Los Angeles-based Australian actor Phoebe Tonkin stars in the hit US supernatural TV series The Vampire Diaries, and was on ambassador duties in Sydney last week for jewellery label Jan Logan. Kate Waterhouse spoke with the 23-year-old about getting her big break, living in LA and her love life.
Did you always want to be an actor?
Not really. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but someone told me to just get involved with everything at school which I did, from Japanese club, to drama club to choir. I just fell in love with acting and I started doing acting classes at ATYP [Australian Theatre for Young People] and I really enjoyed it. Then I auditioned for a couple of things and [the Australian TV series] H2O: Just Add Water came from that. From there it became less of a hobby and more of a job. It's great to be working in something that you love doing.
What was your big break overseas?
I had a series of auditions with Kevin Williamson, who was the producer [of The Secret Circle], and after that he called to say I had got the job and I literally flew out straight away to Canada to start filming.
When did you get your big break with The Vampire Diaries?
That came from The Secret Circle because Kevin Williamson produces both of them. After The Secret Circle was discontinued, I expressed how much I loved working for Warner Bros and [TV network] the CW, and would love to find a place in one of their shows. It was just kind of by chance there was a role in The Vampire Diaries that seemed suitable.
What's it like to be part of The Vampire Diaries phenomenon?
It's such a crazy thing. It has a huge fan base that is so invested in those characters and that show. It's exciting to be a part of it and witness it … the fans are what drive that show.
What do you do for fun?
One of my best friends, [actor] Teresa Palmer, and I are very passionate about healthy living and a natural lifestyle, so we started this website called yourzenlife.com. We only just launched it last week, so when I'm not working I am busy tapping away on the computer.
What is the website all about?
It is a scrapbook of different ideas, tips and tricks. We touch on everything from healthy living and exercise to spirituality. We also talk about eating organically on a budget and finding fresh local things without spending a fortune; just things that we personally like to learn and talk about.
How did you become friends with Teresa?
We were going to [the music festival] Coachella and we ended up in the same car for a few hours and we got talking and realised that we had very similar life goals and shared the same passions, and from then on we grew very close.
Do all the expat Aussie actors stick together in LA?
Yes, there is a bit of an Aussie situation. I know it's terrible, I go over and just hang with Australians - I could be in Bondi. [But] it's nice to be around people who are in the same sort of situation.
Will you stay based in LA?
At this stage, yes, but with this kind of job, you don't know where you'll end up.
Do you have a boyfriend?
That was subtle! [Laughs] umm, no.
What do you look for in a guy?
At the moment, a non-actor guy and, I guess, [someone who's] smart, nice and funny.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I'd love to still be working, whether it's here or overseas. I'm old-fashioned, so I guess I would also love to be getting closer to starting a family and getting married and all those things.
If you could play any character, who would it be?
I loved Gwyneth Paltrow in the The Royal Tenenbaums and Reese Witherspoon in Election. I love quirky films and characters like that.
WE WENT TO Hugos Bar Pizza, Potts Point.
WE ATE Quinoa and brown rice salad; grilled baby eggplant and sun-dried tomato with olive oil; shaved fennel, blood orange and pecorino salad.
WE DRANK Blood orange, strawberry, lime, apple juice and fresh-mint mocktails.
PHOEBE WORE Ellery jacket and top, Joe's jeans, Alexander Wang shoes, Jan Logan jewellery and Tan & Brown bag.