Twelve Questions: Beth Allen

Beth Allen, 29, is a New Zealand actress best known as Dr Brooke Freeman on Shortland Street. She was a child actor on The Tribe, bought her first house at age 19 and loves a budget spreadsheet.

Beth Allen was about to try her acting talent overseas when she was offered her Shortland Street role. Photo / Dean Purcell
Beth Allen was about to try her acting talent overseas when she was offered her Shortland Street role. Photo / Dean Purcell

1. So I hear you're the meanest woman on Shortland Street: any Scottish ancestry?

No Scottish in me, just parents who worked and saved hard, made all their meals at home and never put stuff on tick. Preparing my lunch the night before is one of my favourite rituals. Though I possibly take my frugality a bridge too far by transporting the food to work in Jimbo's petfood containers.

2. So your parents taught you to save?

I wasn't very good with money and after I'd made a bit they took it off me because I was spending quite a lot. I was about 16 at the time, and I was furious. It was quite a bit - enough for a deposit on a house. I went out and got a $5.50 an hour job at the Wendy's icecream bar in Lynnmall and a couple of years later I felt a bit differently about what they'd done. I bought a house in New Lynn when I was about 19.

3. What was in yesterday's home-brought lunch?

Cannellini beans, tuna, tomato, chia seeds, parsley and lemon juice. A salad. I've recently come to the conclusion that I need to eat much more healthy food. Less refined, more wholefoods. Once you see your bum on a big-screen high definition TV in your living room it's easier to decide to keep things in check.

4. Where did your acting desire come from and what did you learn from those early experiences?

My mother's convinced I got my acting bug from her reading Winnie the Pooh to me as a kid. She does amazing voices. When I was 12 I moved to Wellington to shoot a series, and a few weeks in called my parents and told them I wanted to come home. My father told me that that certainly wasn't happening, because I'd signed a contract. The moment passed, and in the end I had a fantastic time. So I learned about professionalism. I also learned that in lots of ways acting is more privileged and easier than a real job and to be grateful for every day I get to spend on a set.

5. Is rejection something aspiring child stars have to learn to deal with?

Yep. They'll never tell you why you didn't get the part. You just have to move on and try to stay chirpy.

6. Do people stereotype you because of the whole blonde, telly-star thing?

They seem to think that I'm going to be like Brooke and have a nervous look in their eye when they talk to me in a supermarket. Like they might at any moment have to dodge a missile of a packet of frozen beans.

7. If your appearance matched your personality, what would you look like?

A meerkat with a clipboard.

8. Why haven't you followed so many others trying to make it in Sydney, LA, London?

I was a bit of a scaredy cat about it, to be honest. I went to university after I finished school, so that took up a few years. Then I did actually plan to move to Sydney and was six weeks away from getting on the plane when I got offered the part on Shortland Street. Now I don't rule out giving it a go, but I really love New Zealand, and being close to my family and my dog.

9. Who has been your greatest mentor?

Alma Johnson, my speech and drama teacher from the ages of 10 to 18. She went in to bat for me to sign with my first agent, taught me how to project my voice and bring a script to life, how to move on stage, and to not be lazy and do the work.

10. Who, in your opinion, is the most influential person in New Zealand?

Kim Dotcom. I don't necessarily agree with everything he's doing, but he's become a great figurehead for the issue of citizens' privacy in New Zealand. It's an issue that my generation seems to be complacent about, and that makes me nervous.

11. And he appeared in the Christmas play at your husband Charlie McDermott's Basement Theatre. Did you get to know him at all?

It took them ages to track him down to get him to appear in the play. In the end they just bowled up to him when he was switching on the Franklin Rd Christmas lights. We sent him the script then went out to the mansion to discuss it. It was amazing. They are a really nice family and that house is completely out of this world.

12. Describe the joy of ticking off a task on a to-do list.

I love lists. I have about 14 categories of sublists, things I'm going to read or do. Someone told me that the only natural endorphin-creators are sex, exercise and ticking things off lists. I am guilty of writing things down that I have already done, in order to be able to tick them off.

- NZ Herald

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