Greek Australian teenager Luca Asta Sardelis always had the acting bug.
Nevertheless, she could never have envisaged that at the tender age of 15 she would play one of the characters in the successful television series Barracuda, which recently aired on the ABC television network.
It all began four years ago, when Adelaide-born Luca attended an open audition at her school.
She was immediately selected by professional casting agents to be part of various television productions around the country.
“As any parent, my husband Bill and myself are both extremely proud of her and in awe of the opportunities that have come her way; she is an intelligent girl who works extremely hard for everything she has achieved,” says Luca’s mum, Helena Kouzapa Sardelis.
The talented young girl filmed the series in Melbourne last year, over a nine-week period.
Barracuda is an Australian television drama series based on the 2013 novel of the same name − by Greek-Australian author Christos Tsiolkas − which explores a brutal clash of cultures, dreams and expectations and the relentless demands that are placed upon young athletes, their families, friends, schools and coaches.
In this series, which is set in the ’90s, Luca plays Regan, the younger sister of the main protagonist, Danny Kelly.
“I play a young Greek-Scottish-Australian girl from a working class family, and my role is primarily to support or empower my brother’s status in comparison to the status and position of the rich boys at Danny’s new school.”
Luca describes the shooting as an amazing experience, where she was given the opportunity not just to act but to also experience what it really means to be part of a production, understand how it all works and witness the hard work and collaboration that goes into it.
“I love the cast and crew the most. The people that you meet are all so amazing, and while the whole process to creating a TV show or movie is so complex, they all make it work. Literally every day on the set was a learning experience,” she says.
But it’s certainly not all fun and games according to Luca’s mum, who has to leave home in order to accompany her daughter to various shooting locations.
“For the last two productions Luca had to be based in Melbourne, hence, I’ve had to leave my work and follow her there while my husband stayed in Adelaide with our younger daughter.
“We try to commute back to Adelaide and they try to come to Melbourne, but it has been difficult and we all miss each other terribly. I think it has been hardest on our youngest daughter, who has missed her mum and sister very much, but it has also meant that she’s grown up very quickly.”
Luca is currently in Melbourne filming her third production, Nowhere Boys, which will be completed over a four-month period.
“In Nowhere Boys, I play Nicco, one of the five leads who are all brought together by their discovery of magic. Set in the present day in the fictional town of Bremin, Nicco is a determined, all-rounded girl with a focus on her passion for soccer and her love of school. She is also my age and comes from a Greek family.”
Conveniently, Luca knows a thing or two about migrant families.
“We were born in Adelaide but my family originally comes from Aradippou, Cyprus,” says Helena, “and Bill’s family comes from Kalamata.
“Our children have heard endless stories about how their grandparents migrated to Australia with only one suitcase and one pair of shoes on their feet; I feel that knowing about their roots and culture helps children appreciate more all the things they have and the opportunities that come their way.”
Though grounded and focused, Luca still struggles with being away from school for a prolonged period.
“It is certainly not easy to combine acting and studies, but school comes first, and luckily my teachers have been very supportive in setting tasks for me in order to keep up with the curriculum and submit my work on time. My schoolmates have also been really cool about what I do and always encouraging.”
Hard-working, mature beyond her years and always smiling, young Luca seems to have a dream life that any 15-year-old would envy. Nevertheless, there are definitely a lot of sacrifices required in order to make it work.
“My advice to other mums and dads who are thinking of getting their children involved in the performing arts is to be sure that their children have the maturity and stamina for the work. We have always told Luca that school comes first and have allowed her to take on the workload because she is a very good student,” Helena says.
“Also, while it is very important for parents to be involved and to know who their child is working with, one must have trust in the production staff. But, above all, a child needs support. Support them when they are tired, make sure they have a healthy mind and healthy body, and sometimes, just leave them alone to unwind.”
Luca seems to be enjoying what life has to offer, while keeping her priorities correctly focused.
“I don’t know if acting is the ultimate career path I want to take; I’m open to change and opportunity and I certainly don’t wish to limit myself at this age.
“I also enjoy sciences, therefore when I leave school I might look at doing a double degree where I can combine science/psychology and an arts course. But that’s still years away,” she says.
With her two feet touching the ground, and supported by her Greek family, Luca’s future appears bright and promising.
All we have to do is sit back and watch her.