An award-winning, multi-hyphenate, neurodiverse actor, writer and director, Sally McLean began her work in the entertainment biz in her mid-teens and has since performed lead, guest and supporting roles in numerous Australian, US and UK film, theatre and television productions.
A graduate of The Actors Institute UK, Sally’s notable screen acting credits include the lead role of “Angie Powers” in the BAFTA Award-winning BBC mini series Bootleg opposite Tim Robinson, lead guest role of “Stacy” in the AACTA Award-winning ABC TV series Utopia opposite Celia Pacquola and recurring guest roles of “Miss Giddens” in the ABC/CBBC TV series The Worst Year of My Life – Again! opposite Tiarnie Coupland and “Barb” in the USA Sony/AMC TV series, Preacher opposite Pip Torrens & Christopher Kirby.
Predominately working in comedy on screen, Sally is also an experienced dramatic Shakespearean actor with Musical Theatre roots, playing over thirty lead and support roles in theatre in both Australia and the UK. Highlights include roles in The Comedy of Errors and Romeo & Juliet with the Australian Shakespeare Company, the West End premiere of the drama Annabel’s Requiem and the professional Australian premier of the hit Broadway musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Sally created her own boutique production business, Incognita Enterprises, under the Honorary Patronage of Oscar® nominated actor, Sir Nigel Hawthorne KB, CBE in 1997 – an association that continued until his passing in 2001.
Prior to this, she worked in production with the BBC in both their Music & Arts and Commercial Channels Depts. (now UKTV Channels), during which time she Chaired the BBC Alternative Program Development Unit and Australian Program Development Unit, submitting several successful television program proposals to the Controllers of BBC1 & 2.
Since her return to Australia, alongside her acting career, she has worked in production for Channel 9, Southern Cross Broadcasting, Freemantle Media and Endemol Southern Star on programs such as Big Brother, Comedy Inc. and 1 vs 100.
She is currently the Creator/Director and lead ensemble member of the multi award-winning digital series Shakespeare Republic which has been officially selected and screened at over 100 international film festivals, nominated for over 90 awards and won over 50 awards to date including Best Director, Best Web Series, Best Actress (for Sally personally) and Best Ensemble Cast in numerous festivals and industry awards. A highlight was being the recipient of the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award for Best Digital Series in the USA in 2017, which saw Sally join the ranks of fellow CINE alumni such as Steven Spielberg (the then CINE President) Oprah Winfrey, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jim Henson, Mike Nichols, Robert Altman, Spike Lee, Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Sydney Pollack, among others.
Her Shakespeare short film, Speaking Daggers, a spin off from the series, was selected for 22 international film festivals, including the Academy Award® accredited St Kilda Film Festival – and won 3 awards, as well as a “Highly Commended” Finalist nod from Sir Kenneth Branagh in his role as Jury President for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Shakespeare Film Festival in the UK in 2017.
As well as directing, she appears on screen in both projects alongside Nadine Garner, Michala Banas, Alan Fletcher, Scott Major, Christopher Kirby and Dean Haglund, among others
Her work with Shakespeare Republic has been the subject of several academic presentations and plenary panels at Early Modern Literature and Shakespeare seminars and conferences in Australia, the UK and USA from 2016 to now. Her first published work on Shakespeare, an essay exploring her methodology behind Shakespeare Republic and Shakespeare performance in general, was published in the UK by Routledge Press in 2020 as part of the academic essay collection, Playfulness In Shakespearean Adaptations. The third season of Shakespeare Republic is currently being taught at Syracuse University, USA, has been discussed in papers presented at the Shakespeare Association of America Conference (USA) and BritGrad Conference (UK) and is also further explored in the Arden Shakespeare collection, Lockdown Shakespeare: New Evolutions in Performance and Adaptation, published in July 2022.
Sally’s professional memberships include the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Full Member of the Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) and Associate Member of the Australian Writers’ Guild. She is currently on the Board of Trustees for the Howard Fine Acting Studio Australia and Melbourne WebFest, as well as being a Professional Member of the Australian Film Institute and AACTA (Actor, Director & Producer’s Chapters), serving as a Juror on numerous individual award categories for several years for the AFI Awards and AACTA Awards (the AFI Awards’ successor). She has also had the pleasure of serving as a Juror for the ATOM Awards in the Best Documentary and Best Webseries Award categories from 2014 to 2019. She is also a previous member of British Equity.
She additionally teaches Shakespeare as an industry guest teacher as part of the Howard Fine Acting Studio faculty in Melbourne, Australia.
Profile photo © Julian Dolman (2019)
CURRENT WRITING/DIRECTING REEL (SHAKESPEARE PROJECTS)
Sally McLean’s Director/Writer reel for her award-winning Shakespeare screen projects, featuring footage from “Shakespeare Republic: #LoveTheBard” (2017), “Speaking Daggers” (2017), “Shakespeare Republic: #AllTheWebsAStage (The Lockdown Chronicles)” (2020) and “Walking Shadows Vol. 1” (2022).