Inside ACA’s Foundation Program with Melanie and Raffie

Today, we have the pleasure of delving into the lives of two talented acting students who are making the most of their time at ACA. Meet Raffie Meaney and Melanie Clarry, who are nearly ready to graduate from our 20 week Foundation Program.

Through this interview, they share their experiences, offer advice for aspiring actors, and reminisce about their favourite memories from ACA so far.

ACA: How did your acting journey begin?

Raffie: If I’m being honest, my acting journey sort of started as far back as preschool. I was always that kid who would be off in the corner playing role-playing games with their friends, such as “House” or “Bus Driver”. So that’s where it really began, as it was the first time I was fully given the chance to develop and explore my passion for the performing arts.

Melanie: I was cast in a small role in Heath Davis’s film Book Week and returned to work with him for another small role in his recent film Christmess.

ACA: What inspired you to apply to ACA?

Raffie: Attending drama school full time has always been a lifelong dream of mine. However, since I had only just graduated high school, I wasn’t sure if 3 years full time was something I was entirely ready for yet. So when I attended ACA’s Open Day, it was so refreshing to hear about not only the Foundation Program, but also the culture and various initiatives that ACA had involved themselves with. So often I find drama schools can get so overzealous about their various facilities and previous alumni. So to hear a school place their focus on demonstrating the education they seek to provide future students is what encouraged me to apply to ACA.

Melanie: I attended NIDA for their short courses, but didn’t apply to audition for full time studies for the Diploma or Bachelor Degree because their hours would affect my job for my own financial support. Then I was recommended to check out ACA by Susan Prior. I applied to the Accessible Acting Program to see if I enjoyed the experience before considering applying to the Foundation Program. And I did!

ACA: Why did you choose ACA?

Melanie: Because of my inspiring experience attending the Accessible Acting Program taught by Troy and Nicola. I felt as if I finally found a great amount of support and inclusiveness, and they both strongly encouraged me to apply for the Bachelor’s Degree or the Foundation Program.

ACA: What’s a typical week like in the Foundation Program?

Melanie: Chaotic fun! Combat, Mask, Movement and Voice blossoms our quirky side and tons of wholesome laughs, sometimes some of us get pleasantly sore abs. Other classes have brought us great curiosities and we crave for more knowledge. There’s so much joy in learning theatre and screen that we never wanted it to end!

Raffie: A typical week in the Foundation Program is best described as an eclectic, educational, hands-on experience. The classes are all so diverse, and it can take a few weeks to actually start to see any resemblance or commonalities between them. Some of the classes admittedly may intimidate or cause you to dread showing up that day. But I can promise you that in my experience, over time you will really begin to appreciate what you’re being taught. And even in those moments when you find yourself far out of your comfort zone, you’ll still manage to have outrageous amounts of fun in the process.

ACA: Can you share a particularly memorable experience so far?

Raffie: Perhaps one of my most memorable experiences I’ve had thus far was the entire rehearsal process leading up to our Shakespearean sonnet performance. Being given the chance to be completely free creativity wise, leads to some incredibly hilarious and nonsensical moments. And while sometimes admittedly the amount of progress we made was minimal, being with such a supportive and accepting group of people meant that I never felt judged or ashamed to share ideas. Even if they didn’t end up materialising like how I thought they would. 

Melanie: Too many! Tons of goofy moments when we were being silly rehearsing for our sonnets and making an omelette exercise together in Mask.

ACA: Any shout-outs for a particular teacher or fellow student?

Raffie: If there was ever a chance to shout out a particular teacher it would have to be our Lecoq teacher Justin Buchta. In the beginning, it took a while to get used to his classes, as they were so far removed from what I thought acting could be. But his passionate, eccentric and unique personality, coupled with his sheer level of expertise, made his classes something I looked truly looked forward to each week.

Melanie: Danielle as Yelena and I as Sonya from Uncle Vanya in Realism.  Giulia, Mo and I having fun in a scene from Twelfth Night. Katie and I paired to do a mirroring exercise in Movement. Sydney, Raffie and I were fighting to not break characters when we were playing a dysfunctional family in improv.

ACA: What kind of career do you dream of post-ACA?

Raffie: I suppose the kind of career I dream of post ACA is just to be as active and involved in the industry as possible. It can be really tricky to predict where you’ll end up in the future, especially in the acting world. But I suppose that I do not really have any preference as to where I’ll be acting, as long as I’m given the chance to perform whether it be on stage or on screen, that is the place I feel most at home.

Melanie: Acting career in films and television sounds like a dream. However the experience on script analysing in creative state and realism classes shifted my interest to a writing career. I need to keep on improving my writings (especially my horrendous grammar) potentially to make film and theatre scripts. I want to share my stories growing up and navigating the hearing world as a deaf person. There’s so much to explore the perspective of deaf and or hard of hearing individuals.

ACA: What are three tips you would you give to someone auditioning for ACA?

Raffie: The biggest piece of advice I’d offer to anyone looking to audition for ACA would be to be present. If you turn up to the audition as the most authentic version of yourself , that can be the very thing that may set you apart. Auditions can be some of the most vulnerable and daunting things you will ever encounter. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that the audition panel actually wants you to succeed more than anything.  


  1. Question yourself why you want to do acting.
  2. Does this program suit your time commitment, financial support and the overwhelming amounts of subjects?
  3. Have confidence in yourself and pick the monologue that attracts your interest and you deliver the character to life rather than you being you.

Thank you so much to Melanie and Raffie! They’ll both be taking centre stage for the Foundation Showcase this June. Keep your eyes peeled on ACA’s social media for that official announcement.

Learn more about the Foundation Program at Actors Centre Australia.

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