Rising Stars in Theatre and Film

For much of Australia’s early history touring theatre companies and vaudeville circuits brought variety entertainment to regional towns. Some still exist today.

From beneath the North Pole ice to fighting the roiling seas on Shackleton’s Quest, South Australian photographer Hubert Wilkins was one of the world’s great Polar explorers.

1. Emilia Murray

In the film industry, it’s not often that individual voices make it to the screen without some kind of major rewrite or extensive studio support. But South Australian filmmaker Emilia Murray’s idiosyncratic debut Girl Asleep is one of the rare exceptions. It recently won a coveted top prize at the CinefestOz festival in Western Australia, and was picked up by Oscilloscope, the US distribution arm of the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch’s company.

The spry and nimble Murray has made a big splash in the local theater scene, too. Her work on Windmill’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest earned her a nomination for Best Female Actor at the 2022 Adelaide Drama Awards. She’s also appeared on TV and in the movies, most recently as Lolly Allen in the soap opera Neighbours and Cora Hale in CW series Reign.

Murray honed her craft at the city’s world-renowned National Theatre School. In a career that’s been defined by a variety of challenging roles, she stands out for her performance as Greta in the 2021 Australian film Almost There.

Outside of the theater, Murray is a rising star in the football (soccer) world. She’s a regular in the Young Matildas squad and just had her first season with Adelaide United, where she has established herself as a dangerous attacking force. She’s quick, courageous, and creative with a right foot that can produce defense-splitting passes or thunderous strikes.

2. Katie Bowler

Bowler’s first year as a Reds player has been an impressive one. She was an instrumental part of the side’s thrashing of Carlton in the opening Gather Round match of 2023 and scored her second Rising Star nomination this week for her composed performance against a much-fancied Blues team. The defender recorded 10 disposals (at 90% efficiency) and three inside 50s against the Blues and laid four tackles.

She also plays the bass horn, and in March she released her debut album Feed the Hound (for basset horn) on Cuillin Sound Music. She has also performed as a soloist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and at the Sydney Opera House. The upcoming season will see her make her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut as Dudamel Fellow in a concert with the ensemble, and she’ll appear on the UK & international tour of Mamma Mia!

Valeria Guarjardo is back for another season with Adelaide City, and the young striker looks set to play a major role for the club in their quest for the top-four. The former Football SA NTC player is hoping to add a greater work rate and discipline to her game, while still maintaining the raw talent that has earned her a call-up to the Scorpions WNCL squad. She’ll be joined in the side by fellow South Australians Jenna McCormick and Maruschka Waldus.

3. Alex Fletcher

As far as Broadway tryouts go, it doesn’t get much farther away from Times Square than Adelaide, Australia. But that’s where veteran Broadway lyricist Richard Maltby and composer David Shire workshopped a new version of their latest show, Take Flight.

Adelaide native Alex Fletcher has carved out her own niche in the world of Australian television. She’s appeared as Lolly Allen in the soap opera Neighbours and Tenaya 7 in the kids’ series Power Rangers RPM. But she really blew up on the small screen with her role as Harper in the MTV Networks Australia drama Love My Way.

The upcoming 2022 Adelaide Film Festival features an impressive line-up of 129 films, 22 of which are world premieres. The event runs Oct. 19 to 30 in the South Australian capital.

Founder of STARC Productions, no one in Adelaide knows more about creating innovative, intimate independent theater than Stef Rossi. A seasoned professional stunt woman who’s doubled for top-level actresses, Rossi is uniquely qualified to offer her perspective on pathways to success in the performing arts industry. Her experience has given her a holistic perspective of what it takes to build a career in this increasingly competitive field. She’s also a champion of giving local talent the space to experiment with new ideas. That’s why she’s proud to be the inaugural recipient of the Hanlon Larsen Screen Fellowship.

4. Luke Weddle

Actor, dancer, singer, director and producer – Stef Rossi does it all. She has an intimate understanding of the challenges that emerging creatives face when starting out. As founder of STARC Productions, she has a holistic perspective on the pathways to success.

Rossi is also a founding member of Reading Companions Australia, which brings Shakespeare to schools and libraries around the country through a series of workshops. She’s also an experienced voice coach who coaches actors for commercials and film projects.

The Castle (directed by Rob Sitch and starring Greta Scacchi) was one of the highest grossing Australian films of the year 2000 and entered the top ten of all time highest grossing Australian films. It was followed by period comedy The Dish and big budget Australian-international co-productions Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) and Happy Feet (George Miller, 2006).

Mat Kesting and his team at the Adelaide Film Festival are leading a new generation of screen talent. Their critically acclaimed programs and overarching creative vision have smashed box office, sponsorship and philanthropic targets while delivering ongoing economic value to South Australia.