Aussies Of The Bay – Larissa Kelloway

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Larissa Kelloway, Freelance Actor, Berkeley (or as more aptly named, Bezerkley)

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

We arrived in August 2016. My techie husband was asked to relocate to the Californian office, based in San Ramon (AKA most appropriately as San Remote), so we packed up house and our two teenaged sons in a 6 week turn around and headed here.

I saw it as an opportunity to finish my PhD thesis, but it turns out I have worked as an actor pretty much full-time since I started actively auditioning in February 2017. The thesis is still a work in progress!

Hardest thing about moving here?

Schooling and leaving our beloved fur-baby at home! Moving a Grade 8 and 9 was so tough. The biggest challenge is understanding the subtle nuances that divide the schooling systems. Australian schools encourage students to make mistakes and learn from them.

That attitude is not a part of the US system in our experience. Another major difference was the focus on rote learning. The boys took quite awhile to get their heads around school here, and are still caught out from time to time. As for the fur-baby, well that was solved by engaging the wonderful people at Jetpets to relocate her a year later.

Now our beautiful beaglier (a Beagle and King Charles Cavalier x), Trixie, gets lots of attention at the Berkeley parks.

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

Oooo, tough question. A few spring to mind. Visiting Yosemite – breath taking views in every direction. Skiing at Northstar, Tahoe. Putting my toes into the Pacific Ocean here – man that water is cold!

Driving up Lombard St to the zigzag section – that is more terrifying than going down it especially when you have a loaded up vehicle without an automatic footbrake! Seeing so much amazing theatre – yes I saw “Hamilton” (twice in fact) but there have been other things like SF Playhouses recent show “The Effect” which was stunning.

Randomly running into an old work colleague walking across the street in downtown San Francisco by pure chance – the world is not so big after all. Oh, and a really personal one, but being asked to present a one woman show (which I am on 15 June at Society Cabaret) – in Australia you would have to be very high profile for an opportunity like that to land in your lap.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

There are all sorts of work opportunities that you couldn’t possibly foresee from Australia. I don’t know if it’s simply because there are a large volume of people or just that there are go-getters who make it happen, but I am constantly blown away at how many theatre companies can exist here.

I was at a gala for a season announcement recently and this company put out their mission to raise funds to put on theatre so that it didn’t matter if the seats were all full in the theatre or not.

I love that people will embrace that ambition and donate to the cause but more so that an artistic director will put on the theatre that they want to because it speaks to them, not because it will put bums on seats. That is amazing!!

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

Big cars! I thought I would not see so many monster SUV’s in the Bay but it seems they are everywhere. I was told “Californian’s are glued to their steering wheels.” Ain’t that the truth, and one I’ve too had to embrace but I can’t quite come at the monster SUV that you need a step ladder to climb into.

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Come! Know it will be a huge adjustment and adventure, but at the end of it you’ll have grown as a person, you’ll have made new friends, seen new things, appreciate things around you in a whole new way, and had fun along the way.

Any additional thoughts?

The Bay is phenomenal. It’s incredibly spread out and, as a result, each little area has its own feel and identity. Pretty much any version of the American life can be found here from frenetic city living to calm suburban-urban. Get out and explore. Make connections. You’ll be amazed at where they lead you.


Christian Thurston


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