Alumna Hanneke Talbot is making waves in the entertainment world. From GIS’s Class of ‘10, Hanneke is a Netherlands-born British-Canadian actress who played Lieutenant Mann in episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, amongst other up-and-coming roles across film and TV.
Having attended GIS from the age of 6, until leaving Sixth Form at 18, Talbot is evidently proud of her Malaysian roots. After all, it is in Malaysia that she began to pursue a career in acting, before moving to London, where she graduated from the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and then began her film and television career in Canada.
To date, Talbot has nabbed acting roles in several films and series including ‘Titans’ (2019), ‘Ready Or Not’ (2019), and ‘Supernatural’ (2019). Recent work includes FX Networks, ‘A Teacher’ alongside Kate Mara and Nick Robinson.
We were fortunate to be connected with Hanneke who told us a little more about her journey post-GIS.
Please tell us a little more about yourself.
Hello! I’m currently living in Toronto, Canada. I moved over here soon after graduating from drama school as I found there to be more work opportunities for me here than in the UK. I’m hoping to eventually move to Los Angeles next as the weather there is much closer to Malaysian weather, which is what I crave. No roti canai there though, unfortunately! I love reading, exercising, listening to podcasts, any animal, and have a particular affinity for Italian Cuisine.
You spent a lot of your childhood in Malaysia- what was that like for you?
I am so grateful for my childhood in Malaysia. I was there for 12 years in total and I consider it my home. My parents and family still live there and I visit home as much as I can. I think growing up in Malaysia has given me a lovely gift of being able to relate to people from many different walks of life. I am particularly grateful at how GIS celebrated every nationality, every religion, and every cultural holiday, so I was able to learn about cultures and religions other than my own. I love how colourful and interesting it has made my life.
What drew you to the entertainment industry?
Ever since I was young I’ve been obsessed with storytelling, human behaviour, and the exploration of the two. I also love to entertain and make people laugh. I think people love film/theatre/television because we sometimes see ourselves reflected in characters or stories; it’s also nice to get a mini-vacation from your own life and delve into a show. There are so many beautiful nuances and complexities in the human experience; I just love that I get to explore them. I also love learning new things and each role gives me an excuse to dive into a world and life completely different than my own. You get to be a detective of sorts.
Please share with us your fond memories at GIS
There are so many! I wouldn’t know where to begin. My English teacher, Ms Pow, was a real cheerleader of mine and really encouraged me, not only in class, but just generally as a person; to be myself and to reach for the stars. Ms. Lewis was incredibly maternal and felt like a fairy god mother of sorts. Ms. Lee!- who made my AS and A2 level Drama such an adventure and pushed us to work hard. And Ms Leng, for injecting her love of books into me.
Most of my childhood was spent at GIS, so it’s difficult to pick out specific moments. I quite often dream about walking across the field with friends or hanging out on the basketball court. It was lovely to feel part of a tribe! I think that’s what I miss most- the simplicity of having your friends around you, and working towards your future without the pressures of adulthood. My time at Garden is very close to my heart.
Describe GIS in 3 words
Inclusive, Dedicated, Encouraging.
How did studying in GIS shape who you are today?
I think my biggest takeaway from Garden which I’m very grateful for is the Asian work ethic. Although we were taught a British curriculum, I was surrounded by so many hard-working students, and it wasn’t until I moved to the west that I realised the dedication and commitment to education wasn’t at the forefront everywhere.
I learnt how to work my butt off at Garden, and I have definitely found that to be a useful asset in my adult life. I was also encouraged to be ambitious; I didn’t feel as if anything was off-limits and I think that’s a wonderful thing for a young person to feel- that the world is their oyster.
What are your plans for 2021 and where will we see you next?
Thankfully, things are starting to look up and we seem to be getting more good news than bad in regards to the pandemic. I have a very exciting project coming up in the next couple of months that I am unfortunately not able to talk about yet, but I promise I’ll keep you posted! That’s a funny reality in my profession- you often aren’t able to talk about what you’re up to until it’s been publicly released. I’m also currently working on my own screenplay, and a podcast too.
What would be your advice to our current students who may follow your footsteps or choose the same profession as yours?
What I’ve learnt in my years since graduating is that you cannot endgame and skip the hard part of the journey. There are so many paths ahead that you won’t be able to see now. My advice would be to know the time you’re in now is so precious, even though everyone tells you that and it may not feel like it. Enjoy the freedom of youth and the exciting hope of what’s next. Your life will not always feel like it does now. You don’t have to have all the answers now, and trust me that the biggest lessons will be in your failures. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; you’ll never grow otherwise.
My advice to any student who may want to enter the acting industry is to know that the lifestyle and reality of this career are not for everyone. There are so many unknowns and a lot of sacrifices and you’ll need to have a truckload of resilience because the reality of the profession is that you will receive a lot more ‘no’s’ than ‘yeses’.
My advice would be to go to University or Drama School and study something that you are passionate about because who knows where it could lead you? My parents always encouraged my siblings and I to study something we were interested in. You’ve got the rest of your life to work and pay taxes, so why not study something that makes your heart sing? And if you don’t know what you want to do, that’s ok too; dive into something and try it on for size.
A huge ‘Thank You’ to Hanneke for sharing her journey with us. We are excited to see more of her on our screens in the future!
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