You are currently viewing Young actor’s starring role
Arleearna Drake, 11, on location at Waihī Beach. Photo: ROGER WHITEFIELD

Young actor’s starring role

Arleearna Drake is one of the main cast members in Gulf 1 – The Voyage, a harrowing true story of the ill-fated journey of a livestock carrier which sank in the waters near Japan in September, 2020, during Typhoon Maysak.
There were 43 crew and almost 6000 cattle on the vessel, named Gulf Livestock 1, which had departed Napier several weeks earlier on August 14. Two New Zealanders were among the 41 people believed to have died.
The yet-to-be-released film was written and directed by Te Aroha woman Carlie Mascelle, and filmed around the local area.
Arleearna’s scenes have been filmed around Waihī and Waihī Beach, and the 11-year-old said she has enjoyed every moment.
“Since this is my first movie, I was quite scared but Carlie is very lovely, and if I get any lines wrong, she understands,” she told The Profile.
“I’ve always wanted to do movies, and this one has made me excited to put myself out there more.”
Arleearna, who also goes by her nickname Arna, has worked as an extra in films before, and has modelled on runways and for international magazines.
Her mum, Leanne, got in touch with Gulf 1’s director after seeing a post calling out for interested actors. However, when she made contact, she was told there were no children written into the original script.
About a month later, Arleearna was asked to come on board as an extra. Then, Carlie altered the direction of the film and said she’d like Arleearna to be one of the main leads.
Arleearna said she was “nervous but more excited” when she heard the news.
“The film definitely shows a lot of her character, in places. Sassy, but also very caring and down-to-earth and an animal lover,” Leanne said.
“The whole film, when we read the script, I was like: ‘This is Arna to a tee’.”
In light of the 2020 tragedy, the government decided in September to ban livestock exports by sea from April next year. Leanne said that in showcasing the true story, Arleearna learned about the history and, as an animal lover herself with a goal to open a horse sanctuary, there were some “heartfelt” scenes.
“Some of it for Arna will be quite easy – the emotions with the animals – but we don’t go too much into it and just feel it on the day,” she said. “Sometimes if you do too much and overthink it, then you can’t quite get the emotion.”
Arleearna said it was a film she hoped people would see when it was released in April, next year.
“I’m super proud of her because she can act shy or quiet or be in herself, and then it doesn’t matter whether it’s her magazine covers or her fashion catwalks, as soon as she is in the moment, she just switches and it’s like game on. Job done,” Leanne said.
“When I do it, I feel like I have a job to do,” Arleearna added, “so I try to do it the best I can do.”