Former Clarence Valley Anglican School student Sabeena Manalis in one of two scenes in which she appears in the hit series Underbelly: The Golden Mile, that will be screened tomorrow night on NBN.
Former Clarence Valley Anglican School student Sabeena Manalis in one of two scenes in which she appears in the hit series Underbelly: The Golden Mile, that will be screened tomorrow night on NBN.

Grafton girl stars in Underbelly

TOMORROW night former Grafton girl Sabeena Manalis will feature in two scenes of the hit television series Underbelly.

For many of her friends in the region this would be the high point of their lives, but the ambitious 19-year-old actor hopes it is just the beginning.

“Underbelly, for me, is a massive eye-opener and the beginning of my career,” Sabeena said.

“It opens a lot of doors and has given me a lot of experience.”

Sabeena plays Natalie, the love interest of John Ibrahim (Firass Dirani), and appears in a steamy skinny dipping scene filmed at Vaucluse beach in Sydney Harbour last June. She is also part of a scene outside a nightclub in Kings Cross.

“The beach scene was filmed before shooting of the series began and it was just me and John and the film crew on the beach for a couple of hours at Vaucluse,” she said.

“The night club scene had a lot more of the actors in it.

“I’ve been a fan of the Underbelly series, although I haven’t seen all of the shows.

“I think this series is going to be a bit of a change away from the sex and concentrate more on the story.”

Prior to Underbelly, Sabeena has worked in a number of short films, some advertisements and as a model.

“I’ve done a lot of training, but this pretty much my first acting role,” she said.

The Underbelly role has been the turning point for her career as she has now won a chance to do 16 weeks of acting training in the USA at the TVI Actors Studio Hybrid Conservatory in Los Angeles.

“This is only a study visa, so I can’t audition for anything,” she said.

But she is sure she can make acting her career.

“I have come from a family of musicians, so all my life being in the entertainment industry, whether it be singing, dancing or acting, was always a given, I think,” said Sabeena.

“I am extremely strong-headed and determined, so the fact that this is the hardest industry to succeed in doesn’t phase me.

“Everyone says it is such a big pool.

“Well, the way I see it is you’ve got a whole pool of fish wanting to be actors, only half of them will put in the effort and do something about it and from what’s left most of them give up because it’s too difficult.

“It’s the people who keep pushing through that succeed.

“I think that as long as I am realistic and have other skills and another career to supplement my acting then I definitely have a chance.”

Sabeena is the daughter of Yamba Cinema owner Debbie McCredie and would like nothing more than to one day star in a movie in her mother’s cinema. “That would be exciting,” she said.



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