Born in Sydney, Australia on July 22, 1983, Sharni Vinson was raised in Cronulla Beach in New South Wales where she began singing, dancing and acting at a young age. She is best known for playing the role of Cassie Turner on the long-running Aussie TV soap opera "Home and Away."
At just 17, she was signed to Roadshow Music to become a member of the R&B band, Foxfire IV. In 2008, she relocated to Los Angeles and was immediately embraced by the entertainment industry, booking guest roles in "NCIS," "CSI: NY," "My Boys," and the pilot for "Austin Golden Hour."
After an extensive search for a leading lady with amazing dance ability, Vinson landed the coveted lead role of 'Natalie' in Summit Entertainment's Step Up 3D, which was released in August 2010. The plot revolves around a tight-knit group of New York City street dancers who found themselves pitted against the world's best hip hop dancers in a high-stakes showdown that would change their lives forever.
In 2011, Sharni starred in "Blue Crush 2" for Universal Studios, the follow up to the hit film about a group of girls who worked as waitresses and chamber maids to finance their passion for surfing. Last year, she starred in the action- thriller "BAIT 3D," a disaster flick about a freak tsunami which traps shoppers inside a coastal supermarket along with a herd of hungry sharks.
Besides performing, Sharni is also an accomplished athlete, having represented New South Wales at the National Swimming Championships. Here, she talks her latest film, "You're Next," a horror flick co-starring AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Nicholas Tucci and Wendy Glenn.
Kam Williams: Hi Sharni, thanks for the opportunity to interview you.
Sharni Vinson: No, thank you so much, Kam.
KW: I really loved "You're Next." In fact, I'd have to say it's the best horror flick of 2013 so far, in a great year for scary movies including "The Conjuring," "The Purge," and a few others.
SV: That's great!
KW: And in my review, I don't reveal any of the shocking developments, since this is a picture that has to be seen cold, with no knowledge of its unpredictable twists and turns.
SV: I agree. The element of surprise is everything.
KW: How would describe "You're Next" in 25 words or less?
SV: As not your typical home invasion horror movie. It takes place at a family reunion where things quickly turn very dramatic. Basically, we all have to fend for our lives in the house. I don't know if I can say too much more than that without spoiling it.
KW: That's perfect. I loved your breakout performance. Your character Erin's spunkiness very much reminded me of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of "The Hunger Games."
SV: Thank you. We wanted to keep the character likable, relatable, and still very strong and tough, so she'd be a very positive, female role model. There's nothing in her that's out of the ordinary in the sense that she's not a superhero with superpowers. She's just doing what she has to do in order to get the job done. I like the role for me and for the general audience because I think it shows how important it is to learn self-defense. So, I hope people can come out of this film getting into that more.
KW: I know you were a nationally-ranked swimmer as a teenager, so you're already very athletic. But did you have to do any specially training for this physically-demanding role?
SV: Not really, because there wasn't any time. We shot this film over four weeks, and I only had three days of training in the lead-up to rolling the cameras. So, it was very important to the producer and director to find a girl who was already physically capable of stepping into a role like this. And thanks to my swimming and dancing and very competitive sports upbringing, I had that physicality ready to go. So, we were more or less focusing on certain exact skills like reaction time, boxing, agility exercises, and how to twirl a knife and a fireplace poker. That was really a lot of fun. But overall, we devoted more time to developing the mentality of the character than her physicality.
KW: I noticed that a number of your fellow cast members, like Joe Swanberg and Amy Seimetz, are members of the Mumblecore movement here in the U.S. Are you familiar with Mumblecore?
SV: I really am not. It's really a whole new experience for me, which has been so great, because Amy and Joe and Ti [West] are not only amazing actors but also incredible directors to this specific horror genre. It was mind-expanding to be able to work with them on a project of this scale. Having them on the set, made the director's [Adam Wingard] and the rest of the cast's work so much easier. I thought I was learning from the best with them.
KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: How do you prepare for and detox from a blood-and-guts thriller?
SV: It's funny, because so many people assume it must have been a horrific experience making this movie. But because we were there every day, shooting on a night schedule from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m., bonding as a cast and watching how the prosthetic department put the props and blood and gore together, it was actually so much fun. It wasn't scary because we were privy to the inside gag of how you create movie magic. And that just became the running joke on the set. You can't help but laugh when you're eating dinner at 1 in the morning next to someone with an arrow sticking out of his back. It was all so light off-camera, yet when we would roll, we would literally snap from a laughing, singing and joking moment into a totally serious mood. So, it never was scary during the film, just very entertaining because we were having such a great time.
KW: You started out as a singer in the R&B group Foxfire IV. Are you still singing?
SV: I started out learning all the different aspects of the entertainment industry: singing, dancing and acting. It was very much put to me from a young age that it benefits you to be a triple-threat in the business. I come from a line of performers in musical theater, my mom and my grand-mom, who encouraged me to train in all three areas of the arts. So, now it's second nature in me, and I always keep those options open. At different points in my life, one has overtaken the others, but the great thing about acting is that you can find a way to incorporate any skill you have into a role. I've done a dance movie, maybe now we can do a musical. That would be really cool.
KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
SV: Oh, man, that's hard to say, because anything classic-classic almost should not be touched. But sometimes you feel the passion that you'd like to be in that movie yourself. I'm not suggesting it needs to be remade, but if they ever redid "A Chorus Line," I'd love to play Valerie. Who knows? Maybe one day. [LOL]
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
SV: No, I've been getting a lot of questions lately that even I wouldn't have ever thought of.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
SV: "Conversations with God."
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
SV: "Blurred Lines" with Pharrell and Robin Thicke.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
SV: Anything with a lot of garlic and a lot of chili, like a Thai chicken vegetable stir-fry. You'd be lucky if you can find the other ingredients under all the garlic and chili I use.
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
SV: Roberto Cavali.
KW: Haven't you done modeling, too?
SV: No, that's a bit of a myth. I read that in the press a lot, but I don't know where that came from.
KW: The Mike Pittman question: What was your best career decision?
SV: Moving to America.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
SV: The person I always wished I could be.
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
SV: I would like to be able to fly.
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
SV: Making all my cousins, even the boys, get dressed-up in these ridiculous outfits every Sunday, and then have them sing and dance for the family.
KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there something that you promised to do if you became famous, that you still haven't done yet?
SV: Yeah, I haven't bought a house in Hawaii yet, and that's been my dream for a dozen years now. I want my first house to be in Hawaii.
KW: You should've done a little house hunting when you made Blue Crush 2.
SV: I wasn't there then. The original was made in Hawaii, but the sequel was shot in South Africa.
KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
SV: A mole. I already am a mole in every sense of the word. Nothing gets past a mole. They're like spies and detectives. So, the question's not if I were an animal, since I'm already a mole.
KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
SV: I already said I'd like to fly. Do I have to pick another? Invisibility would be a good one.
KW: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would that be?
SV: Something working with animals, like animal rescue. I'm very passionate about animals and the ocean. Maybe marine biology.
KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: Do you believe that with great power comes great responsibility?
SV: Yes, I believe it's very important to be a positive role model. And yet, no, to a degree because you also can't merely live your life purely from the aspect of "How will this affect others?" It's like a balance. You have to take the public image into account, but not let it rule your life.
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
SV: I'm very involved with the Guide Dog Association in Australia. I have a chocolate Labrador, and we do the walk every year to raise money for that. I also work with the World Wildlife Foundation.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
SV: Never give up! Most of life's biggest failures are people who didn't realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. If you believe that you were meant to do something, then you were. So, persist with it, have some patience, and stay true to your own beliefs. Don't let others make decisions for you.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Sharni, and best of luck with You're Next.
SV: I'm so glad you liked it, Kam. I really appreciate that.