When Miah Madden was around seven or eight she did her first ad with sister Ruby. Though Ruby was less into it, Miah realised that acting was something she could actually pursue. Later, she auditioned for The Sapphires where she played the younger version of Jessica Mauboy’s character.
“I don’t even think I knew I got paid until I was like 16,” she told 10 play, “I genuinely thought I worked for free. If that’s not proof of passion, I don’t know what is.”
Set to star in Dive Club -- which will premiere on 10 Shake in Australia and globally on Netflix -- the young actor is excited for audiences to (excuse the pun) dive into a series she feels is unlike anything that's been on TV here.
Describing it as a “sort-of scuba diving, mystery teen drama Far North Queensland show”, Miah has seen how shows like H20: Just Add Water and Round The Twist have been embraced by other countries and hopes Dive Club will be equally loved.
Miah stars as Maddie, one of four 16-year-old best friends living in the picturesque seaside town of Cape Mercy. Though they have their fair share of usual teen dramas, the girls are also avid scuba divers and explorers.
“She’s sort of the brains, the kind one,” Miah said. “She’s the dive tech girl, she knows absolutely everything about diving. She’s a bit of a geek in that way but she definitely brings an intelligent asset to the group. She’s the brains behind the operation solving the mystery.”
When a cyclone hits Cape Mercy, the dive club’s fearless leader Lauren goes missing and Maddie, along with Stevie, Anna and cape-newcomer Izzie, take it upon themselves to crack the case.
Unconvinced by some of the assumptions made by the local police, the girls decide to launch their own investigations, using their diving skills to search for any clue that could lead them to Lauren’s location. But what they find only leads to more questions.
The cast first met on the plane on the way to Port Douglas where the series was filmed, and on arrival went into hotel quarantine, speaking through a group chat they set up and occasionally seeing each other and waving from a distance during what Miah described as their “police escorted outside breaks”.
“[It] sounds very inmate-like, I realise,” she added, laughing.
During their quarantine period, Miah said the cast utilised the time to become more familiar with the theory behind scuba diving.
Having never scuba dived before, Miah said she felt confident “smashing out” the theory side while in quarantine before they began doing the practical side, taking scuba lessons in pools and eventually making their way out and diving on the reefs with instructors.
“Now we’re all internationally qualified divers so we can scuba dive in any water on this planet which is pretty cool,” Miah added, “but the ocean is also a scary place, so I’m glad we were doing it on reefs. Very beautiful, very pristine clear waters.”
For most of the underwater scenes, the girls did their own filming, relying on stunt doubles only in certain circumstances where “it got a little bit tricky”. Using a smaller crew, Miah said they would use a whiteboard to communicate what they were shooting.
“They would write ‘action’, like spelling out action, and like ‘okay for the next shot we’re going to do this!’ It was really crazy.”
Not only did Miah have to get used to filming underwater and quickly become proficient in all things scuba much like her brainiac scuba-obsessed character, but she also had to deal with some unexpected co-stars.
“Here’s a fun fact: I’m actually really scared of fish. So that was a really interesting experience,” she said, cracking up.
Right before their first dive on the reef, Miah said she turned to co-star Georgia-May Davis who plays Lauren and asked if it was a good time to tell the instructor of her fish-phobia.
“She was like, ‘Nope. We’re not telling her that’ so I was like okay, I’ll just deal with it.”
As they got in the water the instructor then told them about a massive Maori Wrasse that may be curious to hang out while they were diving.
“They were like, ‘He’s about the size of your torso and he’s like a puppy, so he’ll chase you. I thought that’ll be fine, it’s probably not going to go near me, there were heaps of people in the water,” Miah remembered.
“As soon as I went under I was the first friend it saw. It was chasing me for about ten minutes and this was my first time diving so I was really worried about the rest of the shoot! He’s really physical, he’d brush up against you,” Miah said, adding, “He’s not aware of social distancing.”
She was quick to assure us that, despite seeing sharks in some of the dives, they didn’t worry her nearly as much as the “dart-y and slimy” fish that would frequently hang around them.
Much like her character, Maddie, throughout filming Miah became obsessed with trying to crack the case of Lauren’s disappearance. The cast was only given a few scripts at a time and kept in the dark when it came to the mysteries in Cape Mercy.
When new scripts were handed out, Miah said there was almost a competition to see who could read them first to find out what new twists lay ahead.
“We had some crazy theories,” Miah admitted, “as soon as the audience sees it, understands the plot and understands the characters we’ll get on social media and be like, ‘Want to know what we thought was going to happen?’"
“It’s such a plot twist, we were so thrown off.”
Dive Club Premieres Saturday, 29 May At 6 pm on 10 Shake and 10 Play on demand