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‘Heartbreak High’ Stars Spill Their Best Advice for Aspiring Actors

Heartbreak-High-Variety-Podcast Ayesha Madon Thomas Weatherall

In Partnership with JMC Academy

Despite “Heartbreak High” cracking the list of most watched shows on Netflix in Australia, stars Ayesha Madon and Thomas Weatherall had no idea if what they were making was a hit or not while filming.

“I kind of didn’t expect anything. I just was happy to be there,” Madon reflects, chatting to host Poppy Reid on the Variety Australia podcast at the JMC Academy campus in Sydney

For Weatherall, the feeling was similar. “When you make anything, you hope it’s gonna be good and you get a vibe of what kind of reception it might have, but you just can’t be prepared for it to take off the way it did,” he says. 

Recorded and produced by JMC Academy students studying Entertainment Business Management, Film & TV, and Audio Engineering, in front of a live audience of JMC Acting students, the podcast episode dives into Madon and Weatherall’s acting careers, how they got started, and how they manage the inevitable self-doubt that comes with putting yourself out there for audiences. 

When it came to “Heartbreak High”, that doubt was quickly replaced by gratification. 

By the end of season one, they knew the collection of young, talented actors, writers and producers involved in the project – Australia’s first-ever scripted Netflix show – were onto something special. 

Now into its second season, the series, known for its bold writing and sharp one liners, has not only captivated audiences across Australia but has also found unexpected popularity in countries as diverse as the Netherlands and Serbia. 

“We hoped it would be something quite revolutionary because of the creatives involved,” Madon shares. Madon, transitioning from theatre to television, and Weatherall, a dancer turned actor, both emphasised the unique magic that a group of first-timers brought to the set.

“What was so special about that first season is they took a chance on a lot of first time creatives, including the actors,” Madon says. “I think there was a lot at stake for all of us in terms of proving ourselves [but] that brought a very specific type of magic to the project.”

Both actors are proof that there’s no one linear path to becoming an actor. In fact, the process looks different for everyone – especially when it came to scoring their roles in the Netflix mega hit. 

“We’d been auditioning for months and I was so on edge by this point,” Madon says. “The hardest thing is when you get so far, you are doing callbacks for months, and then you don’t get it, it’s like soul crushing.” 

Luckily, a phone call came at just the right time while touring for the musical theatre show “Fangirls” – she’d landed the role. “We just ran to the change rooms and I was screaming and crying. I will never forget that night.”

For Weatherall, the process looked very different. He told the JMC Academy students the story of how he was cast just three weeks before shooting. “I got approached early on and was asked to audition for Darren, not Malakai.” He declined, thinking the role just wasn’t right, but went through for another audition later.

“My partner read with me and I just looked at her and I was like, ‘I think I’ve got this job.’ A couple of days later they go, ‘Can you do a chemistry read with Ayesha and Bryn?’ An hour later I got the call [and] three weeks later I was in Sydney for pre-production.” 

For aspiring actors and creatives at JMC Academy, Madon and Weatherall shared invaluable advice about the industry.

They stressed the importance of perseverance and adaptability, urging students to embrace uncertainty and use it as a stepping stone towards achieving their goals. Their stories highlighted that career paths are often filled with unexpected turns and opportunities that can lead to something amazing. 

“It’s also okay not to know or to take a step that you don’t think is going to lead to your final goal,” Madon recommends. “I literally could never have predicted I was going to be an actor, but sometimes you’ll just land in another pocket that is equally as awesome and you enjoy as much.” 

Keen to learn more? Listen to the full episode with Ayesha Madon and Thomas Weatherall or explore JMC Academy’s full range of creative degrees.

Stream the Variety Australia Podcast below or anywhere you get your podcasts.