In a dazzling ascent from fresh-faced drama graduate to the star of back-to-back television series,Shalom Brune-Franklin is taking on the world, challenging stereotypes—and herself.
“I’m glad that there is opportunity for all, that there is a shift in mindset, that says yes, you can play that role."
It’s hard to pigeonhole effervescent young actor Shalom Brune-Franklin. Born in the UK to a Thai-English father and a Mauritian mother, Brune-Franklin moved to Perth, Western Australia, when she was 15. “My parents wanted more, so they moved across the world. Something happens when you uproot yourself and move to a completely different place away from people you love,” she reflects, drawing on her own more recent experiences of living and filming overseas. “It’s so scary and daunting, but it makes you. A lot of my friends have moved away from home. It creates a likeness in people.”
Brune-Franklin trained at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (“Dad took out a loan for me and told me to go chase my dreams”), where she won the inaugural Chris Edmund Performing Arts Scholarship set up by Hugh Jackman for the most outstanding performer. Upon graduating she was named by the Casting Guild of Australia as one of its 10 Rising Stars, as well as twice being named a finalist for the Heath Ledger Scholarship, chosen by Gary Oldman and Ryan Murphy. She wonders whether some of her early success may have come about because of a certain naivety on her part. “The idea of being an ‘actor’ was never an actualised thought for me,” she says. “Even when I was at drama school, it was just a thing I loved doing—it didn’t feel like work. I didn’t understand what acting was yet in its form and craft. I didn’t know Shakespeare. I was like, Why are we doing this shit? I didn’t have the respect that I needed to be taught. I wasn’t nervous and it was an advantage. The teachers loved me at the beginning because I was raw. It’s taking shape now, though. I’m harnessing it into something more powerful.”
She was quickly spotted by renowned writer Tony McNamara and cast in the Australian series Doctor Doctor, followed by a move to the UK and her role in the BBC drama Our Girl. She is currently starring in Arthurian fantasy series Cursedon Netf lix and will soon be seen in Roadkill, a new four-part political thriller written by David Hare for the BBC, as well as starring in the next season of the BBC police procedural Line of Duty. A dream run for a 26-year-old in an exciting era when actors are being cast for their talent and not stereotyped. “I’m glad there is opportunity for all, that there is a shift in mindset that says yes, you can play that role. At a final audition, all the people in the room will be from different backgrounds and the roles are not written specifically for a person of colour,” Brune-Franklin says happily. “We are all here at the table because we all have something the director or the producer likes. It’s cool.”