Melissa Bergland burst onto our television screens this year as the irrepressible Jenny Gross, one of the four principal characters in the new Seven Network drama series Winners & Losers. “Jenny is the underdog,” Melissa says. “For her, life is about turning lemons into lemonade. It’s how you deal with your problems that count; it either makes you a stronger person or it breaks you.”
While Melissa only has a few screen credits to her name, the Flinders University graduate and former VCA Drama student also trained in New York and appeared in the New York Community Festival’s production of Fat Camp. Returning to Australia, Melissa presented her own cabaret show Blue Eyed Soul at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Melissa also appeared in Underbelly Files: Tell the Lucifer Was Here and the new film from the director of The Jammed, Who Wants To Be A Terrorist!
Melissa was in the final stages of auditions for Hairspray the Musical when she was asked to audition for Jenny, the role “she was born to play” in Winners & Losers. Here are Melissa’s answers to the AFI Quick Quiz:
Q. What is your favorite word?
Q. What is your least favourite word?
Q. What turns you on?
A. Good music!
Q. What turns you off?
A. A weak handshake
Q. What sound or noise do you love?
A. My back cracking
Q. What sound or noise do you hate?
A. Sloppy chewing sound
Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. Interior design
Q. What profession would you not like to do?
A. Working in an abbatoir
Q. The last film or DVD you watched?
A. New York, I Love You
Q. The film that changed you and why?
A. Amelie. It made me believe and take note of the little magical happenings of everyday life.
Q. Your guilty television pleasure?
A. Probably shows like MTV Cribs, Pimp My Ride and Toddlers & Tiaras
Q. Complete this sentence: The thing I love about working in the Australian film and television industry is…
A. The people. It’s very easy to form and maintain relationships with people in this industry, because it’s an industry everyone has chosen for themselves. Sometimes the job is hard, with long hours and physically and emotionally draining, and there’s no way people would do it if they didn’t absolutely love it!
Q. Three key mentors that have inspired you?
A. My Year 12 Drama teacher Julianne English, she was always supportive and had faith from my high school days that I’d be a working actor one day. The actress Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love). She has a luminescence on screen that I strive to emulate. She’s also been working away quietly in the industry, making clever career moves and never being too caught up in the fame aspect of the job. I find her interesting, humble and professional. My co-stars: Melanie, Virginia and Zoe inspire me on a daily basis. Working with them makes me want to do better, be better.
Winners & Losers screens Tuesdays, 8.30pm on the Seven Network.