Yasmin Kassim was just six-years-old when one of the world's biggest popstars, Michael Jackson, picked her face out of a crowd.
The Perth-born beauty knew then and there - with a bit of prompting from MJ - that performing was for her and began acting, singing and dancing lessons.
Now, the former-Neighbours star lives permanently in L.A., starring in the new film Jungle, alongside Daniel Radcliffe.
How are you finding living in L.A?
I find it really exciting being over here, I love how much opportunity there is for me here - especially being a multicultural actress. I’m so busy going out on auditions, call backs and meetings. It’s very exciting getting to audition for roles when you already love the show or are a fan of people in the movie. There are a lot of opportunities that you may not get when you’re back in Australia.
Are there a lot of Australian actors over there, do you have a lot of friends that you spend time with from back home?
There are so many Australian actors over here! People always talk about the 'Koala Mafia' but I don’t think there’s just one mafia, there’s really a lot of us, everywhere I go, whenever you hear that accent it really is so warming to hear - and honestly most of the time they’re probably an actor. It's nice because you’re all kind of going through the same thing and you can relate to one another, the ups and downs of being in the industry and being so far away from home.
I read that you were discovered by Michael Jackson at six years old, how did that come about?
I was waiting for an autograph with my mum and lots of fans, and he picked me out of the crowd and asked if I could be in his History Tour. I ended being an orphan girl in 'Earth Song' and 'Heal the World', which I guess, technically, was my first ever gig.
I mean, who isn’t a fan of Michael Jackson? I used to watch his music videos and I remember my scariest moment ever was when the Thriller number was on just before one of my numbers and all these zombies, real life zombies, were coming out and I was like 'Oh my gosh, this is real.'
Did you decide from a really young age that you wanted to be an actor?
For me it was more singing, dancing and acting. My grandma plays the piano and sings, so from a very young age she was teaching me music. When I was doing the History Tour, Michael told my parents I should be a performer and that they should put me into classes, so I started doing ballet, singing classes and acting classes. My parents were so supportive and I’m forever grateful.
In your new film Jungle, you star along Daniel Radcliffe, which is pretty incredible, what was he like to work with?
Daniel was so amazing to work with. We really connected, I feel and we got on really, really well. Just before we started shooting our first scene, I only spoke to him in the language that I speak in the movie - I didn’t really speak to him in English - because I wanted to keep that kind of energy there, and then when we shot our first scene together there was just this really magical air on set, there was a real shift and we knew that we were going to work well together after that.
Did you watch Harry Potter growing up, were you star struck at all?
You know what’s so weird, I was nervous, I was trying not to syke myself out because I thought if I think about this too much, it’s not going to serve me, I just need to think about the work and my job and what I need to bring to the table. And then when I met him, he was in an American accent, because he had to transfer into the Israeli accent for work, and I think that helped me not click that he was Harry Potter. Even though we would chat about our lives, we both were very much in the energy of our characters, so it wasn’t until the wrap party where he had an English accent and I didn’t have all my prosthetics on my face that we were both like, 'oh my gosh, hi, this is weird, nice to meet you properly.'
I grew up watching Harry Potter and I can’t imagine what it would be like meeting either him or someone else from the films, like Emma Watson
Well obviously, it's our generation, who doesn’t know who Harry Potter is? Honestly, from an acting perspective, the choices he’s made since that franchise, I just really admire him as an actor and not once during the shoot did I think, 'oh my god, Hogwarts.' Actually you know what, there was one time where we were talking about his family and he was talking about his missing school and I asked if his family travelled for work. He was like 'no, I was shooting the movies', and I was like 'oh, that’s right!'
Can you tell me a bit about the movie and your character’s role in it?
The movie follows Yossi Ghinsberg and some of his friends going into the jungle. It’s based on a true story, and what happens while they're in there. My character Kina is a native Amazon girl and she happens to be a part of their journey.
Is it actually scary working on a thriller when you’re on the set?
Well, I was scared because if I was out in the jungle I would probably be a little scared! But honestly for me, one of the scariest things was all the critters because I’m barefoot and there are a lot of different things crawling around. I have a bit of a phobia of creepy crawlies so for me that was pretty scary.
Aside from that movie, what have you got coming up for the rest of the year?
Nothing that I can talk about just yet but I feel really, extremely fortunate here in the US, I’m feeling a lot of love over here and I’m feeling like I can do what I love to do. Of course, if anything came up in Australia I would be home in a flash, I miss home terribly! But at the moment I’m really busy over here which is exciting.