Interview with Holly Monks as Saffron in Flunk


How did you get into acting? What led to you joining the cast of Flunk?

I’d always put on performances for my family as a kid, and participated in school and community theatre as a teenager. After high school, I went to drama school to study musical theatre, although I realised after graduating that it wasn’t what I wanted to pursue – my love for film was growing and I resonated more with being an actor who happens to sing rather than a musical theatre performer. As soon as we were out of the initial Melbourne lockdown I was on a mission to book a role on screen and gain some on-set experience. I put down a self tape for a new role in Flunk, got called back to do a chemistry read with Madelyn and I booked it pretty shortly after!

What unique insights do you bring to your character?

Saffron throughout the seasons has often been at odds with her desire to follow her heart and have those quintessential teenage experiences, while also feeling trapped by being a total people pleaser. It’s been a process for her to challenge the way she places authority figures on a pedestal, and discover what she wants without feeling stifled by the opinions of others. I can definitely relate to that, especially in my high school years. I was confident speaking my mind within a classroom but was pretty conflict avoidant until adulthood, which I think is quite a common journey for young women.

In what ways are you similar or different to your character?

We both own a few too many cardigans, craved academic validation at school, we’re both a bit kooky and romantic at heart. I reckon Saff would also be a big Swiftie. I loved that she went on to study performing arts too, whether it was a coincidence or a nod to my own studies it felt like the right choice for her. We definitely have some differences though – I love her but she can be a bit of a hot mess sometimes. I’ve become a lot clearer when it comes to explaining my feelings as I’ve grown up, so I’d have tackled a lot of her mishaps with a direct conversation a lot sooner than she tends to.

How would you have responded in your character’s situation this season?

I would have been siding with Mila this season! Life-changing decisions about moving interstate and choosing a university should be entirely your own choice, not one that’s made with saving a relationship in mind, especially as a teenager. I’m glad she got her happy ending, but I’m also thrilled she decided not to move to Queensland and she did put herself first in this instance.

What have been your favourite Flunk scenes to film and why? 

There’s so many. Shooting with Emily this season was great and it was a nice change of pace to have so many scenes between Saff and Astrid. We already had a great rapport because we’re such good friends in real life so I could definitely feel the ease of chemistry there, and I think their blossoming friendship and support for each other translated really well on screen.

A specific memory would probably be my first full day on Flunk. We filmed non-chronologically, so my first full day on set was day 1 of the season 3 shoot which happened to be Saffron’s pool party. There was a real buzz that day getting to meet everyone for the first time while the returning cast caught up after a long hiatus, and we had extras there and a larger crew that day. It definitely helped keep our energy up because it was, in classic Melbourne fashion, not nearly warm enough for a pool party. Poor Liv had to get pushed in the water a few times that night but we were all just so excited to be on set. I actually remember feeling nervous to meet Liv because of where Saffron and Ruby’s story goes but she immediately put me at ease, she’s so sweet in real life and the farthest thing from her character. Season 3 in general was a lot of fun, we went to a lot of new locations and we had a bunch of group scenes with the whole gang all together. It’s always great doing group scenes because we get to see how the dynamics between the characters change and we’re all having a ball chatting together between takes.

What do you think the future holds for your character? What would you like to see happen to them, and Why?

The last scene in season 5 was a lovely clue to what happens to her, although it’s a big spoiler so not sure if I can go into detail there! That scene answers any questions about her future love life, but in her career I think Saff uses her performing arts degree to eventually go into teaching drama. She’s been so guided by teachers and parental figures, and both herself and Heidi have been let down by the adults in their lives in different ways. She’s also always been a nurturer, I think that’s why she’s drawn to people like Heidi, Ruby, and in this season Larissa, she can extract a vulnerable side from them and she’s been a friend to pretty much every character she meets. It’d be a great full-circle moment if she could be a supportive presence for a troubled kid and guide them in the right direction. I’d also like to think Mila eventually came around and they now have a much more functional mother-daughter relationship.

What advice would you give to other actors starting out?

Be yourself! It sounds so cliche, but there’s so many actors out there trying to get a foot in the door so it’s comforting to know that there’s one thing you can guarantee nobody else can do as well as you. It can feel scary but showing up as yourself is way more exciting than trying to guess what the “right” choice is or guessing what people want to see from you. Also, take class consistently to work on your craft and be kind to everyone, which I know are also cliches but they are absolutely true!

Outside of acting, what are your other hobbies and activities?

Now that we’re heading into Melbourne winter, I am almost always doing one of the following things – playing guitar or piano, baking, reading, painting, jigsaw puzzles, and feeding peas to the ducks near my house.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

I’m working on an EP at the moment! It’s been a long process writing and recording everything on a small-scale indie level but I’m really excited for it to be released sometime in the next 12 months. It’s been so personal, and a real labour of love so I’ll be over the moon when it’s finally ready to go out into the world.

How can the audience follow your career in the future? 

Any updates about upcoming projects can be found on my Instagram: @hollyemmamonks

Last modified: June 10, 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *