On the Couch with Belinda McClory

Belinda McClory AAR On the CouchWho is Belinda McClory?
I am an actor and voiceover artist living and working on the lands of the Boonwurrung people in Melbourne with my husband Jon, who is a filmmaker, and our French Bulldog Barney.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I would do the same thing, minus the anxiety. I love my job – it basically lets me channel all the crap I have inside my head into something that’s socially beneficial AND I get paid for it. But the older I get the more afraid I am (which is so stupid because theoretically I am at the top of my game after doing this for over 40 years). I’m about to play a big, fat, juicy role written by one of Australia’s best playwrights and I’m pretty nervous about it. But it makes me feel alive. And it’s an amazing feeling when you get it right.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m constantly inspired by the young people I work with. They are passionate and talented and approach the work so differently. I trained over thirty years ago, so I’m always interested in fresh perspectives and learning new ways of working. Fortunately post #metoo thanks to a few extremely brave people in this country, my workplace landscape is changing for the better and I’m glad of that. It’s a safer, more diverse, more inclusive environment now and that can only make our work much more powerful.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I always try to conduct myself with kindness. I think it’s a vastly underrated quality. A simple kindness can change a person. And empathy is key to my craft.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Whenever we had money, Jon and I would always go to Paris because it’s so good there and the food is too – but more recently we have discovered Tokyo. It feels amazing to be amongst a day population of 33 million people! And the food and culture are spectacular. These days though, I’m very happy to campervan around Victoria with Jon so we can take Barney with us. In terms of travel, my best friend calls Barney “the chocolate hand brake”.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
We love Melbourne’s incredible food culture, so it’s restaurants are our star attractions. My old school go-to’s are Pellegrini’s, Supper Inn and the Waiter’s Club. If we wanted something a little more fancy it would be Gimlet, Supernormal or Kisume. Our best “secret places” include Shira Nui in Glen Waverley for its amazing omakase bar and the Divine Deli in Elsternwick for Hussain’s incredible coffee and huge falafels.

What are you currently reading?
I always have a bit of a pile beside my bed that makes me feel guilty. Reading is such a luxury for me, I never seem to have the time but I do love disappearing into a great story. Right now I’m reading Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad. It’s a powerful, beautifully written story about a London based Palestinian actress returning to Haifa after several years absence, who is persuaded to play Gertrude in a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. It’s stunning – exploring connection to place and family and about finding a new sense of self.

What are you currently listening to?
My running track, which is a few years old now and could do with some new songs! It’s mainly upbeat “keep going” music – Sza, Jay Z, Kylie, Nicki Minaj, but there’s also some slower tracks by Massive Attack, Billie Eilish, Mahalia and the Blaze. I’m also listening to Leonard Cohen a lot as Famous Blue Raincoat features in Things I Know To Be True and it really helps me tap into Fran’s deep sadness that has shaped her and consequently her family.

Happiness is?
Happiness is morning coffee in bed with Jon and Barney. Lying in the dark and listening to them snoring beside me. Swimming in the Ionian Sea with my best friend. Taking a bow on opening night. Having a glass of wine in the bath. Starting a new book. Watching Jon cook. And then eating it. Hearing I got the job. There are many things to be grateful for!

What does the future hold for you?
I never really know what’s next and that’s what I love about my job – it’s blue sky potential. I have been a criminal, a cop, a forensic psychologist, a lawyer, a meter maid, a prostitute, an alcoholic mother and the ass end of a horse on stilts – the list goes on! Whatever the future holds for me, I hope it includes being lucky enough to do more good work with good people and spending 25 more years with my husband.

Belinda stars in Things I Know To Be True by Andrew Bovell at Theatre Works, St Kilda, from 19 April – 4 May 2024. For more information, visit: www.theatreworks.org.au for details.

Image: Belinda McClory (supplied)