Pia Miranda, an Australian actor well-known for her roles on Neighbours and All Saints, is as talented as she is sweet. The Melbourne born talent plays Spiteri in the psychologically daunting prison drama, and was kind enough to chat with me from the land of Oz about her time as the twisted, and often heartbreaking Jodie. This character was probably my favorite to see come in and steal the show. There was an abundance of naivety and emotion that I enjoyed watching each episode as her story unfolded.
Miranda and I not only talked about her character and the hardships she endures (and trust me, she goes through a lot), but we also got to chat about on-set pranks (we’re looking at you Robbie Magasiva) and the response from fans around the world. Oh, and we have a pretty sweet giveaway for all you Jodie fans that includes autographed pencils, and awesome fanart by Franky’s Fan Art.
So put the pencil down and have a read.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Your character quickly became a fan favorite on Season 3 of Wentworth. To start, can you tell us a little bit about Jodie Spiteri and what attracted you to this role?
PIA MIRANDA: I actually watched Season 1 of Wentworth because Leeanna [Walsman] is one of my best friends, so I wanted to see her in it, and I really liked it. Then I just got asked to audition for this character and I had no idea what the journey was going to be; I just wanted to be on the show. So when I auditioned, it just sort of was like, “you’re Franky’s new girlfriend.” The audition was the chicken scene.
MM: And you had no idea the kind of storyline your character would go through?
PM: No. It was so exciting when I got those scripts. I was so pumped! And then Season 2 hadn’t aired yet, so I didn’t really know Ferguson’s journey, so I went up to Pamela [Rabe] and I’m like, “Dude, what did you do to me?” And so we sat down and had a big chat about what’d she’d been up to in Season 2 and so we really enjoyed it. [laughs]
MM: That’s great! And now, your character and obviously Nicole’s are all chummy in the beginning. Is that a prerequisite that every new inmate needs to hook up with Franky? [laughs]
PM: [laughs] I know, right? I don’t know. It wasn’t bad, though. Me and my friends have girl crushes on Nicole, so they were pretty jealous.
MM: [laughs] Right? They’re like, “What? You get to do what?!” That’s awesome. But in all seriousness, how was it playing the role with her and then just in general, working on this show that obviously you love and really enjoy?
PM: It was really nice. You know, Nicole came to my second audition because they wanted to check if, you know, often they do these things called a chemistry audition to make sure that you and the other actor play off each other really well, and we had a really good time! It was really nice working with her. I think we were a little bit sad that we only had a short amount of time together.
MM: Now, put yourself in Jodie’s shoes for a hot second. If you had to choose another character on the show to cozy up to, who would you choose and why? No restrictions. Sky’s the limit.
PM: Probably Maxine. I mean, there’s something so kind of beautiful about Maxine. I think I’d probably even fall in love with Maxine.
MM: That’s so interesting!
PM: I just think she’s great. Yeah, she’s loveable and she’s beautiful. Yeah, I think I totally would get a crush on Maxine.
MM:That’s awesome! And now, your character clearly deals with some very heavy issues and has really been manipulated and put through the ringer this season— well done, by the way. Your performance has been just breathtaking.
PM: Oh, thank you so much!
MM: Oh, you’re welcome! How do you detach yourself after these long shoot days? Do you have any fun activities you like to partake in or things you do to relax?
PM: I mean, I’ve got two young children so [laughs] I don’t get too relax much. So a hot shower and a really big glass of wine is usually how I get with it. But you know that whole kind of intense part was probably like a four week shooting period, so I just sort of pretty much stayed with it the whole time. I was pretty wrecked by the end of it, but it was fun going there, so it wasn’t a terrible experience. It was fun going to those dark places, but I was definitely kind of exhausted by the end. [laughs] Sometimes, because I have kids, I’d rush home and I’d run into Coles— Coles is our supermarket —and I’d still have my makeup on [laughs] looking terrible and people would be staring at me. But it is weird doing that stuff and then coming straight home and having, “Mummy, mummy,” and having to play that straight away kind of gets you out of it.
