How Acting Darwinism Led To an Amazing International Career for Australia’s Linda Jean Bruno
“I adapt well to change. I think that has a lot to do with my upbringing and environment. I mostly grew up in restaurants; travelled a lot, and had minimal time with my parents…you learn to work fast, make the most of it, and adapt well to changes and changing people. My parents founded many restaurants in Italy and Australia, always working very hard. They were the most charming human beings I have ever known; absolutely loved people and were incredibly generous. They developed a flock of fans. When my father passed away, four priests held the funeral mass and the church was packed on all sides. As a child I couldn’t understand why there were so many people there. I still walk down the street and hear, ‘That’s Franco’s daughter’ or ‘That’s Teresa’s daughter” in both Australia and Italy. I was once given an exercise by a Casting Director to go up to strangers with the question, ‘Which famous person do I remind you of?’, to which they replied, ‘Your mother.’…not exactly the outcome this Casting Director had intended.”
While not unheard of for an Actor, Linda Jean Bruno’s story is anything but commonplace. Travelling and the notoriety of her parents instilled a sense of self-reliance and creativity; two characteristics which serve an Actress very well. When a production crew utilized her parent’s restaurant to film scenes for the feature film Proof, a youthful Linda Jean watched Oscar-Winning Actor Russell Crowe display what a professional film Actor does. Bruno was hooked. Interestingly, Linda Jean would receive immense international exposure via the same television production credited in achieving this for Crowe, Australia’s longest running program Neighbours.
Neighbours is an institution, an icon in Australia. It was inducted collectively into the Logie Hall of Fame in 2005. If there is any TV program created in Australia and known the world over, it most definitely is Neighbours. The show’s storylines concerns itself with the domestic and professional lives of the people who live and work in Erinsborough, a fictional suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. It focuses primarily on the residents of Ramsay Street and its neighbouring area, which includes the ‘Back Lane Bar’, owned and operated by Linda’s character [Maria Buraczek]. Being included in the cast of Neighbours immediately resonates with both the industry and the public. Linda Jean confirms, “This serial drama is a vital cultural export and you instantly feel the impact on foreign viewers and that huge Neighbours fanbase, particularly from overseas. I was definitely surprised at the speed and size of growth in my fanbase. I had Neighbours fans contacting me through my social media pages saying that they were really excited about my character. It was obvious that they had been Googling me as well, which took a little getting used to.”
Another pillar of the Australian television scene is The Doctor Blake Mysteries (distributed by the BBC). Bruno appeared as Carmella Colonna in this hit series which has been running for more than five years and has been recognized in Australia and as far as New York with awards for its excellence. Linda Jean felt particularly connected (via her own heritage and family) with the character of Carmella. A fiercely strong Italian woman, Carmella was portrayed as something vastly different than the stereotype of an Italian immigrant. Linda Jean reveals, “I felt a huge sense of responsibility in portraying Carmela, not only because of the integrity of the show, or the vast number of viewers it brought in but I wanted to portray her with honesty. This is something I had to fight for a little but I really believed in my version. The director [Fiona Banks] had called me in to see what I wanted to do. She threw some improv at me to see what I would do with it in the scene. It was exhilarating, because I had completely embodied Carmella so the improv came naturally. Working with an Award-winning director like Fiona is a blessing. She really aided in the development of my career and how I would approach roles from that point on. There were experiences leading up to that moment but it was really at that time that I had a different appreciation for the way I wanted to approach a character. Fiona opened that door and gave me permission to say that there’s a different way we can approach this.”
The profession of a modern Actor is most certainly eclectic. While Bruno has appeared in numerous films at the movie theatre, she was also seen in a piece of pre-show entertainment that blanketed cinemas across Australia. Follow Linda Jean’s Journey was created by DDB Sydney (the most awarded Australian agency at Cannes) for the City of Melbourne as a marketing campaign to celebrate the city’s unique character. DDB (whose clients include: Westpac, McDonald’s, Volkswagen, Virgin Australia, Skoda, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, BT Financial Group, Society One, and Barilla) cast Bruno in this $1.5 Million campaign titled “ Visit the Land of Inbetween” featured on the streets and screens of Melbourne, with a range of advertising including print, outdoor, online, and social media. It seems that wherever you go in Australia, Linda Jean is somewhere close. There’s something universally appealing about her. Her ability to communicate an identifiable persona with relatability (and tremendous talent) is the reason Australian audiences and, with increasing frequency, international audiences are seeing more and more of Linda Jean Bruno.