Genevieve Morris talks about her role in the new Australian comedy series Little Acorns

I recently had the opportunity to speak to actress Genevieve Morris from the newly released web  series Little Acorns – something of a child-care, work-place comedy.

Across this – and my chat with Emily Taheny which you’ll be able to read online soon – we discuss the show and its highlights, such as labia cakes and beer, mugs that like to make a statement and how far we’ve come with strong women of the film industry. We also like to get to know our stars a little more, their likes and dislikes, favourite movies and TV shows.

I broke the ice with Genevieve chatting about the love for our dogs and how cute her Kelpie/Labrador Bella; also adding a new addition to the dog family at her home in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. Genevieve is such a warm-hearted lady to chat with and brings with her an awesome wit and charming sense of humour.

I’ll start by saying how awesome Little Acorns is.

Oh wow, thank you. Do you have children yourself David?

Yes, I have a 9-year-old boy in school and a 5-year-old in the last year of day-care.

So it’s all on for you then, the series would have a lot in it for you to enjoy.

What’s been your experience with day-care centres in the past? Have you had much to do with them before Acorns commenced?

I have an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old. We moved to the day-care in the hills out here when my daughter was 4 years of age, so we got to see both worlds with a city day-care and a country one, a council run centre and a privately run centre. The themes in the show are all the same as those, but in a sense it could be a universal theme for many work places. It just so happens that most of the centres are a work place where a lot of women work, which left some great fodder for a show like Little Acorns.

Trudy Hellier and Maria Theodorakis are the brain-children of Little Acorns, being the writers and directors of the show. They have a long line of Australian film and TV history, the same as yourself. It feels like it’s about time we’re seeing more recognition going to female filmmakers.

It is well overdue, it’s exciting and refreshing. Sometimes, it feels like there is a certain set of rules for TV on everything you do. If it was just another cop show or another hospital drama that’s fine, but certain people freak out if there’s too many shows about women or children or god forbid those other things we have and all do!

I did go and see Bad Moms the other day and it was so funny, had some great writing and I think it’s a really great time for this kind of movie and even better timing for our show now too.

What were some of the highlights working with so many talented ladies in one place?

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I love that we all seem to share the same set of values and sense of humour, even our DOP (Director of Photography) was female as was our First AD (Assistant Director)… I think there really is no bullshit on set with all of us together.

Sometimes there is a lot of cock swinging in the film and TV world. Coming from a lot of stuff I’ve done, not so much these days as it used to be, but about 15 years ago. I remember I had come home from a day on set and saying to myself ‘God, I must be really crap, I just did not understand that director at all‘. But he was probably a fifty-year old cowboy and that’s ok because I don’t really want to understand a fifty-year old cowboy when I’m a female in my mid-twenties. Just a very differentiating mind-set.

So yeah, all of us together on set, we seemed to have an overall understanding of one another and worked better for it.

Working mum’s have taken a much bigger role in the past ten or so years. The need for day-care centres are higher while society gets busier and technology steals our kids. Has all this crazy technology change been hard to keep up with, especially with your career?

Not really hard to keep up (in terms of growth) but if you allow yourself to be accessible all the time it’s hard not to constantly check your phone or emails as soon as they buzz and go off. You try to set yourself times through the day to check it, like 10am, 1pm and 3pm I will check my emails or messages, but it never really happens like that.

The appeal for Little Acorns was actually using this new tech world as a means to be able to click on our show and watch a quick 6-minute episode, especially for busy working audiences. It fits perfectly in with the whole ethos of it all. We all don’t have much time anymore, so give us a bite size chunk and we will be happy.

I know after watching the show I would now like a United Nations of Toddlers (C*&T) Mug. 

(Laughing) I have actually seen them online, Maria (Theodorakis) sourced that and I thought she ordered it just for the show and had it made, but nope. They are out there and after seeing them I did tag everyone that was on the show and we all had a laugh.

So, who was the brains behind the labia cake?

I don’t want to get into trouble by getting this wrong, they all collaborate so well together it’s hard to remember whose idea was who’s. We had a couple of versions of the cake because Maria’s partner Shane is quite handy in all of the props, when we made the pilot, which we made for nothing, he created the first version of the cake. Then Belinda Hellier came on to do the second, or at least some of the finer labia work. It’s definitely none of chef’s work, I can’t take the credit.

Who was your favourite to work with on set and who did you have the most fun with?

One of the great things about my off-sider Anthea (Davis) is that we had a great dynamic going with non-verbal communication, funny faces and all the looks we gave each other.

It was also great when Rachel Griffiths arrived on set too. We went to university together and were in a theatre company a million years ago, so to be able to come together again was great.

Rachel Griffiths
Rachel Griffiths

I also absolutely loved the scene in which Matt Mcfarlane and myself are eating the cake, he is this one male in the centre and Chef has got so much male energy, it was just funny thinking I could have a beer with him after work and then finding out he didn’t drink, I was like ‘awwwww’. I also did a theatre show with Matt a few years ago too, he is such a good fella.

How much input do you have for Little Acorns? All the jokes you say, how much of it is scripted?

I pretty much have free reign, being associate producer. Which basically means I helped get the series off the ground and the pilot get off the ground in the first place; I helped with a lot of the casting. Maria and Trudy are usually a very polite audience and they let me have a lot of my own input for the show and the role. I actually look back at it now and think ‘Why the hell didn’t you hold me back’? It doesn’t help me, them laughing and me over-acting.

I think it’s safe to say we all absolutely loved the first series of No Activity. Some of the stories you would tell your co-worker Harriet Dyer were hilarious.

I didn’t come up with all of that, the show runners Trent O’Donnell and Patty (Patrick Brammall) came up with all the main script and story. A ton of the show is all ‘improv’ and they just give me the kernels and I just go for it.

Are you back for Series 2 of No Activity?

Yes, we just finished shooting that and it is due out in October. If I wasn’t in that show, I would want to be. I love it!

I always love to ask everyone I have interviewed what are you watching these days? Favourite TV shows or movies other than Bad Mom’s you have seen recently?

Hmmm? What am I watching? I get snippets of the Olympics because it’s all over TV at the moment but I really don’t follow it all that much. OK, OK, Confession time! We have some family viewing at the moment where I sit down with my kids and watch The Bachelor from an educational point of view, of course. You’re now getting an idea of how high-brow I am.

We were away in Tasmania at the time for something I was working on when the show started. I can break it all down for them and tell them, “No, women don’t need to be like that to each other” and letting them know that the producers and show runners edit a lot of content out. My daughter caught on pretty quickly and got right into it yelling “HEY, I bet they just cut that scene to make it look like that”… in fact as I’m speaking to you I have realised its Wednesday and it will be on tonight. I really do have an exciting life David.

On another topic completely, are you also a cat person?

Not really, I grew up with cats but my husband is allergic and dogs just have more personality and more unconditional love where as a cat, well you know. With my dog though, I am a full on Dr Harry, I don’t go sooky la la on my doh when I walk in the door. Do not acknowledge the dog, finish your jobs and then turn around and say a quick G’Day! Don’t want a neurotic dog.

I talk to Emily Taheny next and get a few words about Little Acorns from her perspective as well.

I love Emily, I picked her for the role. We have worked a lot over the years on things like Comedy Inc. and other projects. I think she is great.

So there you have it, Genevieve Morris and Little Acorns. Now stop hanging around and go check out Little Acorns Season 1 HERE. It’s a blast! Look out for my interview with Emily Taheny, which will be online soon.