New Zealand actress Grace Palmer on what the lockdown has taught her

"As shitty as a lockdown is... I'm grateful for the roof over my head."
"As shitty as a lockdown is... I'm grateful for the roof over my head." Photo credit: Supplied.

My house, my bubble: As New Zealanders stay home to fight COVID-19, Fiona Connor is talking to well-known Kiwis about what's helping to pass the time, while learning more about their craft and passions. 

She spent close to three years in a key role on New Zealand's longest-running TV show, but Shortland Street is only one chapter in the evergrowing success of Grace Palmer. 

Since her introduction into the entertainment industry at just 13 as a budding interviewer on Small Blacks TV, the 25-year-old has climbed swiftly from project to project. 

Palmer got used to the cameras presenting What Now? as a teenager before moving into her role as Lucy Rickman on Shortland Street. In 2017, she saw a chance to build on her dreams and landed a role on Māori TV comedy Tongue Tied ahead of scooping her first big-time American film Adrift with Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin.

Today, her on-screen likeability has given her another pathway of opportunity as a social media personality with a knack for capturing a moment and turning it into something others can enjoy.  

Her openness and naturally comical disposition make an equal share of meaningful or goofy content, often providing helpful insights or advice while not taking life too seriously. 

With inspiration to feed her creative flair never far the performer in her makes total sense, growing up with the influence of step-dad TV and radio presenter Jason Gunn and veteran TV producers Tony Palmer and Janine Morrell-Gunn.

Her candour online has seen Palmer rise from on-screen actress to social media personality with an 85,000-strong following on Instagram alone.

Currently writing a TV show that received funding at the end of last year from the apartment she shares with her partner and friend, here Palmer tells Newshub what having an influence on others means to her, how she's keeping busy during lockdown and the thing she's unlikely to take for granted again. 

FC: Walk me through your average weekday routine during lockdown - how is life different? 

GP: I'm bloody useless in the mornings, but I try to get up early (by early I mean 8) for a workout before I'm into Skype meetings for most of the day. I'm a keen cook (and spend much of my life fantasising about my next meal) so I allow an hour or so to make dinner. In the evenings I'll watch telly or play a bit of guitar and/or piano - that's usually short-lived cause my bubble doesn't enjoy my singing as much as I do. 

FC: Are there any chores or activities you've completed around your house you've been putting off for ages? Discovered any new skills? 

GP: Turns out I'm anally retentive, so our apartment is very tidy... all the time. However, I have managed to mend a few bits and bobs and I'm slowly teaching myself to DJ. The neighbours are thrilled. 

Palmer has been in lockdown with her tāne Rawiri and bestie Harriet.
Palmer has been in lockdown with her tāne Rawiri and bestie Harriet. Photo credit: Supplied

FC: What are you doing to keep relaxed/productive with the time at home? 

GP: To relax - gin and a good book. For productivity - a schedule. I find I work best when there's structure or some form of routine. I constantly have a to-do list. 

FC: How are you maintaining good mental health? What is working for you to 'switch off'? 

GP: I'm one of those weird people who loves working out. Exercise makes me feel a million bucks, and I've found some awesome at-home training apps. I don't have much trouble switching off... in fact, that might be my problem haha. I'm a professional napper. 

FC: Has the lockdown encouraged you to reflect on anything? 

GP: I guess it's really put things into perspective. I definitely have a clearer idea of what's most important. As shitty as a lockdown is... I'm grateful for the roof over my head, the food in our pantry and the two wonderful people I'm lucky enough to self-isolate with. All of which are luxuries. 

FC: What are some of your favourites on Netflix you've seen lately? What makes for a good watch in your eyes? 

GP: I've consumed an eclectic mix of content. Tiger King, Sex Education season 2, Ozark season 3 and I really loved the Formula 1 series Drive to Survive. Fleabag is one of my all-time fav series, and (creator/lead) Phoebe Waller-Bridge has released her stage show to raise money for the NHS - you can donate and watch online. 

The 25-year-old's Instagram is full of laugh out loud-worthy humour.
The 25-year-old's Instagram is full of laugh out loud-worthy humour. Photo credit: Supplied.

FC: What takeaway are you missing the most? 

GP: Ramen!!! It's one of those things I could never recreate. Nothing beats comfort food. 

FC: With such a large following on social media, do you ever get nervous about posting? How do you combat any feelings of doubt but what's the best part about sharing aspects of your life?

GP: Of course! I get nervous all the time. I have a bizarre sense of humour, and I love making people laugh (at my own expense), but I'm constantly wary of stepping over the line. I'm thankful for my community of followers, and with that (I believe) comes a responsibility to give back, and support the voiceless. 

It's important to maintain a genuine social media presence, so when you ask people to give a shit about whatever you're campaigning for - they know it's truly important to you. There are facets of my life that I will always keep private. My most special moments and memories didn't/don't involve my phone, but I love how social media can effortlessly and instantly connect me with so many like-minded people. 

FC: Who are some of your people to follow and why? 

GP: Vice & Vice News - good journalism. They have a diverse range of interesting stories. 

Jameela Jamil - she's an actress and activist who's honest and hilarious. 

Chrissy Teigen - cause she's unapologetically herself, warts and all. 

FC: What is something you won't take for granted again? 

GP: My health.