September 27th 2002
Lush Life - Gigi Edgley
It isn't everyday Magnetic Island is visited by one of the world's most popular aliens. This living "doll" - the real doll comes with a ray gun and ammo - is usually off to work at 4am for the mandatory three hour make-up session which turns fresh faced Gigi Edgley into Chiana: a rebel Nebari: star on the top rating TV sci-fi adventure, Farscape.
Gigi is swamped with 30,000 fan letters when she gets sick. But sick she was not when she spent a few days with her older sis, Island artist, Sasha Edgley, of Nelly Bay's Barefoot Gallery.
If you haven't heard of Gigi or Chiana then that's probably because Farscape, a made-in-Australia production by Brian, the son of animated puppet genius, Jim Henson, has yet to really take off here - maybe because it was screened during the Olympics and according to Gigi, "at an early time slot for kids - but the show is really suited to an older age group". They must have got the time right in the US and Britain where the show has outrated Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is at the peak of science fiction series ratings.
So how does a 24 year old from the Gold Coast turn into a very hip alien seductress? An identity which even the back of the doll box describes as: "Sexy, naughty one, always up to something" but her crime sounds far more appealing: "Refusing to conform to her society's strict rules of structure and morality." it continues, "She has been sentenced to direct mind modification. Her talents, seduction, deception, intimidation, thievery and concealment".
"I studied drama at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and in the last year some casting directors for Granville: Day of the Roses came up from Sydney. They were looking for bit part actors - under 50 lines - and asked me to stay back to read the script. It was a three page part for a woman who had been badly injured in the (train) crash. I thought they just wanted me to 'read' for them (to feed another actor's part) but it was for me to take that woman's role which I did". The opening also drew the attention of an agent who could see potential. She finished college to go straight into work in Sydney. There she worked on a number of TV series including among many: Water Rats, Day of the Roses, Beastmaster and The Lost World.
Gigi was on a break at the Barefoot and having a time she couldn't help but call "lush!" "Everything is so lushous here!" she bubbled, even in Magnetic's dry season and explained she'd actually spotted the Barefoot Gallery ad in Sydney before urging her sister Sasha to move north and take it on.
There could be little doubt that with a family steeped in the entertainment industry, (Gigi's dad is famed entrepreneur/promoter, Michael Edgley) Gigi benefited from a familiarity with it's workings from childhood. One can imagine more than a little envy among her peers at such connections, but in person Gigi generates warmth and sincerity with an exuberance level not all the work of the coffee she sipped. This space girl was adamant: "If you've got it, you've got it!" Her personal website offers a few clues to her early years with the following, "Throughout my life I have grown up around the show biz arena. I've always felt most at home in the theatre. Whether it be peering from the wings at an immaculate ballerina, dozing in the auditorium whilst the actors attempted there twentieth dress rehearsal for the day, or teaching Marcel Marceau a few moves at the age of three."
When Gigi was called for an audition for Farscape, she rang her mum Jeni, whose life has been steeped in the exploration of alternate spirituality. Gigi said, "Mum, I've just gotten an audition as an alien!" Her mother replied, "I know you'll get it. You've grown up with aliens all your life!"
Gigi's character, Chiana, was only meant to appear for one episode, but after the third day of shooting she was told to go up to executive producer, David Kemper's office. According to Gigi, he said, "We don't know what you're doing but keep it up and you might stick around in space for a while longer" That was several series ago and even though production on the TV series is halted there is talk about a movie and more.
As for the future, Gigi seems all to aware that she has "been blessed" but has few illusions about the fickle nature of her business. "I'm letting the wind take me where I'm meant to be," and when asked where she hoped to be five years from now her answer was in keeping with her upbeat demeanor, "Happy, laughing and learning!"