Having been brought up between Australia and Austria, actress Jana McKinnon has recently played the lead role in Helena Hufnagel’s Silver which was released on Prime Video. Here, she talks about the meaning of home, her latest projects, and more.   

DISCOVER GERMANY: How did you become an actress? Did you always know want to be one? Was there a moment that sprung to mind?  

Jana McKinnon: Acting was something that came into my life at a very young age, and quite randomly. A friend of my mother studied directing at the Vienna Film Academy and asked me to be in her short films when I was about five years old. I remember being so excited when I got to wear a school bag for the film, even though I was too young to go to school myself.

DISCOVER GERMANY: Why is acting your dream profession? What do you love about the job?

Jana McKinnon: The one thing that excites me most about being on set is the incredible amount of skill that everyone brings to the table. It is such a massive communal effort to make movies. I‘m just in awe of how people make them happen against all odds, it is truly like a little miracle every single time. My favourite thing is watching everyone on set, doing their thing. I don‘t know if there is another industry where so many people from all different backgrounds come together to work so intensely on creating something. To tell a story that might move someone, someday. It‘s amazing.

DISCOVER GERMANY: Your father comes from Austria, your mum from Australia. What does ‘home’ mean to you?

Jana McKinnon: I had quite the nomadic upbringing for the first years of my life, really. We moved between Austria and Australia quite a bit. It‘s kind of funny that through acting I get to continue this lifestyle- constantly travelling, moving around, adapting to a new temporary home multiple times a year. I‘ve become quite good at adapting to these changes, but after a few years of living out of my suitcase now it might be time to get myself a more permanent base again.

DISCOVER GERMANY: What do you love about Austria? And what do you miss about Australia?

Jana McKinnon: Austria has truly spoilt me with its incredible amount of cultural offerings. I love how cherished arthouse cinema is in Vienna, there are so many beautiful old cinemas with great programming. I am also a huge fan of the nonstop cinema subscription; it makes going to the cinema so accessible. In general, I feel like Austria makes a great effort to keep the arts financially accessible. This mentality doesn‘t really exist in Australia. But I love it for other things: the quality of life, the amazing food, the sunshine, the incredibly beautiful natural world. My favourite thing to do in Australia is to go on hikes, chasing waterfalls and wild swimming spots.

Jana McKinnon: “Austria has truly spoilt me”

DISCOVER GERMANY: Your favourite place or activity in Austria?

Jana McKinnon: When in Austria, I indulge in sitting in the Kaffeehaus. Or I go knocking on my friends’ doors who all live very close, so that we can sit in the Kaffeehaus together and discuss what is going on in the world and in our own lives.

DISCOVER GERMANY: To what extent do the film landscapes differ in the two countries? Could you imagine moving to Australia for a longer period of time to work?

Jana McKinnon: There isn‘t a huge difference I think. There might be a slightly more easy-going attitude towards challenges on set, and better working conditions. The locations are usually a beautiful treat; it‘s very special to discover the most beautiful parts of the country through shooting a film or a show.

DISCOVER GERMANY: What film shoot do you remember most fondly and why?

Jana McKinnon: I‘ve absolutely loved most of my filmmaking experiences, and I love them all for different reasons. It‘s hard to say which shoot was my favourite!

DISCOVER GERMANY: You play one of the main roles in Helena Hufnagel’s Silver. What makes this format so special? What can viewers look forward to?

Jana McKinnon: What I appreciated about Silver was that despite it being internationally released on a streaming platform it was a feature film and not a series. I love making and watching series too, but to me, there is something so comforting about the classic format of an entertaining 90-minute film. I had a great time shooting this with such a wonderful cast and director, and amazing sets built by truly creative minds.

DISCOVER GERMANY: What did you love about the production the most?

Jana McKinnon: We were shooting Silver in Dublin for the most part. I had a fantastic time exploring the city and countryside on my days off with my co-stars, and felt quite drawn to the Irish music and culture of storytelling. As there were quite a lot of stunts in the film, I got trained at a stunt school before shooting commenced. That was something I hadn’t done extensively before, and I enjoyed it so much that I actually reconsidered my career path for a moment…. just a brief moment. But: it did make me get my scuba diving certificate after the shoot was over, because I enjoyed the underwater work so much!

DISCOVER GERMANY: You’re currently shooting in Australia. What’s that format all about?

Jana McKinnon: I‘m currently on set for the second season of Black Snow, starring Travis Fimmel, in Queensland. It is a show about an oddball detective solving cases of missing persons. This season we see him investigating the disappearance of Zoe Jacobs and of his own brother.

DISCOVER GERMANY: What else is planned in 2024? Are any other exciting projects planned?

Jana McKinnon: I‘m going to shoot a comedy in Berlin in summer. I am super excited as it‘s a format I‘ve never really dabbled in before!

DISCOVER GERMANY: What other dreams and wishes do you have?

Jana McKinnon: I just really hope that I can keep working and developing my skills. There are so many people I admire that I would love to work with one day.

Jana McKinnon: “Austria has truly spoilt me”

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