurities – crucial to the next set up that leads to the movie’s famous plot-twists.
At this point in the conversation with Zara, she wants to hold back from revealing too much about the feature’s plot so that readers can enjoy the film on their own via Netflix.
“It’s so gratifying to be an actor who’s a part of the Netflix family,” Zara says with a smile.
Zara’s work on 2:22 is just one in a number of edgy film projects that, she believes, helps innovating the film industry to challenge audiences in the most impactful way possible.
“I love playing vastly different characters…I’ve always try to work with the director to flesh out what the character needed to be in the life of the project.”
Indeed, Zara’s played everything from a tough and ruthless army officer to the spunky, sassy, confident, hot blooded girlfriend.
In Crossing Paths, Zara joins the trend established by Black Mirror by taking part in an interactive film, where she plays the leading role of Lena. The director of Crossing Paths, JJ Winlove, is also in talks with Margot Robbie’s company LuckyChap Entertainment to produce a feature script.
It goes without saying that Zara’s on a great run; something though which hasn’t come out of luck, but instead due to hard work and smart choices.
“I’ve had to work really hard, and developed new skills along the way.”
For her role in US series Childhood’s End, which was filmed in Australia, Zara had to perfect a Latin American accent with a coach. The hard work paid off, as she proved to be critical to the show’s storyline.
“In the first episode my character Freya abducts and interrogates the lead Ricky Stormgren played by Mike Vogel. From this point of the story onwards the plot catapults forwards and everything more or less descends into chaos.”
In real life though, Zara’s less of antagonist and more of an agent for positive change. Something she hopes to do in the near future as she gears up for a role in a US feature film.
“I’m really excited,” Zara adds with a smile.
The same can be said we’re sure for our readers.