Grace Palmer plays dress ups professionally.
You may have seen her in Shortland Street, Home and Away or maybe the movie Adrift. Hannah caught up with her in Auckland recently and was blown away by her kindness, humour and passion for making the world a better place.
Read the interview below to hear about her life, becoming an actress and our very first EXCLUSIVE on the blog 😉.
How do explain what you do to strangers?
I play dress ups professionally. I pretend to be someone else and if I’m lucky - I get paid for it. However, as an actress, a lot of time is spent ‘fun-employed’. You have various other little side gigs that keep you running. You have to be passionate about a few things especially in this country, as it is pretty hard to be on back to back projects all the time.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Tai Tapu, south of Christchurch. My parents moved there before I was born and my immediate whanau have lived there ever since. It’s beautiful. My whanau is extended and blended. There are lots of us and we all have pretty big personalities. I wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re my best friends.
What does a normal day look like for you?
So eclectic, it is different every day. When I am on a job it is a little more consistent, but you’re still working on different scenes, with different people and in different places. The most consistency I ever had in my professional life was whilst on Shortland Street, but now it varies so much. My sister and I are in the midst of developing a TV series we’ve written, I recently shot a short film and I’m often auditioning.
I enjoy my lifestyle, I have come to terms with the fact that I find long term commitments quite daunting. Being tied to something can be slightly intimidating.
I think I may have ADHD to some extent. The other day I saw my Doctor regarding how fatigued I’d been feeling, and the diagnosis was that I’m probably just bored haha… I couldn’t believe it, I just paid someone to tell me I was bored. But I kind of agreed. I am high energy and if I don’t have enough on my plate I can become fatigued through lack of stimulation. Such a first world problem right…
When you were 15 what did you think you would be doing now?
Do you know what, when I was 15 I went and saw my school careers advisor…. she was the world’s worst careers advisor. When I told her I wanted to be an actress she laughed at me and said: “That’s nice, but you’ll probably wind up singing in a bar”. She only really had time for the students who were considering university.
I always wanted to be an actress. Since before I can remember. I was okay at a lot of things, but nothing made my heart sing like performing did. So, in my mind - it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when and how I financially support myself in the interim. I know this sounds cynical, but I really hope my kids don’t want to be actors. It’s bloody wonderful and rewarding when you have a job, but your entire career is in the hands of someone else, and so much of it is out of your control, which is why I love creating my own stuff. I’ve found so much joy in that.
Yes, I did picture myself being an actress at 15. It was sparked by my mum, dad and stepdad are who are all in television, so it was inevitable. And I am a show-off. My parents were/are incredibly supportive and that’s been an integral part of my journey.
How do you feel about the movement calling out celebrities and social media influencers to become more transparent and to hold themselves responsible for the messages they send?
I love it. I think we need to take responsibility for the repercussions of our actions, and how those actions may influence our following. I know I’m not changing the world, but I’ve always seen my outlet as an opportunity to make people laugh, and I like to think that I’ve always been the real me, warts and all. Like - how I live with chronic irritable bowel and can be out for a light stroll when I literally shit myself. I want to share the good stuff and the bad.
I’m really lucky to be sent such beautiful PR packages and I am truly grateful for them, but I don’t want my following to feel like they’re missing out, because materialistic things aren’t a sustainable source of happiness. Sadly - Instagram has given people a delusional perspective of the new norm. Young women are so impressionable and now think it’s normal to have perfectly manicured nails, blow-waved hair and all the time and money to fly a fuckin private jet to a private island and sip cocktails midweek. That lifestyle is not normal. So I think it is really important to shed some light on what life is really like and it is not all glamorous. When it comes to advertising, there is huge power in saying no, but that can be really hard - especially when there’s money involved. I get that, however, I’ve always been hyper-aware of selling my soul for the sake of a quick buck. I love people like Jameela Jamil, she’s the bee's knees. She’s constantly uplifting and empowering others, but isn’t afraid to call influencers on their bullshit.
I have this thing where I want to be inspirational, and motivational so people can be aspirational. It's about finding a healthy balance. There are awesome initiatives and big-hearted people out there, we just have to let them outshine the crap - like slimming laxative teas.
What is something you think people don’t know about you?
Exclusive for our readers…. I saw a rock on her finger ;) Grace gave me permission to say this.
I’m a vegetarian. I was a competitive Gymnast. I sing and song write. I used to play about 6 different types of recorder, even the big bass one with the strap – why my Mother didn’t steer me towards a more conventionally convenient instrument I will never know.
As an actress, what is your most favourite line you have had to say?
On Shortland Street I had to talk about examining someone’s penis, a medical thing, but it was hard to shoot that without corpsing.
What was the happiest moment of your life?
My little brother being born. I had three sisters, whom I love dearly - but having a baby brother was very exciting. I was such a tomboy and was desperate for a wee mate to play with.
Going to Disneyland for the first time - sad but true. I remember being mind blown. It was so fucking magical haha.
I recently made a conscious decision to acknowledge when I’m feeling happy and say it out loud. It sounds weird, but it’s been great for my mental health. I feel like in New Zealand there’s an expectation to be neutral all the time. Probably a derivative of Tall Poppy Syndrome, combined with the stigma around true vulnerability - where we feel psychologically stuck in this inoffensive median. I am very grateful for my friends and family who allow me to be my true self.
What is your biggest fear right now?
Not meeting my own expectations and birds.
We chatted about what this phobia is called so p.s. Grace, Ornithophobia is the fear of birds.
Who influences you?
1. My Mum - one of the most generous, altruistic people I have ever met. Always doing something for someone else.
2. Jacinda Adern – I am obsessed with her. We have mutual friends and I am trying to casually tee up a hookup. If anyone wants to invite me and her around for dinner at the same time… lol. She is super inspiring. For me - she represents hope. She is eloquent, articulate and kind.
3. Kristen Wiig – is one of my favourite acting inspirations, because she’s fucking hilarious. I’ve watched all her skits on SNL. She plays crazy loopy characters and to attempt that and put it out to the world requires a lot of courage. She looks like a bloody hoot.
What does beauty mean to you?
It is such a broad term, beauty. I think genuinely, the word I can associate it best with is diversity. Beauty is in the heart of the subject, and it’s often about how that subject makes you feel. I love that people can express themselves through products but can use other products so they don’t have to express themselves at all. I have a rigorous skin care regime so I don’t feel like I have to wear makeup. But I can totally appreciate the art of self-expression through makeup. I love that there is so much diversity in the industry. Beauty is colours, flavours, tastes, smells it’s in everything. I love that girls explore and experiment more - your look is your prerogative.
Appreciating the differences and uniqueness in people is beauty and someone’s personality can completely change the way you view their aesthetic. Imagine how dull this world would be if we all looked the same! So yeah… Diversity is probably the word to describe it.
Thank you Grace xx
We love Grace, she is a great role model for all, she is SO funny on her instagram and one to watch in the tv/movie scene.
Check out Grace's Instagram here. We highly recommend following if you like a laugh.
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