“If you want to be stronger in front of the camera, and a better person as part of a team, you need to know what's going on behind the camera and what everyone needs from you.”
So says first-year Bachelor of Communication (Media Arts and Production), Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation (BCII) student Brenna Harding.
Harding is perhaps best known for her roles in Puberty Blues and A Place to Call Home. She won the 2013 Logie Award for Most Popular New Female Talent and was an AACTA Best Young Actor nominee, all before finishing high school in 2014.
Harding, who has had to balance her career with study from the age of 15, wasn’t sure if university was for her. Until she learned about the BCII – a transdisciplinary course offered in summer and winter schools that encourages students to explore new possibilities, employ design thinking and prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
“I’ve always felt things like difference and extra-curricular pursuits weren’t valued in the education system,” reveals Harding. “But BCII is the first degree that I think allows you to operate in your mediums and in your way of learning and respects the diversity of that, rather than trying to quash it.
“One of the coolest things is that you’re working with all these other kids who want to do this degree and who are from all these different disciplines,” enthuses Harding. “They're all really into it and have all these diverse skills.”
However, before accepting the offer to undertake her degree, Harding says she was determined to find the same balance between work and study she had experienced in high school.
“I think its mutually beneficial if you have open lines of communication,” she explains, “so I got in contact with the Elite Athlete Program, and I said, 'Hey, I know students can get in as an elite athlete, but is there any chance I could have access to the same support that athletes do?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, totally!’.”
On top of full-time study and acting, Harding has recently founded a feminist collective, Moonlight Feminists, and devotes much of her time to the community in writing and creating podcasts.
She’s also worked as a producer for a third-year MAP student film, produced the stage play The Zoo Story for UTS Backstage, and is working on her own documentary project for the subject Composing the Real.
“There’s this whole career element to uni which is a big emphasis at UTS, and so while I’m doing my study, there’s also this career building idea – so if I’m going to produce or if I’m going to direct in the future, that involves me doing projects, having mentors, doing internships, and having those professional contacts.”
The BCII in particular, “is not designed for one particular occupation or career path, its designed to be applicable to any. So you take that unique way of thinking and you implement it in different places.”
Harding acknowledges finishing a double degree alongside acting will be a big achievement, but she’s confident the people she’s met at UTS will keep her going.
“The people I’ve met here, I’m going to work with for the rest of my life, and that’s a really cool feeling.”