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'Curiosity motivated me to travel. The moving part was never planned.’

Gems in this
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Gems in
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Feature by Michael Canning

Starting out in the acting business at just 12 years old, Sibylla Deen’s career has taken her from her native Australia to the USA, China and New Zealand. Based now in LA, she has needed little time to make an impact on the movie and television scene.

Sibylla’s recent work includes a starring role in the acclaimed miniseries Tut alongside Sir Ben Kingsley, the Emmy-nominated TV series Tyrant and feature film Lies We Tell with Gabriel Byrne and Harvey Keitel. We spoke to her about life in LA and some valuable gems from her experience.

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On where you’re from

Hunters Hill, Sydney

On where you’ve living in LA

I live in Beachwood Canyon, up a very steep hill. It’s near the Hollywood Sign. It’s quintessentially LA.

On why you moved abroad

Curiosity motivated me to travel. The moving part was never planned, it just kind of happened.

On whether your image of LA changed once living there

Yes, and it continues to. I never realized it was so big.

Sibylla Deen stars in acclaimed miniseries 'Tut' alongside Sir Ben Kingsley. Images courtesy Paramount

On current projects

A TV series called The Last Ship on TNT. And a British indie film called Lies We Tell with Gabriel Byrne and Harvey Keitel.

On a favorite role recently

Playing the Queen of Egypt along side Ben Kingsley was an incredible experience. I lived in Ouarzazate in Morocco for six months, which was magic.

On what you’re up to today

I’ll drink three espressos before I do most things. When I’m home in LA, I love to do house work, sweep the floors, do my washing. I know, you think I’m mad… but it’s rare. I really like my washing machine. I have to do some press interviews for my movie that is about to come out. I will go up the hill to the Beachwood Cafe for eggs. Might walk the reservoir or up to the Hollywood Sign. See friends, have more coffee.

On the best thing about living abroad

I think the challenges; it’s never easy. You are always up against something. The landscape changes and you can go wherever you please.

‘Curiosity motivated me to travel. The moving part was never planned, it just kind of happened.’

On how LA inspires you

I have a lot of friends in LA who are actors. This may sound silly, but it’s so helpful to have people to run lines with, do self tapes with who get it. I think the nature of the city having so many creative people is how you get your inspiration.

On the acting communities in Sydney and LA

The nature of the work is different — the way the industries work, the opportunities. America is still the epicenter, but you are able to tape and work from just about anywhere in the world now, which is great. I love Australian film and TV and would love to come home and work on something.

Sibylla Deen in LA.

On life overseas and actors

I think getting out of your comfort zone, exploring, meeting people from different cultures broadens you. I think most actors are like kids — they have that fascination and that goes hand-in-hand with travel.


On where you go for inspiration

I go to Bart’s Books in Ojai (which is an hour out of LA). I sit on the ground and read for hours. I also love the Los Feliz library.


To see theater, I go to The Geffen, but keep an ear out for other smaller things. To be honest just getting out of the house in LA to do something is a victory in itself. Point Dume to swim, drag my feet through the sand and talk to the seals; the rides at Santa Monica Pier, to just to let go — and the view is fabulous; the GRAMMY Museum or LACMA.

On whether it’s good having an accent

Yes, because that’s who you are, and I think most people in LA find Australians endearing. People also like to guess where you are from, so it gives you an edge.

On a new phrase you’ve heard in LA

‘That’s clutch’. My friend Lucy Armstrong taught it to me. I really like it. You use it as a phrase of exclamation said when you receive exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. ‘The other day, I was really hungry but thought I had no money on me. Then I found five dollars in my jacket pocket — that was clutch.’

On something people should do when they arrive

Go eat sushi in a strip mall. All the best sushi is in these random carpark-looking things. Katsu-ya in Studio City is my favorite.

‘I would say the city’s untapped resource is guest houses; many large homes have sweet little self-contained places out the back or to the side that they rent out for a good price.’

On a must-know LA tip

Uber is really cheap. And if you have a car, ARCO has the cheapest gas.

On finding a place to live

I think the best thing is asking friends, but if you don’t have them, there are great Facebook groups, like Aussies in LA. I used Airbnb initially. I loved the place I was in and asked if could rent it long-term. If you are alone, I would say the city’s untapped resource is guest houses; many large homes have sweet little self-contained places out the back or to the side that they rent out for a good price.

On something to be prepared for

Traffic. The city is very big and you spend a lot of time calculating which is the best time to get from here to there.

Sibylla Deen stars in recently released feature film 'Lies We Tell', and acclaimed TV series 'Tyrant'.

On a must-have item for you

Nespresso machine.

On something you wish you’d been told

The water is gross! The drinking water, I mean. I go to a special shop called The Water Plant and buy alkaline water.

On visas

I have an O1, so if you are an actor, get that. I think if you have a body of work behind you, it is relatively simple to apply for a Green Card. I guess my advice would be to get a good immigration lawyer. 

On your favorite bar

The Friend.

On your favorite restaurant

Squirl.

On a gallery to check out

LACMA.

On great theatre

The Geffen.

On your favorite store

Ragdoll LA.

On your favorite place to be

In my garden, with coffee, at about 8.30am.

On where you find good coffee

My house. Or I like La Colombe or I go to Zinqué.

On LA in one word

It’s a very big city (sorry, that’s not one word). Big.

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