By Elissa Friday
A break-up, a new love, business upheaval and triumph. ELISSA FRIDAY talks with Geelong actress and acting teacher Sarah Grace about her new life, including a very special one on the way.
Sarah, we wish you a belated happy birthday. Do you mind if I ask your age?
I actually turned 35 yesterday.
Where did you grow up?
In Geelong but I spent four years in Michigan during my primary school days while dad was working for Ford over there. I went to Grovedale West Primary School and Grovedale College over here.
I also did a primary teaching degree and acting training over in the states.
Do you have siblings?
I have a younger sister and younger brother. My sister’s two years younger and my brother’s four. We’re all pretty close. Claire lives in Geelong and Steve lives in Melbourne.
How did you get into acting?
I loved acting from a very young age. I really got into it during primary school and ad a great music teacher, Mr Dandy. I loved his classes and he encouraged some of us to audition for Les Miserables was back in 1995. I got a part and played the character of a little Cosette, which I loved so much.
From there I did a few more musicals locally, The Sound of Music and Annie, then I started getting into the film and television side of things.
What are some of the best things about acting?
I really enjoy the challenge of playing different characters and stepping into their shoes. For my first TV role I played an alien who wanted to take over the world, ha-ha.
In the drama series Blue Heelers I played a character who held up a cop at knife point. I then played the character Bridget, from Winners and Losers. They’re all been completely different roles.
Overall, I love how the industry is so collaborative and everyone’s so passionate about what they do.
Who’s your favourite actor?
I love Daniel Day Lewis and seeing what he’s going to do next. I also love Meryl Streep – she’s so skilled. They’re both highly skilled and have a great sense of play and creativity in what they do, which is what I like.
How’s your hosting on Bay FM going?
I started at the beginning of last year. The format of the show’s great, and it’s a really nice thing to be a part of. I love that it’s Geelong-based and you get to meet so many people who are doing great things.
Getting all the guests in on the Catch Up is a really nice collaborative community. It’s a bit of a different skillset but improvisation applies in radio, too. It’s been good to learn from the team.
When did you set up your acting studios business?
I started the business as Moore Grace Acting Studios with my ex-husband back in 2004 while we were doing teaching degrees at Deakin University. We also studied acting in Los Angeles.
The idea for the business came from wanting to create a space for kids and teens and adults to really express themselves and their creativity, and especially for if they wanted to get into film and television work. Over time we realised that it was delivering more than what we had expected because it was helping the students build their confidence, too.
What’s new since re-branding to Grace Acting Studios?
My ex-husband and I broke up a few years ago and I re-branded to Grace Acting Studios. I have a fantastic team within the business and it’s been a real growth period. I love it more than I ever thought I would.
We now specialise for kids and teens, from grade one up to year 12. I love having the creative control over where we are headed. I really enjoyed stepping up, from what was a managerial to a leadership role.
You must have been thrilled when Grace Acting Studios won this year’s Geelong Business Excellence Award for customer service.
It is our first award and we’re really excited about it. It was good to get that recognition for the team. It was a long application process, which I worked on with my really great marketing manager.
Offering exceptional customer service is what we have been working on. We’re dealing with pretty awesome customers though, overall.
Where did you and your new partner, local hairdresser Adamo Di Biase, meet?
We were actually in a production of Annie back in 1997 when we were kids. It’s hilarious to think of that now.
Much later on I was watching a show he was in at GPAC and we caught up afterward in the foyer. He was also interested in doing some acting classes.
Our businesses are located close to each other, so we’d often catch up for lunch and over time found that we had a lot in common.
We started off as friends, then became a couple, and later we decided to start a family.
Congratulations on expecting your first baby.
I’m 24 weeks along at the moment, and it’s been really great.
I didn’t get morning sickness, which I was really thankful for. It’s all been really smooth sailing so far, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s really so lovely knowing you have this little person with you all the time.
We’re having a boy, but we’re keeping the name a secret for now.
Clothes have been a bit tricky, as I’m growing all time.
You both must be excited for parenthood and the future.
I don’t think anything really ever prepares you. I do really like people sharing their stories with me. You can never really prepare, but we’re really excited.
We make a very good team. I’m pretty lucky with Adamo – he’ll be hands-on and a really great dad. Family means a lot to us and we’re entering into a time of our lives where it really is the centre-point for us.
In terms of the business, it’s in a really good spot and I’m looking forward to it evolving.
What do you both like doing in your spare time?
I started yoga four years ago and love it. I must say it’s been good during pregnancy.
Also, we’re addicted to watching Game of Thrones. We’ve only just recently got into it, so we feel a bit out of date because everyone got into the series quite a while ago, ha-ha. You could say we’re catching up.
Adamo also enjoys teaching his dance classes and he’s also in a theatre production at the moment, which he has a lot of dialogue for.
Sarah, do you have any guilty pleasures?
It would have to be ice-cream and pasta. Baby likes pasta!