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Breakthrough Actress: Mia Wasikowska

Hollywood Award honoree

As she accepts a Hollywood Award tonight, Mia Wasikowska has another reason to celebrate: It’s her 21st birthday.

The actress’s breakthrough roles this year were “very opposite” experiences, says the Aussie from Canberra who undoubtedly inspired many young girls with her independent Alice in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” and a college-bound teen who seeks out her sperm donor dad in “The Kids Are All Right.”

“I was 18 when we shot ‘Alice,’ and it was three months of green screen and I had limited time with other actors. ‘Kids’ was shot in 21 days, a short but great shoot,” she recalls.

Her back-to-back hits have given Waskikowska the ability to choose her next roles, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and, for Gus van Sant, a terminally ill teenager in “Restless.”

It wasn’t until she was 15 that Wasikowska considered acting. “I was a dancer and really into that, like 35 hours a week for full-time dance, mainly ballet,” she notes. “People think I’m crazy when I say the dance world is harder than (acting), but dance is on a whole other level of intensity compared to a young actor’s life.”

Her big break came at age 16 with the first season of HBO’s “In Treatment, which she says “remains the best experience I’ve ever had.”

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