Mitzi Ruhlmann was five years old when she saw Phillip Noyce’s Stolen Generation drama Rabbit-Proof Fence, perhaps not an ideal experience for someone so young, but it had a profound impact.
From that moment on she was determined to become an actor, not a far-fetched ambition for a girl who spent a lot of time on film and TV sets watching her dad, cinematographer Danny Ruhlmann, at work.
(Ruhlmann Senior’s credits include the features The Nugget, The Night We Called It a Day and Little Fish and, most recently, the Netflix series Messiah, created by Aussie Michael Petroni and co-directed by Kate Woods, and Jupiter’s Legacy.)
Last month the 21-year-old came home after seven months in LA auditioning for numerous roles. She’ll go back in February for pilot season.
Since she was 12 she has had a manager in the US, Jennifer Gabler Rawlings, whom she met when the American visited Sydney. In turn, Rawlings introduced her to her US agent Gersh.
“I’ve got very close to landing numerous roles in The States but it usually comes down to something fickle,” she says.
Her last big gig was in Reckoning, a 10-part psychological thriller produced in Sydney by Playmaker Media for Sony Pictures Television Networks.
The Seven Network has acquired the California-set series which stars Aden Young as a cop and American Sam Trammell as a serial killer. Her character is Amanda, the daughter of Aden Young and Simone Kessell’s characters. “It’s more of a whydunit than a whodunit,” she says.
‘Boys in the Trees.’
It was her fourth collaboration with the set-up director Shawn Seet following Playmaker Media’s The Code and Hiding and the Foxtel series SLiDE.
When she was 11 she made her screen debut in Home and Away playing a character named Rabbit, an imaginary friend of Miles (Josh Quong Tart).
In her first feature, Nick Verso’s Boys in the Trees, she was the female lead opposite Toby Wallace and Gulliver McGrath.
Next came Damien Power’s horror/thriller Killing Ground, in which her character Vicki triggers the barbarous acts by hunters played by Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane.
Her latest movie is Bilched, a teenage romantic comedy written by and starring Hal Cumpston and directed by his father Jeremy. She played Lucy, a sweet girl who serves as a touchstone in the growth of Hal’s character.
“I read the script, which was really impressive, and auditioned,” she says. “I met with Hal and Jeremy and they were both so intelligent and inspired and motivated. I was really happy to be a part of it.”
In between acting jobs she works as a nanny. “It is impossible to have unwavering faith in an industry where you are constantly told ‘no,’ but I love Australian cinema and will definitely keep working here if I am given the opportunity,” she says. “I grew up on film sets. In a way it’s my home.”