MM: Yeah, that’s probably a good thing. And now, the fans are eager to know if black leather gloves send shivers up your spine. [laughs]
PM: Not really. I mean, I think we had a little bit of fun in between. I mean, we got to workshop a lot of that stuff in between the two of us, between Pamela and I, like where we were going to go and what we were going to do. That process was kind of fun and she’s sweet. She’s not scary. And I actually really love leather, so it was fine.
MM: So you weren’t running from her in terror when you guys weren’t filing to just keep in character?
PM: No! We got along really well. But sometimes, when we were right in the thick of that story line, occasionally she’d walk past me— when she was in uniform— she’d walk past me and my heart would beat like… [laughs] because I was in the middle of one of those intense days. I know in the courtroom scenes, because we’d hang quite a bit off set, but in the courtroom scenes, we sort of tried to stay away from each as much as possible in between takes just to stay in the process.
MM: Yeah. And now, Robbie [Magasiva] mentioned that he does some pranks on set. Do you guys get to have fun in between takes?
PM: Yeah! I think because the stuff’s really heavy, you tend to have a lot of laughs off set, so the cast is pretty friendly. I know Pamela and I spent a lot of time joking around quite a bit. [laughs] But you know, the cast is really cool and we had a lot of fun. It’s a really great vibe, actually. Once you’re on set, it’s quite serious. But once you get off set in the green room, at lunch and stuff, I think everyone makes sure that they keep everything quite light so that no one gets too bogged down with the seriousness of the subject matter.
MM: Jodie kind of cracked under the pressure when it came down to confronting the governor about her shady tactics. Do you think there’s any hope for her sanity? Do you think she can come back from this?
PM: For me, I honestly thought Ferguson was going to kill me and so when she didn’t, I found that profoundly sad. I went, “Oh, God” because I felt so close to Jodie for that amount of time and I was like, “God, please don’t leave me like this. Please don’t leave me like this.” So I don’t think she’s going to come back at all.
MM: No. And now, the fans kind of want to know what Ferguson made Jodie do. Do you even know what she did?
PM: Why? Why did I say that in the Q&A? [laughs] Why did I even mention it? I’m such an idiot that I went and opened this massive can of worms, because when I got Twitter, I got Twitter for the Q&A because I knew I was doing it. I’m really pretty new to social media and I didn’t really know there was this whole Pamela obsession out there, I had no idea. Honestly I had no idea. And then all of a sudden, people were sending me questions like, “What did she do? What did she do?” about that scene and I was like, “Oh my God.” And then, for some reason, I didn’t realize it was such a big deal—I went brain dead or something— and said it got cut out and then everyone just went nuts and I was like, “Uh, my God!” But yes, something was cut from the confession. It involved a baton, so you can use your imagine. But I think it was too intense. It was too much.
MM: Yeah. It might have crossed a line that maybe Wentworth didn’t want to want to take at that time.
PM: Yeah. But I used it as my reality. I think, you know, I kind of used it for myself. Because it was still ambiguous, but I used a lot of stuff from what Pamela and I workshopped as my reality.
MM: Well that’s really interesting. I think it’s great to have things up for interpretation because then people can chat about it and see who thinks what and what really happened, what didn’t happen, so that kind of creates some buzz.
PM: Yeah. Like, I know Pamela and I know what happened, but it’s sort of like, it’s definitely up for interpretation and I don’t think it’s clear cut. I don’t even think we really [laughs] know the definitive answer to that.
MM: Hmm…interesting. So now, we kind of touched a little bit on social media. Do you get a lot of feedback there regarding the character and are you kind of surprised by the fan response, particularly outside Australia?
PM: Yeah, totally! I mean, I knew some of it because I’m really good friends with Danielle [Cormack], so she’s the one who set me up on Twitter. I was feeling a little bit scared of social media because I wasn’t sure what it was like, but it’s so nice having people say nice things to you and really like your work from all over the world, so it’s been really lovely and people are so lovely. It does mean a lot when you’re an actor because you spend a lot of time out of work or questioning ourselves, so it’s lovely to have people enjoy what we do.
