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Rising Star Laneikka Denne of ‘DEAD SKIN’ On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

An Interview with Edward Sylvan

You are in control. Whatever you’re creating, whether that be acting or physical tangible scripts you own that. That is your brand, your copyright and entirely yours. No matter how much people freak you out or try to offer you things and you feel desperate. Remember that you’re in control and make the decisions that are best for you and your creativity.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Laneikka Denne.

Laneikka Denne is an award-winning actor and writer from Western Sydney. She wrote her debut play DEAD SKIN at seventeen, which was awarded the State Theatre Company x Flinders University Young Playwright’s Award and premiered at Kings Cross Theatre in 2021, published by Australian Plays. Laneikka is the recipient of the Diversity Entertainment Creative Mentorship 2022, her play DEAD SKIN will be performed in LA and Off-broadway in New York while she works on a feature film adaption of the play with Diversity Entertainment, LLC. She has also been shortlisted for the Emerging Playwright Canberra Commission. Her debut short MITSUKU was selected by ScreenJam Productions in the UK to be produced in 2022. Her short screenplay Oi was awarded Open Screenplay’s Best Short Drama Award and is in pre-production with Office Dog Productions in Sydney. Laneikka acted in the national tour of FOLLOW ME HOME with Australian Theatre for Young People and is currently Sally in Netflix’s ‘Wellmania’ She is producing a program called THE MONOLOGUE COLLECTIVE where teenagers write monologues for teenagers to perform for the HSC, supported by Create NSW, the Rodney Seaborn Foundation, Australian Plays Transform, CWA NSW, PYT Fairfield, and KXT. Young queer women are at the heart of all of her work, as she seeks to represent real women with agency and intrigue.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of the Blue Mountains in Australia. My life couldn’t have been further from the arts. But I found the people I lived near more interesting than anyone I’d ever seen represented in theatre or on screen. I went from thinking I was going to be the next Taylor Swift by repetitively competing against my “tone deaf” grading on sing star to acting and writing. Something I am actually good at. My mum would be just as happy if I worked at a supermarket though. That’s a real insight into the sort of place I grew up. There were kangaroos in my backyard through!

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Let’s just say I’ve always been a feeler. My mum said that when she took me into one of her therapy sessions when I was a newborn if she would cry, I would cry. The therapist had never seen a baby do that before. I still cry all the time lol. When I got to school I was a self-proclaimed “mute”. My kindergarten teacher thought I was deaf and asked my mum to get me tested because I was immensely drained and anxious from any sort of social interaction and therefore severely bullied. My mum is the opposite of a stage mum, she just wanted me to start speaking to people who weren’t my family and so I ended up in an acting class. Reading and conversing through a script took away all the anxiety I felt about social interaction. Scripts taught me that humans respond to things in such a variety and complexing amount of ways. I became obsessed with human psychology and the hypocrisy and complexity of our behaviour. So acting became my thing and then writing… I want to understand people and help them resonate and I think that’s why my work is being shown globally. I like to make people feel their feelings and empathy is at the core of everything I do.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I think the story I am currently living is extremely interesting. I was told to pack my bags and bring my Aussie play to LA for a bit. That’s insane. I wrote it at seventeen in my bedroom. It’s now in another country and I’m here with it. I’m incredibly grateful and I take in every second of every moment that I can existing and making art in new places.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started I was hilariously serious about being an “artist” I thought there was a set amount of work and physical struggle I had to endure to make art. That’s silly. The more fun I have the better my work is and most importantly the better my mental health is. I’d just encourage every artist to have a FAT LAUGH and realise how utterly amazing but silly this entire industry is.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

WELL I'M IN LA MAN. So that’s pretty cool. Straight after this interview, I’m going to the theatre to act in my play DEAD SKIN. After we finish the LA run the company is taking the play off-broadway in NYC and I’ll be adapting the play into a feature film. I’m ready for DEAD SKIN written by a teenager for teenagers to finally make young queer women feel heard and seen on screen and within the theatre. I’ve also got a BUNCH of films and tv stuff I can’t talk about cause I’m #phamous.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Everyone fails. Luckily for artists, our job doesn’t involve life or death stakes. If we act terribly in a scene no one dies, if we don’t land the “dream” gig they’ll be another one right around the corner. I think failure is a word that is used waaaaaay too much as a definitive final response to an event. Life is fluid. Failures become stories that lead to something else. So stop putting a full stop at the end of every bad feeling, just embrace that a good feeling is just around the corner.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

As a young queer woman, I don’t exist on screen. Diversity Entertainment have empowered me to have a global platform to tell my story. The more we feel people like ourselves existing in the fictional, digital and real-world the more we can appreciate ourselves. Representation is the catalyst for self-love. Diversity Entertainment is a company that wants to support artists like me to help others feel heard and seen.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You are in control. Whatever you’re creating, whether that be acting or physical tangible scripts you own that. That is your brand, your copyright and entirely yours. No matter how much people freak you out or try to offer you things and you feel desperate. Remember that you’re in control and make the decisions that are best for you and your creativity.
  2. Make friends not networks. I don’t care that you want to know people. I don’t care that you want to propel your career forward. If every conversation you have with someone is about what you want out of them, I think you might be a psychopath lol. Make friends enjoy the wave of creating art and meeting like-minded artists. If you meet people and they’re super huge famous icons but you don’t like them. Move on and make some solid artist friends.
  3. You are only in competition with yourself. Everyone comes from different circumstances that allow them to get to the place they are today. Focus on your circumstances and challenge yourself to be the best you can be because I can assure you Meryl Streep isn’t thinking about your career xoxoxo
  4. Always work out why. When you’re working on art projects you invest quite a large portion of your time, psyche and emotional world. Don’t work on things that don’t feel good. Work out why you create art and be specific. If you’re doing this for fame go on TIK TOK. When you have a strong why for what you’re creating you’ll endless want to reshape and work the art you create.
  5. Don’t end goal a career that’s all about process. Have goals but soak up EVERY MINUTE you’re living and existing with great art. If you’re doing this for a CV credit, when will you get enough CV credits to finally be happy? Probably never.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Whatever industry you work in, work is not life. Work is a segment of your life and how much work you do is all up to you. I hate to say this but YOLO (ew) you actually live once. You’re not going to be on your deathbed being like I didn’t finish that film script. Make the art you want to make but if it becomes work move onto a different idea or go hang out with another human face to face and get inspired by the people who made you start making art in the first place.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Creating art for women to feel celebrated is what I’m all about. I want characters that speak like actual human beings on screen and the stage. I want to make the arts accessible for everyone and I think the way to do that is just to create the art you want to exist.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Kim Hardwick. She was the director of the original production of DEAD SKIN. She took on my play at seventeen and helped me learn how to value my work and identity. She’s a collaborator for life. I’m so thankful for her.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Even Brad Pitt goes home and does a poo. HAHAHHA That’s my quote! We’re all just human and status isn’t real. Embrace others, know the value of your work but treat everyone as an equal to yourself, not below or above.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Miranda July. The woman thinks I’m crazy. I’ve sent her ten follow up emails to try and get her to get coffee with me while I’m here. GET MIRANDA JULY TO CALL ME BACK PLS. She’s actually god-tier within female filmmakers and performances artists.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m on Instagram www.instagram.com/@laneikka and check out my website www.laneikkadenne.com everything I’m doing ends up on both of those!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group

Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group

Specializing in acquiring, producing and distributing films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subjects

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