Imagine being stuck on a deserted island with a bunch of strangers. Teenage strangers. It’s either your worst nightmare or the genius plot for new Amazon Prime Video TV series, The Wilds.
Part survival drama, part dystopic slumber party, the series follows a group of teen girls from different backgrounds who must fight for survival after a plane crash strands them on a deserted island.
The castaways both clash and bond as they learn more about each other, the secrets they keep, and the traumas they’ve all endured. There’s just one twist to this thrilling drama… these girls did not end up on this island by accident.
The US production, which premieres on Friday, December 11, stars three Australians including, industry royalty, Rachel Griffiths. The other two, Shannon Berry and Mia Healey, are relative newcomers.
While you have certainly seen Berry before — in Offspring — this epic role is the very first for Healey, who was working as a receptionist at a Sydney hotel when she found out about the audition.
“I graduated NIDA [National Institute of Dramatic Art] and then got an agent,” Healey said during an interview with The Latch. “I was working as a receptionist in a hotel and I got the email at the front desk. Yes, I was checking my emails (laughs). Then I got a callback and I was like fuck it. I’m just going to go to LA and do the callback.”
As for Berry, even though she had worked on an iconic Australian show before, at the time of her audition, she was working the counter at a local McDonald’s in Melbourne.
“I was talking to [writer] Sarah Stricher while doing callbacks from the McDonald’s break room,” Berry admitted during the same interview with The Latch.
“Everyone’s rushing around trying to find me while I’m talking about my character, writing notes down on a scrap piece of paper in the break room. Then I booked it and I’m like, ‘See ya, Maccas!'”
A “dream job” for both, The Wilds is the type of series they both wished came out when they were younger.
“I think one of the things that drew me to the show, and why I think a lot of people are going to resonate with it is because we all have gone through that,” Healey said.
“It’s so incredibly powerful in owning your own right as a female and being able to see so many different women go through so many different things,” Berry added.
Here, Healey and Berry talk to The Latch about being women in the entertainment industry, what they learned about female camaraderie, and what it would be like to see the show picked up for a second season.
Anita Anabel: Congratulations to you both on The Wilds. I know people are really going to love it. What an amazing opportunity for both of you!
Mia Healey: It’s such a dream come true and was honestly the role of the lifetime. It’s so cool to be involved and be a part of something that was so incredibly written by women, for women. And meeting such a wonderful cast who are all so unique and bring their own point of view into the role and to the world, it’s just so cool to be a part of.
AA: Why do you think this audience will resonate with audiences?
Shannon Berry: It’s something that I’ve always said to myself during filming, that it’s a show that I needed when I was growing up.
It’s so incredibly powerful in owning your own right as a female and being able to see so many different women go through so many different things. And when I watched the show, I can look at each character and see a bit of myself in them and their experiences, some that I’ve gone through and can relate to.
I think as a teenager, that would have been so incredibly important for me to see these strong, powerful women in their own right, get through a situation as terrible as being on a deserted island, but also healing and moving on from their past and learning to accept what has happened in order to grow into something beautiful.
MH: I think the teenage girl experience is so easily dismissed by people and I think a lot of people blame the things that women go through when they’re in those formative years of puberty or just high school or on other girls or whatever it is. There’s always a way that people find to dismiss that experience.
I think one of the things that drew me to the show, and why I think a lot of people are going to resonate with it, is because we all have gone through that. Men and women, we’ve all gone through that. We know what that feels like to be in high school and go through these sorts of things. And I think it just validates those emotions and those experiences.
AA: The series really explored females from all walks of life coming together. What did it teach you about female camaraderie?
MH: I was quite nervous about going into a show with eight girls because I haven’t had a lot of girlfriends in my life. So that was something that I was kind of worried about. What it taught me, I think, is that I’ve realised just how much I love being around women and how the experiences that we share together and just the understanding [of one another]. We’re very empathetic people.
We just lean on each other and that that sense of camaraderie is just born from that place of empathising with one another, which I didn’t really realise before in my life until this show.