MM: Yeah, I would imagine so! Well, at least you haven’t gotten scared away yet, so that’s a plus! [laughs] So you and Leeanna have the craziest, most entertaining exchanges on Twitter. Are you aware that people follow that religiously and they love to see you guys interacting?
PM: [laughs] Oh yeah, she was actually just texting me now on how to upload her dance routine. [laughs]
MM: Oh, yes! [laughs] You must get her to do it!
PM: We have little dance offs that we send each other. We get bored, so we send each other like little dance challenges on email.
MM: Oh my goodness. How do I get involved in this? I do those things!
PM: [laughs] You can upload one! I’m trying to get her to upload hers. I can’t upload mine because I wore these tights that I didn’t realize were a bit see through and I’ve got these black pair of undies on. [laughs] I couldn’t put it up. [laughs]
MM: No, that might not be a good idea. [laughs] Leeanna kind of mentioned in our interview recently that she doesn’t usually know what to say on Twitter. Do you find that a problem, too? Do you prefer using Facebook or Instagram over Twitter?
PM: I don’t use Facebook a lot. I’ve only got a couple of friends who are overseas, so I just put stuff up that’s not work related. I’m still new to Twitter, so I’m not quite across it, but I do enjoy having interactions with people, but then I feel really guilty if I’m away from it and can’t get back to everyone. I grew up Catholic, so I’m always feeling horribly guilty. But I enjoy it. I enjoy Instagram, I really enjoy people’s pictures, I really like it. It’s great.
MM: Yeah! Leeanna mentioned that she likes to stalk sometimes and she’ll go to people’s accounts and see who they are what they’re talking about.
PM: Oh my God, I should do that! [laughs]
MM: Yeah! [laughs] You can kind of see who’s tweeting you and what maybe they might be like in real life.
PM: Yeah. I’m so new to it, I always feel like people can see me, you know what I mean, when I’m doing it. Like, if I look at someone’s Twitter account, I’m like, “Can they see me?” [laughs]
MM: [laughs] No, they can’t. Unless you press that send button, you’re OK. But, I’ve kind of been asking everybody I’ve been talking to if they’d be up for some sort of Wentworth convention, whether it be in New York City or somewhere else. Would that be something that you’re interested in, meeting the fans?
PM: In New York City? Yes, yes, yes. I lived in New York for a while because I went to drama school there.
MM: Oh wow!
PM: I lived in Chelsea.
MM: OK, that’s awesome! I’m just a train away from New York City so I’m on a mission to get you guys over here.
PM: One of my best buds is in New York, so I’ll come anytime.
MM: Oh my gosh, that’s awesome! I will make this happen one day. So now, we kind of like to enter the rapid fire round where I ask you a couple things. It’s a “this or that,” just say what comes into your mind. Are you ready?
MM: OK! So, chicken parmesan or spaghetti and meatballs?
PM: Chicken parmesan.
MM: Talking or texting?
MM: Books or movies?
MM: Chocolate or sour candies?
MM: Early bird or night owl?
PM: Early bird.
MM: Team Franky or Team Bea?
PM: Bea maybe.
MM: And so, we kind of touched a little bit about your character and if we would see her again. Is there no hope for us to see Jodie in Season 4?
PM: Not at the moment because I’m working on other stuff, but you never know. You never know what could happen. But yeah, no, not at the moment.
MM: Well, we’ll take that. We’re thinking that we’ll see you again. Well, we’re hoping too. You say you’re working on some other projects. Is there anything you want to tell us to look out for, or is it still pretty early that you can’t talk about it?
PM: Yeah, they’re all pretty early. I’m doing this great little thing to the next couple of weeks, I’ve got some theatre, and then I’m shooting a feature in December.
MM: Oh, wonderful!
PM: Actually, it’s all horror and all scary and all bad and someone needs to give me comedy. [laughs]
MM: [laughs] You’re like, “Please give me something where I’m not poking myself in the eye with a pencil and sobbing.”
PM: Totally! [laughs]
MM: Well, that’s awesome and we’re hoping that we see Jodie again in the near future. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. I think that’s all the questions I had for you. This has been awesome. Thank you again for joining me!
PM: Thank you! So nice to talk to you!
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