Markella Kavenagh on working with a team of empowering women in Stan’s Bad Behaviour

markella Kavenagh Stan Bad Behaviour

“It just became a really safe space for everyone.”

At just 23-years-old, Markella Kavenagh’s list of acting credits is impressive. From Stan’s The Gloaming and The True History of the Kelly Gang to multi-million dollar production, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, she’s fast becoming one of the most prolific talents of her generation.

Now, the Melbourne-born star is playing Portia in the Stan original Bad Behaviour — a four-part series which premieres on the streaming service on February 17. The darkly disturbing and visceral thriller — which is set in the unforgiving world of an exclusive girls boarding school, Silver Creek — dives into the epicentre of our teenage years where it’s bully or be bullied.

Mediaweek spoke to Kavenagh about how she approached the challenging role, the parallels between her own private schooling and what it was like working with a team of powerhouse women creatives.

Markella Kavenagh Stan Bad Behaviour

Markella Kavenagh on her “complicated” character, Portia

As far as the character goes, Portia sits undisputedly at the top of the food chain. She’s mercurial in temper, and her favours change on a seemingly arbitrary whim. On the surface she’s “untouchable” and “manipulative”, a façade of sorts which Kavenagh describes as “complicated”.

“Portia is such a complicated individual,” she said, admitting she had to prepare a personal backstory in order not to “judge her”. 

“I think it was really important to me that there was a distance between the two of us so that I could actually feel like her decision making and the way she treated others was coming from a really deep place of fear and vulnerability and insecurity.”

What Stan’s Bad Behaviour gets right about teenage life

Kavenagh herself went to a Private girls school in Victoria, and while there are certainly some striking differences in her own lived experience, the themes of “social hierarchy” and teen interaction were quite similar.

“The way that teenagers interact… it’s just so influenced by the support network around them,” she said.

I think it can just feel so easy if you’re in a space with people that you don’t know very well, or you’ve all got all these different past experiences, it’s very easy to feel alone and isolated. But I think it’s just school in general. I’m not sure that that’s anything that’s specific to a private school.”

Stan's Bad Behaviour Markella Kavenagh

Markella Kavenagh praises Bad Behaviour creative team 

Based on the book by Australian writer Rebecca Starford and directed by Corrie Chen, the series also starred a stellar cast of young talent including Jana McKinnon, Yerin Ha, Erana James and Tuuli Narkle.

Alongside the cast, the series was helmed by an all female lineup including writers Pip Karmel (Total Control) and Magda Wozniak (The Messenger) and producer Amanda Higgs (The Secret Life of Us).

For Kavenagh, it was really important to be “surrounded by people who are passionate.”

“It’s really important when you’re telling a story for it to be helmed by people who love telling the story,” she said. “It’s just really caring for these characters and really caring for the narrative, and that’s what we had with this series.”

And according to the young star, the team were “dedicated and committed” to including the actors in the storytelling.

“The creative team were really generous in offering stories about their own experiences to help us contextualise,” she said.

“It just became a really safe space for everyone to chat about their own experiences and it really connected us in another way too.”

Stream Stan Original series Bad Behaviour from February 17.

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