Mackay-born actor stars in Monster Fest film festival
A MACKAY-BORN actor who never gave up on her "big dreams" is now starring in a movie premiering at the Monster Fest film festival.
Growing up in Andergrove, Lauren Hamilton Neill said she was proud and honoured to play a ghost in comedy horror Dead People Problems.
The short film will make its Australian debut at Event Cinemas across Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney on November 8.
"Monster Fest is dedicated to horror films, supernatural based films, anything to do with other worlds," Ms Neil said.
"It's such an incredible achievement to even get in.
"I still have to pinch myself that it's real."
Ms Neil also recently starred in drama-thriller A Remarkable Career that is still doing the rounds on the festival circuit.
She said it was remarkable to have fulfilled her dream of working alongside actor Zoe Carides.
"She is one of the rare breeds of women that truly just champions other women," she said.
But despite her success, Ms Neil said her journey from Andergrove to the big screen had been tough including with the industry's recent #metoo revelations.
"I have nearly given up so many times because it just seems like the obstacles are insurmountable.
"There's a real misconception that for a female driven story to be interesting, that it has to be based in using female trauma as its origin story and unfortunately it's still something that's really hard to fight against.
"That should not be something that's used as cannon fodder for entertainment.
"But you can either sit around and become disgruntled or find people who want to make their own content.
"If you start doing that, then that increases your confidence, it boosts your own enthusiasm, determination and drive and that can only result in good things.
"At the end of the day, if you have something that's been such a constant in your life, something that fills you up, makes you deliriously happy when you're actually doing it - you can't give up on it.
"Fortune favours the bold."
Ms Neil said her parents had been "ridiculously supportive" of her career that took root at the age of five with drama classes.
"I count myself as one of the luckiest people in the world to have parents who believe in me," she said.
She said the high school years were difficult as her lofty dreams made her a target for bullying but she persisted to afterwards enjoy an "incredible education" at CQUniversity's Conservatorium of Music.
"There are some incredibly talented people in Mackay and I feel blessed that I got my start there," she said.
"If you know what you want, and why you want it, that will get you through anything.
"It's just about having passions and a belief in yourself … and having people around you that believe in you as well."