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  • Anna McGahan as desirable prostitute Nellie Cameron in Underbelly: Razor. Photo: Channel 9

  • Prostitute Nellie Cameron (Anna McGahan, enjoys a night out with her lover, Norman Bruhn (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor)in Underbelly: Razor. Photo: channel 9

  • Special Constable Lilliam Armfield (Lucy Wigmore) with prostitute Nellie Cameron (Anna McGahan) in Underbelly: Razor. Photo: channel 9

Underbelly coup for QUT acting grads

18 August 2011

First a Melbourne crime boss and now a gritty prostitute. Queensland University of Technology (QUT) acting grads and the acclaimed Australian television series Underbelly are a deadly combination.

Sunday night, two 2010 QUT Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) graduates will make their Underbelly debut in the fourth series of the popular crime drama, Underbelly: Razor, which is set in Sydney during the roaring 1920s and 30s.

Anna McGahan plays the central role of Nellie Cameron, a 16-year-old prostitute from a wealthy background who influenced some of the era's most powerful men.

Classmate Anna Lawrence appears in a guest role as Irene Bruhn, the wife of standover man Norman Bruhn.

McGahan said she was excited to be following in the footsteps of fellow QUT acting graduate Gyton Grantley, who visited QUT as an artist-in-residence after rising to fame for his role as Melbourne crime figure Carl Williams in the franchise's first series in 2008.

"We met Gyton during a workshop at QUT a couple of months before I got the role. It is surreal to be following in his footsteps in that way," she said.

"Underbelly is a strange beast and I loved every second of it. Having the opportunity to play criminals that actually existed is amazing.

"I got to pretend to be sexy and dangerous, which is so different to who I really am.

"Nellie is such an eccentric character, she's unique and I wanted to play her honestly. It's not about theatrics. I worked to bring her alive from a really innocent, honest place."

While the Coorparoo girl has called Sydney home for the past five months she will return to Brisbane to produce her play He's Seeing Other People Now, which she began writing as a student at QUT, for the Independent at Metro Arts' Sue Benner Theatre.

"I'm grateful for my opportunity on Underbelly to work with so many incredible people. I'm much more comfortable on set now," she said.

"When you are at uni you don't realise how important what you're learning is. When I got on set it all made sense so I sent all my lecturers an email saying 'thank you. I finally get what you were saying'.

QUT's Head of Acting Dianne Eden said the distinguished roles were well deserved by the two Annas - McGahan and Lawrence - who were already carving their place in the competitive industry.

"Anna McGahan was a deliciously dominant student who approached the role from many perspectives," she said.

"The Underbelly roles were well deserved by the two girls - they are young artists who have gone the extra mile to understand a difficult industry."

Fellow classmate Brenton Thwaites also burst onto the small screen this week with his debut as Luke Gallagher on Brisbane-based coming-of-age drama SLiDE on Fox8.

The ten-part series follows the exploits of five Brisbane teenagers smashing their way into adulthood - something which resonated with the "Cairns skater-boy".

"Playing Luke was great fun and he's a character that I've always wanted to play," he said.

"He is active, relaxed with women and has this whole charisma thing going on, which is great. I was never like that, but wanted to be."

Thwaites will also be appearing in a guest role on quintessential Aussie drama Home & Away this week.

Underbelly: Razor premieres this Sunday on Channel 9.

Media contact:
Alita Pashley, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1841 or alita.pashley@qut.edu.au

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