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Mind

Why Shortland Street's Ana Scotney was forced to quit social media

Ana’s learning to live with the often negative attention her Shorty character attracts.

By Marilynn McLachlan
Ana Scotney is no stranger to diving into uncomfortable situations. The actress, who plays Shortland Street's Angel Schmidt, is part of a squad that swims in Wellington Harbour at 6.30am.
With temperatures that can plummet to just 10°C and with no wetsuit in sight, her chilly hobby has been the perfect training ground for her experience as one of the hospital drama's most polarising characters.
"It's taught me mental fortitude," Ana says laughing, snapping her fingers in the style of her alter ego. "It's good to push yourself physically and physiologically, and afterwards it makes me feel calm and focused.
"It's like your capacity gets bigger for the things that you can do."
It is strength she's needed because Angel, with her talon nails, red lipstick and attitude that pushes the buttons of both residents of the hospital and fans alike, provoked a social media backlash that was so severe, Ana, 24, was forced offline.
And while she doesn't want to get into the specifics of things that have been said about her, the Wellington-born actress admits they were personal and difficult to deal with.
"It was hard work," she reveals. "But I took a break from Instagram and then I realised that no social media is actually rad, so I just don't have it right now. I don't have Facebook and I don't have Instagram."
In The Breaker-Uppers.
She does, however, keep a paper diary on hand where she writes and draws pictures – the complete opposite of her character who shares anything and everything online with her "angels".
"It was probably naïve of me to think that I can go on to literally the most-watched show in the nation being this hyper-femme Maori mixed-race Polynesian girl who's high-voltage as hell and not
have any reactions," reflects Ana. "I don't feel ready to engage in such passion because Shorty fans love their characters.
"It's a ritual of watching the show, which is why I wanted to be on it. You either love these people or hate them. And so I had to convey my girl Angel and then go away and live my life as Ana."
Thankfully, the backlash hasn't continued offline, with the actress finding that both she and her character are accepted at Auckland's Avondale markets, where she buys her vegetables at the weekend.
"It's an amazing Shorty hot spot and opposite to the trolls," explains Ana. "I've had these incredible experiences with kuia who work in the flea market. When Angel came out, one said to me, 'You pretty cow! You play that b** so well!' And I said, 'Oh thanks, sis.' And then she took a photo with me, saying her daughter was going to be so jealous. It was a crack-up!"
On Shorty with ambo Eddie (played by Rawiri Jobe)
The actress, who last year shot to fame for her role as Sepa in Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek's hit feature film The Breaker Upperers, is both quietly spoken and passionate when she talks to Woman's Day. And while she doesn't feel famous, Ana achieved success at a relatively young age.
By the time she graduated from Aotearoa's top drama school Toi Whakaari, she had constructed and performed in two solo plays that toured throughout the country.
She has also starred in multiple theatre productions, including The Contours of Heaven, which she co-created.
The award-winning show sees Ana play a whopping six young people from Hawke's Bay telling their stories, and has been selected by Creative NZ to go to New York as part of a festival showcasing our talent.
She's also worked as a designer on a cartoon that has been screened on Maori TV and fans will see her in a feature film in the near future.
A keen traveller, Ana spent seven weeks walking the length of Israel on her own when she was just 20 – and has Europe, Egypt, America and both Central and South East Asia ticked off her bucket list.
But at heart she's a Kiwi woman who says she'll always be telling stories, particularly local ones. "There's enough water under the bridge for New Zealand to define itself and start having conversations about who we are, what we are and what we want to be," she enthuses.
For now, though, she's happy playing her feisty Shortland Street character, who Ana admits can be her own worst enemy.
"She's bang on and will be really forward, but when it comes to self-preservation and saving face, I think, 'Hey girl, you could just say sorry without all the rigmarole.'"
But while they have their differences, the actress does admit she and Angel have one surprising thing in common – Coco Chanel! Angel is often quoting the French fashion designer and businesswoman, and Ana is enamoured with her place in history.
"She broke new ground for women to be able to wear comfortable and luxurious clothing," she declares.
"She was self-made, mana motuhake [autonomous] and just changed the game for women's fashion in a lifetime – and she paid for everything herself!"

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