Since graduating from acting school in 2019, Sophie Wilde's career trajectory has been on the rise. Roles in Australian drama Eden during the height of the pandemic, and in UK miniseries You Don’t Know Me, have provided Wilde with initial tastes of an industry that she's always longed to be a part of.
Now, the Aussie has landed her first major feature film role in The Portable Door, starring alongside Patrick Gibson and Sam Neill. As she finds her feet and establishes a name for herself, Wilde says she's becoming more confident in advocating for herself in a biz, that like many industries, has been harder on women. Especially women of colour.
"I've always been quite shy as a person and a bit introverted. It's been a journey learning to speak up for myself in a myriad of ways," the actor tells Refinery29 Australia.
"I think there is so much value in it, especially when it comes to work. If you're an actor and you're like, 'I just need five minutes to be able to get to this place', I think you should be able to ask for that."
Wilde says it's often daunting at first to speak up when you enter unfamiliar territory, especially when there's already an established status quo and you're the new face in the room.
"I think so often, as young actors, you're scared to speak up because you don't want to seem like a diva or you don't want to step on anyone's toes," she explains. "But it's important to have a voice and to say what your needs are in a moment, even if that's scary."
In the goblin-filled movie, The Portable Door, Wilde plays intern Sophie Pettingel, who crosses paths with Paul Carpenter (Gibson), another intern who has been tasked with hunting for the world’s most powerful and coveted item — 'the portable door'.
"She's very hard-working, she's a perfectionist and diligent, and has this kind of hard exterior," she notes, adding that there are some similarities between her younger self and her character. "But over the progression of the film, you see that softer side to her."
"I love the complexity of her, and she reminds me a lot of me in high school," laughs Wilde. "My friends used to tease me for being a teacher's pet. I feel like we're very similar in that sense."
While Wilde is the female lead in this movie, there are also many women working behind the scenes, including Lisa Henson executive producer and Blanca Lista as producer. As the movie's hair and makeup artist Jennifer Lamphee notes, "having more gender equality has been terrific for the industry — particularly for roles which were very much a boy’s club".
"We have more female directors, camera operators, producers, and cinematographers now which is allowing for more interesting opportunities for portraying women in film," Lamphee says in the official press kit shared with journalists ahead of the movie's release.
"For example, I wanted to cut off Sophie Wilde’s hair in this film which was embraced by Lisa and Blanca. Traditionally, this request would have been shut down as she wouldn’t have been deemed pretty enough."
It's no secret that beauty ideals have long differed between men and women in Hollywood and beyond, and Lamphee's point reminds us how these perceptions can shape what's produced and presented to the rest of the world.
"I would never have thought that cutting off someone's hair would make them less beautiful," Wilde responds when asked about Lamphee's comments. "There's obviously an importance in having women behind the scenes, and I'm a big supporter of women filmmakers."
As Wilde prepares for the world to see her in a new light on the big screen, she ultimately hopes that viewers will feel joy in watching the magic unfold.
"There's something that's beautifully nostalgic about this film and I just want audiences to find their inner child," she says. "Fantasy is a form of escapism. The world itself is hectic and sometimes it's nice to not live in the world, and be in this fantasy place."