AA: Your characters are very different from the two women I’m speaking to. Could you relate to your characters, Dot and Shelby, at all?
SB: I related to Dot in the sense that it’s hard to, as you will see, for Dot to kind of find her people and she’s never really had the opportunity to find friends and find her people and people to lean on and support and heal her. I definitely related to Dot in that sense.
When I was growing up, I did find it really hard to find my people and especially at school and just learning to accept that not everyone is going to like you.
But since doing the show, I feel like I’ve now found my people in Mia and the rest of the girls.
AA: You guys are like the Pitch Perfect cast. They all love each other.
MH: We do! We have all of these group chats going. It’s seriously amazing.
AA: How important it is it for you both to play strong female roles in this industry, particularly at the moment?
MH: It feels super empowering. I mean, we really are just so blessed to be given this role. It is the role of a lifetime, a job of a lifetime, because of this reason. I feel really privileged for this to be my first job out of school and go straight into such a supportive and safe environment to be creative, and do what we love and without any fear. That’s something that I’ve really appreciated. And I know that I’m really privileged to experience that.
SB: And that’s such a testament to you, Mia. Because working with her, I would have never known if she hadn’t told me that this was her first professional gig.
AA: Oh my gosh! That is so true. I couldn’t believe it when I saw this was your first role, Mia. How did this come about for you?
MH: I graduated NIDA and then got an agent, Clinton at CBM, and then I got sent a self-tape to audition for The Wilds. I was working as a receptionist in a hotel and I got the email at the front desk. Yes, I was checking my emails (laughs). Then I got a callback and I was like fuck it. I’m just going to go to LA and do the callback.
So, I went to LA for five days. I landed, did the callback, had a few meetings and turned around and came back.
AA: Meant to be! What about you, Shannon? What’s it like being a young woman in this industry?
SB: Oh, God. It’s incredible to think that I am such a small part of this industry and I have gotten to work with so many incredible female professionals. I think it’s so important to have these fully fleshed out and developing characters because a lot of the time females, unfortunately, in cinema, fall short to their male counterparts, or they are only there to aid the story of them.
So, to now finally, to be in the forefront… that’s why I told myself if I didn’t get this show, I would absolutely be kicking myself later. Such a rare opportunity to finally be the centre of our own stories and have them written and played by incredible women.
AA: Have you been picked up for a second season?
MH: We do not know.
SB: Fingers crossed.
AA: Shannon, what about you? You were in Offspring, one of the great Australian shows. How does it differ from The Wilds?
SB: Oh, it was an incredible opportunity to work with Asher Keddie and Kat Stewart and they were absolutely just so brilliant and welcoming, and I just learnt so much from them.
I feel like that role really kind of prepared me to take the next step. But after I did Offspring, I worked at McDonald’s so I could live in Melbourne and I was talking to [writer] Sarah Stricher while doing callbacks from the McDonald’s break room.
Everyone’s rushing around trying to find me while I’m talking about my character, writing notes down on a scrap piece of paper in the break room.
Then I booked it and I’m like, “See ya, Maccas!”.
AA: That is hilarious that you were both at work. You gotta pay those bills! (laughs) Do you both have any advice for anyone who is thinking of getting into the industry?
MH: Let the one fact that this is something you want to do, be the thing that drives you. Rely on that drive and that pull and just let that take you.
Also, do not be afraid to be competitive, especially for girls and women. I think there’s a lot of people that tell us that it’s kind of really bad look to be aggressive and competitive, but if you want something and it’s something you really want to do, trust your instincts and go for it all guns blazing!
SB: I actually left school to do Offspring, so maybe my advice isn’t that great! (laughs) Don’t be afraid to take it seriously. You will have people in your life who are going to tell you that this is just a dream and people will tell you that you need to have a ‘plan B’.
Learn as much as you can and fall in love with learning about the art of theatre and film and television. You’re going to look back on it later and if you don’t give it a really good go, then you’re going to regret it.
Catch The Wild’s on Amazon Prime Video from December 11.