On screen with Dea Doglione

Authenticity is at the heart of what local actress Dea Doglione brings to Neon’s new Christchurch-based crime drama. Metropol writer Alicia Carr caught up with Dea to find out more about her journey to our television screens.

Dea’s character Sally Galletly and lead character Joe, a seemingly innocent cleaner by day and vicious serial killer by night, make a gripping duo in the series Dark City: The Cleaner’, based on novels by Christchurch author Paul Cleave. Dea describes Sally as Joe’s “best friend whether he likes it or not”.

The Ōtautahi native says that coming across as believable is a job made easier because she was born and bred in Rolleston. “Back when there were a mere four houses in the area, and kids would run around in dirt piles for fun,” she laughs.

Dea attended Lincoln High School, as did her mother and grandmother before her, a humble upbringing of stark contrast to her life now.

Dea’s passion for television has always been clear. “When I was a teenager, I used to sit and watch TV all day because I just loved it. I loved seeing characters realised. I found myself wanting to know everything about how they wrote it, how they made it, why they did this, what this meant,” she explains. The chance to pursue a career in TV and “realising that it is an actual job, an actuality for someone who just grew up in Rolleston,” has been a dream since those early days.

After graduating from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts (NASDA) with a bachelor of performing arts, Dea moved to Auckland, searching for opportunities in the TV industry.

It was there that she landed the audition for Dark City: The Cleaner – her first ever TV audition – and eventually secured the role of Sally Galletly.

Somewhat poetically, Dea’s breakout role brought her back to her hometown of Christchurch for filming. She explains, “It is so funny that I moved from Christchurch to Auckland for work and then my first job brought me back. It feels very full circle. It feels like the universe is saying, ‘Yes, this is correct, but don’t forget where you’re from.’”

Dea’s return to her home city was her “mother’s dream”, and an opportunity to reconnect with her roots. Okains Bay, Sumner, and New Brighton are among her favourite spots to visit in the province, saying that having grown up visiting these stunning pieces of water as a child, she now feels a deep connection to them and often returns now, when she needs a reset.

Her deep local roots provide valuable insight into her character in the series. Sally Galletly is “a version of my younger self”.

Dea wanted Sally to be real; a bit unconfident at times with a wavering voice, someone viewers could connect with.

In her portrayal of Sally, Dea was inspired by her role model and fellow actress, Olivia Colman, whose determination, honesty, and authenticity are qualities that she believes the TV industry needs more of, and that she tries to embody. “I am interested in women that are honest and real, and want to play characters that give other women a chance to be seen for who they are, not for the idealised version of themselves, but for who they are right now. We need more of that.”

Such a raw and real approach portraying Sally may have made her, as an actress, less likely to be seen for diverse future roles, but it was a risk she was willing to take. “It is fun to be underestimated, I have realised, because I can’t wait to prove them wrong,” she declares.

This is a mindset Dea is holding on to as she looks to take the next steps in her career, hoping to expand her horizons by taking her art overseas. Ambition aside, home will always provide a powerful pull, and supporting local creation, particularly in Ōtautahi, will always be a priority. “As the job reminded me, I must always come home. I must always bring my skills home.”

Dea’s tips for young actors:

“Work hard. Learn your lines. Respect the crew and the people around you. Champion your friends. We are all in this together, and they will champion you in return. And just be nice, it’s not hard.”

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