I have had the opportunity to write to Petra twice to ask her a few questions about herself and her career, and the following text is the result of this two-part interview. The first four questions were answered in November 2000, and the last four in April 2001. I hope you'll enjoy reading this interview, and a big thanks to Petra who took the time to reply to my letters despite her busy schedule.
When were you born? Do you have brothers and sisters?
I was born in Melbourne on 18th January 1979. My parents are Rick and Shelley. I have an older sister called Sara who is 24 and a brother called Nicholas who is only 12.
Is your real name Petra Jared or Petra Yared?
My name... It is actually Petra Yared. When I shot 'Sky Trackers' the producers suggested I spell it differently for security reasons because at the time my family was still in the phone book under Yared. So I spelt it Jared for a few years but changed it back to its correct spelling because it was confusing for people and by then we had a silent number.
How did you start acting?
When I was 9 I started doing acting workshops at the National Theatre which led to a couple of auditions and my first small role. I got a children's agent when I was 11 and started doing auditions more frequently and small parts on t.v. When I was 14 I got my first lead role which was on 'Sky Trackers'.
Did you have your hair cut to be on 'Mirror Mirror'? (note: in 'Sky Trackers', Petra had long hair and in 'Mirror Mirror', which was shot the next year, her hair was very short – if you have seen 'Mirror Mirror' you know that this is an important detail, since in 1919 her character Jo (Josephine) is said to look like a boy).
My hair cut story... I still had long hair when I first auditioned for 'Mirror Mirror'. I had auditioned for the part of 'Louisa' which Michala ended up playing. I hadn't heard whether or not I had the role and several weeks had passed so I assumed I didn't. I had all my hair cut off and the next day my agent called and said that the producers wanted to see me again. When they heard about my hair they thought maybe I should audition for 'Jo' instead – you know the rest! It's short again now by the way.
Do you prefer Jo Tiegan's yellow dress, Nikki Colbert's colourful leggings (with the mauve sweat shirt and the red jacket of course), or Ralna's sexy outfit?
Nikki's colourful leggings with the stripy tops and boots were the best for sure!! Although both Ralna and Jo's outfits were pretty spectacular too!! I have worn some scary stuff!!
How would you describe the difference between working on a tv series, a film and a theatre play? Are these experiences complementary, or is there one you like better than the others?
I love doing all three – film, tv and theatre. Each are a very different way of working, largely because of the lifestyles that come with them. Obviously in film and tv you work very long hours whereas when you're performing on stage you usually only work in the evenings. I think the most fun in theatre is when things go wrong and you have to make them work immediately. I have gone into such massive laughing fits on stage over silly things I've had to turn away from the audience and bite my finger to try to stop without ruining the show.
How did you manage to pursue an acting career while having to get an education?
When I was still in high school I always had a tutor on set so when I couldn't make it to school there was someone to help me with my work. It obviously got harder as I got older and my workload at school increased. In my final year I decided not to act at all because I wanted to get good marks in case somewhere down the track I decided to go to university. I am glad now that I made that decision because I did decide to study again and I am now doing a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University. If work (acting) that I really want to do comes along I can defer or if it's a not-too-big role maybe drop back to part time so I think it's possible to do both. It keeps me busy anyway!!
One more 'Mirror, Mirror' question: did you keep in touch with any of the actors from the show?
I haven't really kept in touch with the other “Mirror Mirror” actors but occasionally bump into Michala which is always great. I will always consider them all friends – we had a lot of fun!
Thank you so much for answering all these questions!
© 2001 Petra Yared and the Petra Yared Website. Please do not use without permission.