An award-winning, multi-hyphenate creative, Sally McLean began her work in the entertainment biz in her mid-teens as an actor 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 supporting roles in theatre in both Australia and the UK.
Highlights include the West End premiere of the drama Annabel’s Requiem, what is believed to be the first all-female production of Macbeth in the UK and the professional Australian premier of the hit Broadway musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
FILM & TV PRODUCTION BACKGROUND
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), on series such as One Foot In The Past, Bookmark, The History of British Art, Sister Wendy, Robert Hughes American Visions, Bookworm, Bard on the Box, Poems on the Box and Poetry Nation, during which time she also 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 a variety of production roles for Channel 9, Southern Cross Broadcasting, Freemantle Media and Endemol Southern Star on programs such as Big Brother, Comedy Inc., The X-Factor, Australian Idol and 1 vs 100.
TECH INDUSTRY BACKGROUND
She is also notable as being in the first wave of professional web designers and developers in Australia and being one of the few women working in the internet side of the tech industry in Australia during the late 1990s. She was globally recognised in this field, receiving several international awards for her design work and still designs for clients, mostly fellow creatives. Her most recent work in that area is the design of the official website of New Zealand author, Heather Morris (The Tattooist of Auschwitz).
Sally is also a graphic designer and the owner of the online clothing and homewares store Styled Vintage, selling a range of products featuring her mainly entertainment, literature and Shakespeare themed designs.
WORK WITH SHAKESPEARE
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 110 international film festivals, nominated for over 100 awards and won over 60 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. Fellow award winners that year were Christian Slater’s Mr Robot, Variety’s Actors on Actors and National Geographic’s MARS series.
Another highlight was winning the Best Film Award at the 2020 Falstaff Awards in the USA for Shakespeare Republic Season Three, decided by a jury of academics from around the world. Fellow nominees included Shakespeare’s Globe broadcast program, Canada’s Stratford Festival broadcast series, the international hit streaming series The Show Must Go Online and the UK’s National Theatre Live at Home program. Previous winners of this award include the BBC’s Hollow Crown series, Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing and Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard.
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 Shorts 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.
Recent acting accolade highlights include being nominated for “Outstanding Performance in a Principal Role (History)” for her “Queen Katherine” in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII for The Show Must Go Online at the 2021 Groundlings Awards in the UK (decided by audience and public votes), and winning “Best Actress in a Web Series” for playing “Macbeth” in Shakespeare Republic: #AllTheWebsAStage (The Lockdown Chronicles) at the Unrestricted View Film Festival, also in the UK, as decided by a jury of industry peers including top level production company executives, directors, actors and producers.
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 has been taught at Syracuse University, USA, 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 Web Series Award categories from 2014 to 2019. She is also a previous member of British Equity.
She additionally teaches Shakespeare as an industry guest teacher at various institutions including the Howard Fine Acting Studio Australia and the Equity Foundation.
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).