Canberra-born actor Irena Reedy brings ‘Another Story’ home | HerCanberra

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Canberra-born actor Irena Reedy brings ‘Another Story’ home

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When the pandemic ground life to a halt in 2020, it also pressed pause on one of the biggest industry towns in the world – Los Angeles.

Canberra-born Irena Reedy was among those actors whose work disappeared overnight. The challenges that followed have now inspired her short film, Another Story, which Irena will host a screening for this Friday 10 May at Daramalan College, her alma mater.

Irena moved to the States at age 17 with her family, but says she always felt the pull of Hollywood.

“LA was always my dream…In Grade 12, Dad came home and told us we had an opportunity as a family to move to Washington, DC for a couple of years, and when I say I JUMPED, I LEAPED at the idea.”

Irena studied Arts at Chicago’s DePaul University then moved to New York City to study at the renowned Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. Then, she finally felt ready for Los Angeles, travelling there to undertake a two-month course with the Stella Adler Academy of Acting. She never left.

Then, in 2020. The world came to a standstill.

“In March 2020, we were scheduled to film a completely different script called Picture Perfect, but the week we were meant to film, was the week that COVID put Los Angeles in lockdown. My mental health rapidly declined during this time and I experienced a lot of shame around not feeling worthy of love or the life I was living.”

It was this period that sparked the idea for Another Story.

“It has been a lot for me to unpack and something that I still continue to work on every day,” says Irena. “I wanted to bring normality to these feelings and start a conversation – mental health illnesses increased over 200% since 2020 and I felt a duty to myself and others to be someone who others could look to for support. I want people to know they have community, even in their loneliest and ugliest moments.”

“I wrote a rough draft and brought it to Ashlyn Pearce (my director and co-writer), and after several hours of rewrites and an entire writing retreat, we found our final script for Another Story. We were so proud of ourselves because we felt like we had achieved the dialogue we wanted to convey – there is no ‘good guy or bad guy’. Life is a ROLLERCOASTER. It’s messy, it’s complicated, and sometimes, there are no easy answers.”

Focused on a couple facing the raw emotions and challenges of mental illness “without glamourising it”, Irena explains the duo wanted the audience to “walk away from the film feeling understood, seen, an even a little confused about who they felt empathy…”.

The pandemic also loomed large over the film’s production, with timings pushed out by 20 months but Irena says it was all worth it in the end.

“The delay was honestly a blessing in disguise and really brought a new layer and meaning to our film. This was also Ashlyn and I’s first time making a film together so the whole journey was a learning experience. But to be able to sit back and watch our film on the big screen for the first time at our premiere was the most magical and fulfilling experience. I have never been more proud of myself and Ashlyn for what we achieved with this film.”

“The reception has been phenomenal and had been such a blessing to be able to share this with the world. Not only was our film showcased at different film festivals around the world, the personal messages Ashlyn and I have received are the reason why we wanted to share this story.”

“I received a message from a girl in the audience at one screenings saying, “thank you for making your film… it made me feel less alone in what I am going through… just know that your film made someone feel a little more ok.” And that sort of response is more than I could ever ask for.”

Irena Reedy and Ashlyn Pearce.

Despite the challenges of the past five years, Irena says Los Angeles still has her heart.

“Living in LA has definitely not been easy – there is a grind and hustle that isn’t glamorous and pretty. It’s the literal definition of blood, sweat, and tears. But the hard work and moments of wanting to give up have never outweighed my love for this city and my love for acting and filmmaking. To me, it’s all worth it.”

As for what’s next, after the Canberra screening this Friday, Irena is back in Los Angeles to tackle her next project.

“Ashlyn and I are teaming up again to create another film which is complete 180 from this one, but still aiming to challenge stereotypes and gender roles. We are filming another short film (which we are aiming to turn into a feature next year) called Cinder-Ellie, which is a dark comedy/thriller.”

You can find out more about Another Story’s screening here and follow Irena’s journey to create Cinder-Ellie here.

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