A former Whanganui student, who is signed with a local modelling agency, has made her acting debut in New Zealand movie Savage despite not initially getting an audition.
Italiyah Wilson, 17, plays the character Lilly in the movie which was inspired by the histories of New Zealand's gangs.
Born and raised in Upper Hutt, Italiyah moved to Whanganui in 2017 where she studied at Whanganui Girls' College and, with her sister, boarded at Ad Astra hostel for six months before the rest of the family moved from Wellington to Whanganui.
The sisters joined Whanganui-based Embrace Model Management, run by Carla Jayne Smith, which works with young people to build confidence and self-esteem. Through the agency they found out about the auditions for Savage.
"I put my name down to audition but they chose my sister and two others," Italiyah said.
"I went along to support my sister. They asked me how old I was - I said I was 14 and they said I could do it. I hadn't done any acting or drama classes other than compulsory drama at intermediate.
"Without Embrace, I wouldn't have had an ounce of confidence to do the audition at all. It prepared us for the acting industry, what it would be like and what people would be like, and how to present ourselves. [Mentor and former model] Amanda Betts and Carla had taught me those things.
"It was a really big learning curve. Going from sports and school to movies and filming was really weird but it was really cool. People would get so close to you - they would just walk up behind you and start brushing your hair or doing your makeup.
"Doing takes over and over was weird. Everything was really new."
The movie was filmed in locations around Wellington with Italiyah's role, filmed when she was 15, taking a few weeks "on and off".
Italiyah said although the themes of the movie were intense, it had a good storyline.
"My character came from a troubled background. She was on her own the whole time and is really independent but likes to socialise. She hangs out with people way older - she's 17 and hangs out with 30-year-olds.
"I like my character. We're both very aware of things. She picks up if someone is feeling bad or planning to do something really bad.
"I liked filming it because everything was so new and I like new things. It was so weird seeing yourself on screen and how everything linked together.
"I didn't realise how many people were involved. There was someone just for coffees and someone to put a jacket on you.
"My friends and family members have been really supportive. Some teachers have come up and congratulated me which is really nice."
Italiyah, a keen netballer, is currently in Year 12 at Heretaunga College and said pursuing acting isn't one of her priorities.
"Right now I want to focus on school. I want to be a mechanic or something along the lines of cars but if an opportunity comes up I'd be keen to do more acting."
She is interested in joining the Air Force or doing a mechanics gateway course next year.