To begin with what initially made you interested in acting?
My mother! She is a singer (in fact a teenage pop-star in NZ in the 60's!) She had me acting on a TV before I could even talk! I was the resident baby daughter on a long running New Zealand soap... So long ago I can't even remember the name (I'll ask mum!) and basically I got hooked from then!
How did you get the role of Susannah in The Tribe?
Auditioning of course, the usual way... And then as luck would have it, got the part!
Susannah and her partner Troy were slave traders. They both put on friendly fronts as they held people captive and they later traded them as slaves. It was along time ago, but from what you remember, how did you find playing the character and what are your thoughts about her?
Yes, you are right it was a long time ago... But I do remember thinking that it would be a challenge and a load of fun to play such a cruel character, so manipulative and cunning. It was a great experience in finding the assertive, 'meanie' in me and to work with a character so far removed from myself!
My thoughts about her...well if I met her on the street I think I would probably think she is a nice enough person, hospitable, I would probably have dinner with her as she appears kind on the outside... But in her situation, "desperate situations lead to desperate measures" they say. Obviously I am not an advocate of slave trading or human trafficking, child trafficking; it's a disgusting injustice that unfortunately still exists in many parts of the world.
The Tribe was set in the future, and followed the fortunes of the survivors of a virus which killed all the adults. In that scenario did you feel the idea of slave trading was a bit far fetched or do you think it was a necessary scenario for the kids to take a step back in order to take a step forward?
So in answer to the next question as well, I do not think the idea of slave trading was far fetched for the kids in that circumstance, I am sure there are many children of the world who are a product of that environment, perhaps they would copy because that is what they know.
Susannah and Troy were utterly desperate, poor and in need of any form of livelihood... So they resorted to the lowest form.
Look at the world around us now. Human beings are capable of such awful and beautiful actions... Its not far fetched at all sad to say. Its a sad reality though, slave trading, that I hope will change in the future.
I don't think its necessary though for the kids to take a step back in order to take a step forward... How can humanity ever progress if we keep blindly following what is passed on to us?
It takes courage to create change...
How did you find the whole experience of acting and working on The Tribe?
Fantastic, a great experience. So many wonderful people to work beside and learn from. It was a real community.
Since starring in The Tribe have you watched the series?
In all honesty... No I haven't!!! A few episodes here and there... It was on at 4am in the morning in NZ (that's my excuse, and plus, I find it hard to watch myself on screen, it feels weird!
According to IMDB, it seems as if your TV roles have been only with Cloud 9 productions. Acting does seem a difficult profession to get into, for yourself was acting something you do on the side or is it a career you are actively pursuing? If not, what other careers have you had an interest in?
I have done ads and films with other companies. Obviously not big hits, but that is not really why I am in the profession. Acting, drama, theatre is definitely the career I am actively pursuing. It's a career that can take you on many different directions and also one that you have to be smart about because in essence, you are your own business, so I am exploring loads of different avenues - directing, writing, teaching drama...but acting is always the fav!
What would your ideal acting role/character be and why?
Hmmm that's a toughie... My ideal acting role...
I think it would be a mix of Amelie meets Ugly Betty... I love their quirkiness and how they view life. They are also non stereotypical female characters and I like that! We need to see more of that onscreen.
I read you are involved in the Baha'i religion, what began your interest in the religion?
Again, my mother introduced me to it when I was a kid; it was never forced on me. That is one of the major principles, the independent investigation of truth for oneself.
When I was about 17 I really started to 'investigate', questioned a lot of what I was brought up to believe, I read a lot from loads of different faith's and philosophies, and that brought me to really embracing the Baha'i Faith, as it encapsulated everything I hold to be true. I read 'The 7 Valleys' by Baha'u'llah, that speaks about a 'wayfarer' or traveller on a spiritual journey... And that began my own search!
I also see you have done plenty of travelling, would I be right in saying as some sort of a spiritual journey?
I have travelled a lot. And yes, it is definitely a spiritual journey but I believe that is an inner thing, you can be on one no matter where you are in the world, if you have travelled or not. It certainly opened up my mind to cultures and customs and ways of living that have had a profound effect on me. You also see how interconnected we all are.
I have tended to stay put in one place for long periods of time rather than 'travel' around, Sweden, Sydney, Israel, China... You get more of a sense from a country that way; you see what it is like to be a 'local' more or less.
To date what would you say has been your most memorable travelling experience and why?
It would definitely be when I volunteered for 18 months at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. I was among a group of over 600 Baha'i volunteers from every corner of the globe, Cameroon, Samoa, Germany, India you name it. Such an incredible experience to learn from all these cultures, and to also be able to visit the Shrine of Baha'u'llah, the most sacred spot for Baha'i's, every weekend! What an absolute treat!! I hope everyone gets to visit Shrine one day, it the most peaceful and calming place I have ever experienced.
Work wise what are you currently up to in this moment of time?
I am a drama specialist at an International school in Shanghai, as well as acting in theatre here, and writing for a TV show... It's pretty busy! Shanghai is the land of opportunities right now!
What does the future hold for Chantelle?
That is a good question...I am learning to just 'go with the flow' as they say...but it will always involve acting in some way or the other!
I want to start my own theatre and film company....
Is there a fan/agency address fans can write to you at?
Nope.... I am not that in demand! Hehe but they could go through you!
And finally, is there a message for your fans out there?
Wow, I didn't think I would have any! It was such a long time ago!! But if there are... I would say that follow your dreams, you don't know where in the world they may take you.... As I am currently realising!
I'd just like to add a huge thanks to Chantelle for participating in this interview.