Five Coffs Coast actors are off to the big city to follow their dreams

Young Actors Studio members, (from back left) Tayla Rankine, Tomas Pocilujko, Mitchell Hodges, Teacher Belinda Lemair, Rashana Wilkinson, Matthew Dorahy and McKinnon and Bryant Lawyers partner Ben Bryant. Photo David Tune.


YOUNG Actors Studio (YAS) is a boutique acting studio run by experienced industry professional and local teacher Belinda Lemair and celebrates ten years by farewelling six young actors who have been accepted into tertiary courses at capital city institutes.

The recent HSC graduates have chosen to pursue careers in acting and drama to satisfy their passion for performing and to grow and feed their hungry minds in the world of entertainment.

The students are –
Matthew Dorahy, who will start his Diploma of Musical Theatre at the highly regarded Brent Street Theatre in Sydney.

Tayla Rankine, accepted in the Qld University of Technology (QUT) Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama) program.

Tomas Pocilujko, also commencing at QUT in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) course.

Mitchell Hodges, Bachelor of Creative Arts at the Academy of Film Theatre and Television (AFTT) in Sydney.

Rashana Wilkinson, Bachelor of Creative Arts also at AFTT in Sydney.

Duke Cruikshank, Victorian College of The Arts (VCA), Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) in Melbourne.

Belinda said of the group, “These young school leavers are following their dreams, and taking a courageous risk in these strange times, but each of them has impressed me by staying true to who they are in making this transition.”

The students have all graced the Jetty Memorial Theatre stage in productions including “Les Misérables”, “Heathers”, “Legally Blonde Jr” and “Much Ado About Nothing” , also working to hone their skills with YAS, school drama studies, local community theatre groups and other performing arts studios.

YAS students have benefited from the long-term support of local lawyer Heather McKinnon, whose firm, Bryant McKinnon Lawyers have sponsored the group and provided scholarships to assist both high achievers and those who might struggle in traditional learning environments.

Heather regards the work of YAS as benefiting a wide range of young people and said, “As well as skills that transfer well into the world of business and commerce, these young ones are building relationships that cross school and age barriers and the theatre family provides support that is often not found elsewhere.”

For more information on YAS, email


By David TUNE

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