When you imagine a celebrity couple living in Los Angeles, you might think of a sprawling mansion, date nights on Rodeo Drive and VIP access to all the hottest parties.
But the glitz and glam of Hollywood isn’t a reality for Kiwi acting duo Siobhan Marshall and Millen Baird, who are juggling several jobs just to get by.
“We were getting down to the wire one week and, of course, our rent was due too, so Millsy and I came up with a little song for the money gods, hoping they could sort something out for us,” laughs Siobhan, 34.
“We’ve managed to create a whole musical out of that little number – we call it On the Breadline. We’ve decided that if this acting thing doesn’t work out, we’ll put this into production instead.”
It’s been just over eight months since the comedic couple touched down in the States and while the big gigs aren’t rolling in just yet, the newlyweds – who tied the knot in tropical Fiji en route to LA – are remaining positive.
“It’s pilot season right now, so we’re trucking along with a few auditions, but no luck yet,” says former Outrageous Fortune and The Blue Rose star Siobhan.
“I’m also working at a florist, arranging and delivering bouquets, while Millsy’s just got his American driver’s licence, so he can start applying for delivery jobs, and we’ve put the spare room in our apartment up on Airbnb.
“There’s been a bit of rejection, but such is acting. People have the impression the industry over here is really cut-throat, but I’ve found it very inspiring. We’re surrounded by people who are passionate and motivated, and have really clear goals.”
“And we do it on a budget,” adds Millen, 43, who’s best known for producing and starring in local comedy Auckland Daze. “We live in a small apartment above The Grove, a really iconic outdoor shopping centre, and one of the things Vorny and I love best is walking around there at night when it’s all lit up – it’s great for people-watching.
“It would be easy to dwell on what we don’t have, but there’s not a lot to worry about when you’re on an adventure with your best mate. We’ve been on a high ever since the wedding.
“Now that we’re husband and wife, we high-five a lot more, talk in accents, come up with weird baby names and plan imaginary holidays together over our Americano coffees.”
But the biggest change of all, says Millen, is how focused they’ve both become. The couple’s big move to the US has stoked the fire in their bellies, and their new drive and dedication are already paying off.
After two years and 65 drafts in the making, Siobhan – and her writing partner Anna Francino – have penned the final lines of a feature-length film script and she is collaborating with her hubby on another.
And Millen finally found the inspiration to complete his TVNZ OnDemand web series Darryl: An Outward Bound Story, a labour of love he started working on in 2014.
“I did the final dialogue recording in our makeshift studio at home, which was essentially just me standing in my wardrobe,” he tells.
Starring him and his wife, Darryl is the tale of a young man who’s desperate to win the Taranaki Mountain to Surf Marathon. It was inspired by an eight-day discovery course his parents gave him for Christmas 15 years ago.
“I was 28 and a wee bit lost,” tells Millen. “I’d just finished an acting degree and I couldn’t seem to generate any work. It was the greatest gift. Being pushed out of my comfort zone was a daunting prospect, but I thought if I can find a way through those challenges, then it should be the same in life, right?
“In 2006, I asked if Outward Bound could sponsor me to go on another course. My plan was to keep a detailed journal, then write a one-man stage show based on my experiences, but I never did it.
“I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. But after Auckland Daze in 2014, we got a small amount of NZ on Air funding to turn it into a web series.”
After so many years in the making, Millen is thrilled that Kiwis can finally get to see Darryl. And Siobhan is also celebrating now that her husband can at last shave off the character’s trademark moustache.
“That thing took on a life of its own – little bits of food would get caught up in it and Millsy would have to comb it like a second set of hair,” she says with a shudder. “It’s safe to say there was very little kissing on set.”