It’s a story made for Hollywood dreams – Sydney litigation lawyer becomes a movie star.
But such is the fate of Russian-born Aussie actress Liliya May, where the one-time economic and law degree Sydney Uni graduate now graces red carpets with more regularity than most lawyers would approach a bar.
“I’ve always acted, or acted out…” she smiles at her early thespian beginnings. “As a child, I went to a ballet school – and was always putting my hand up to entertain a crowd with a song, a poem or a dance – even if it was just for a few guests!”
Such drive eventually found Liliya outside the steps of the Screenwise Film and Television School. There, under the tutelage of mentors such as Denise Roberts, she blossomed into a fully-fledged working actress – cutting her teeth in short films, student projects and independent features with devoted discipline customary to her homeland.
“People think that you can get ahead through some special connection within the industry and that it’s easy… and I don’t know, maybe some people can. But I don’t have any special connections and have always had to work very hard to get my self seen and cast,” she says. “An actor’s job goes well beyond just acting. We have to market ourselves, go to auditions, attend acting classes to keep our skills warmed up, network, negotiate, research what’s going on in the industry, read scripts and the list goes on. Once all that is done and you’re on set in front of a camera, then the actual acting starts.”
The hustle has certainly paid off – amongst other things, she has starred in Australian films, as well as being a bona-fide TV star in Russia across a slew of leading roles.
“I loved working with the Working Dog productions on the feature film Any Questions for Ben?. This team are a beast – they are behind such iconic films as The Castle and The Dish. I’m also waiting with anticipation for the release of the second season of a TV-show called “Vyzhit Posle” (Survive After) where I play one of the lead characters.”
The first season enjoyed phenomenal success in Russia, with talks of now being adopted in The States.
In the last three years, she has lived on three continents – Australia, Africa and Europe. “If I’m in Sydney, I like to start my day with a Bondi to Bronte walk, elsewhere, I’ll go to a gym. I religiously drink coffee at least once a day, and use this ritual for catching up with friends or doing some work on my computer. I attend meetings and auditions. When I’m actually filming, I have no social life at all. I often get up at 5am and don’t get home till 10pm. But I thrive on set, so I don’t even realize how exhausted I get until the project is finished.”
So what drives Liliya to keep up such a frenetic pace?
“What I love most is diversity. And that applies to everything – people I work with, places we film at, the roles and the genres. It really keeps me on my toes, and I love that. I am never complacent in this job and am always challenged in one way or another. I also love to travel and I love languages – at the moment I am learning Spanish and French. In Nairobi, I am involved in an Australian run charity “Empowering Blind Youth”, and am sponsoring a girl to help keep her in a specialized school.”
With such a busy intercontinental schedule (not to mention the commitment of philanthropic work), how did we get so lucky to get Liliya to pose for us?
“I have seen Stonemen evolve from strength to strength since they were a baby… from it’s conception to birth to its rapid growth now. I know the amazing people behind the brand, and love what you did with it – infusing your fun loving spirit and aesthetic into the brand. It’s sexy, simple, cool, young, fresh, laid back…and basically all things Australian.”
Check out more of this babe at liliyamay.com.
*Liliya wears the Palm print in a women’s cheeky cut.