Falling in love with someone who works in a brothel is…. well, problematic. They’re in a tough situation which means you share that with them and experience this negative environment alongside them. For most of us that would be a situation to avoid but for Brooke Chamberlain it’s desirable, even enviable. That’s because Chamberlain is an actress in Australia recognized for her ability to capture sympathy for the characters she portrays on film, characters like Krystal in Phoenix Rising. This thriller presents a dark underworld in society which includes sex workers, murder, and revenge. Carefully navigating the delineation between the world we all know and the one we pretend doesn’t exist is Krystal, a mother who finds herself working in a situation she never expected in order to provide for her child. Brooke’s presentation of this woman is heart-wrenching and reminds us that very good people get caught in bad situations.
Some films are made for entertainment and some to present events/situations which need light shed upon them. Phoenix Rising is found at the intersection of these. Created in association with 'The Carly Ryan Foundation' and 'ACT for kids' children's charities, this film won Best Feature Film at the Australian Screen Industry Networks Awards. Phoenix Rising is the journey of a young mother whose world is torn apart when her teenage daughter is murdered by an online predator. Fueled by un-redeemable guilt, she uncovers an intricate web of deceit and embarks on a journey of self-annihilation, taking the perpetrators along for the ride.
Brooke Chamberlain appears as Krystal in the film. As a young single mother willing to do whatever it takes to provide for her daughter, Krystal accepts a job working at the desk of a brothel. Even though she isn’t selling her body, the atmosphere takes a piece of her soul. Chamberlain took the affect of a Bogan (Australia’s version of a hillbilly) for Krystal, portraying her as a compassionate woman who struggles with her own plight and that of those around her. The actress communicates, “Krystal is a very sweet person. One of the most enjoyable things as an actor is finding a way to fall in love with your character. Krystal has a very different background and life than I but that’s one of the best parts about our relationship, getting to know her. It’s an eye opening experience to find common ground with someone different from you. Krystal never had someone in her life to guide her towards good choices. As a result, she fell in with a dangerous crowd and using drugs to cope with her unhappiness and lack of nurturing real love. She woke up to this and reset her course but it’s very difficult to climb out of that hole.”
One of the most interesting parts for Chamberlain in becoming Krystal was the necessary duality of her nature. Her sweet compassionate side is perhaps her true nature but she must present a harsh and coarse exterior when working at the brothel; it’s her only way of avoiding despair and insanity. A glimpse of Krystal’s gentler side peers out at times to the women working in the brothel. This “to and fro” created many magical moments on film for the actress. Brooke’s ability to soften hearts towards a character who might otherwise appear easily categorized and flat is remarkable and did not go unnoticed by the industry. The producers of the Australian film One June Afternoon refer to Chamberlain’s performance as Krystal as the convincing factor for contacting her to star in their film. Perhaps no motto rings as true in the entertainment industry as the one which states, “The best advertisement is doing great work.”