Figtree Conference Centre employs people living with mental health issues in the hospitality field. Current employee MATT STONIER has been a TV and movie actor and, more recently, he has written a book about his life.
I trained at the University of Tasmania in Launceston. I did lots of plays, exercises, voice, history of film and theatre, all of which was a good basis for going into an acting career.
You can be quite comfortable as an actor- if you make it. But unless you go to the United States, you have only very small and rare opportunities.
I have an uncle who was the CEO of a publishing company and likes to make his own wine. Seeing his lifestyle, I got an idea of how people live when they are comfortably-off.
I’ve acted in a few shows. I was a policeman on Home and Away, I was in All Saints and I was also in BABE 2. That was the darker of the Babe movies. I was in the ballroom scene. I just turned up, got dressed up every day for about two weeks to film that scene. I don’t think Fox Studio is quite great as it is cracked up to be. But all in all there have not been many opportunities. You have to know somebody, or maybe go to a prominent school like NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts).
When I first came to Sydney, I had actually been in the USA for a couple of weeks. I came back with nothing and lived rough for a while. Then I ended up living in a granny flat in Mulgoa for a while, joined a local Church and got back on my feet. Nowadays, I’ve learned not to get my hopes up too much. If something seems too good to be true, it generally IS too good to be true.
Besides, there are more important things in life, such as marriage and housing and food… to push all of that to one side and be obsessed with acting is not being responsible.
I am happily married now, my wife has two boys from her previous relationship. One is doing (house) painting and the other is studying criminology. We have a nice little dog and live a simple life. I have a strong belief in Jesus. I met Keith Christiansen at Church and we became good friends. I do like hospitality. I like to help people out when something needs to be done.
I have three brothers, one in Singapore, one in Sydney and the youngest in Melbourne-we have different talents! but come together at Christmas once year
I find, with living on the Disability Support Pension, that the media doesn’t really tell it right. It is an extremely restrictive lifestyle, very hard. At the end of a fortnight, there really is nothing left over once you have provided for the basics. With the current government’s attitude to Welfare, It makes you feel even more vulnerable. And there doesn’t seem much hope of the other lot getting back into government in the near future. The messages that pollies send through the media tend to grind you down. It’s a concern.
Look at the property prices in Sydney. It seems that people are stepping on top of one another with property. That and the fact that there is no real manufacturing in this country any more have an add-on effect when you are on the DSP. On the other hand, money attracts more money. You have huge abundance side by side with great restrictions.
It is amazing, to see the types of new cars being driven around. I’m confused. I always believed that if you worked hard and do your best you would be fine. But nowadays I don’t see that as being true, there’s no basis for that motto any more.
They make out that education is the be all and end all. But I think housing is the more important key to prosperity. I’d prefer a place to live before an education. A lot of the kids at uni these days are not really that studious and they won’t make a lot of benefit out of education anyway.
In the job market I have had a few struggles. For example, employers would not be so keen on a person who comes across as slightly paranoid. I had a physical injury at one stage, to my knee. Working eight hour shifts with the injury was exhausting. It had an add-on effect to everything. I’ve lost jobs over it. Eventually, though, it got better.
I worked at a place called Country Manor Warehouse. There were some great people there, some Fiji Indians. It was great for Curry and Cameraderie! That was a very nice time for me. They were very down to earth people. I liked them.
In 2014 and 2015, I wrote a book about my life. Panorama readers who are interested in reading it can send me a request at email@example.com (or click this link: www.amazon.com.au/Trying-tide-PART-Unleash-Odyssey-ebook/dp/B00U30X4PK)
Matt spoke to Warren Heggarty. Thanks also to Keith Christiansen for his help.
Figtree Conference Centre
5 Figtree Drive Olympic Park NSW 2127
02 9393 9000