Few people have a strong idea of what direction they want their life to take, but at 19 years of age, Gymea Bay's Katja Giese is looking straight into her future with confidence.
The young actor is appearing in a new short film produced by the Young Actors Assembly (YAA) called Unknown Number, directed by Suvipra Vaidya.
The training programs at the YAA are taught by leading industry experts including professional actors, casting directors, talent managers, filmmakers, writers and directors. Aspiring actors learn skills for theatre, film, television and for voice-over, plus learn how to analyse a script, nail an audition and move on stage.
Ms Giese, who completed her schooling via distance education, graduating this year, started acting at 13 at Art Umbrella at Caringbah. She was also in another film called Conversations of Young Adults last year.
Drawing from life experience, the talented actor said she was inspired to tap into the grieving process her character goes through, and also offer a sense of hope. She was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome at age 14.
"It's a nerve condition where the brain is constantly misfiring pain signals. The pain is comparable to being burned alive," Ms Giese said.
"Acting has been something no matter how bad I have felt, it's always been there as a support, and I can leave my ordinary life and get into another character."
Alongside acting, Ms Giese also took on the role of costume design, to work on the thrilling short that tells the story of a murder mystery surrounding a group of teenagers. They receive a text message from an unknown number, telling them to meet in a secluded location after the mysterious death of one of their own. Dark secrets are revealed, and friendships are tested.
Supported by her training at Young Actors Assembly, Ms Giese plays the character of Annabel Lee - the group's daydreamer who strangely cut contact with the group in the weeks preceding their friend Jules' death.
Port Hacking actor Zofia Morgan, 16, was also cast in the film.
"I love film because it connects me to characters and worlds that are beyond mine," she said. "Acting and script writing have given me the opportunity to dive even deeper into these worlds. I hope viewers feel the same connection I do to the characters I've created."
The film premieres on December 18 at Chauvel Cinema, Paddington.