Grey’s Anatomy star Kate Walsh heaps praise on WA Premier Mark McGowan’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic

Caitlyn Rintoul & Jenna ClarkeThe West Australian
Grey’s Anatomy star Kate Walsh — who made WA home amid the coronavirus pandemic — has labelled Premier Mark McGowan’s handling of the crisis as “exemplary”.
Camera IconGrey’s Anatomy star Kate Walsh — who made WA home amid the coronavirus pandemic — has labelled Premier Mark McGowan’s handling of the crisis as “exemplary”. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

Grey’s Anatomy star Kate Walsh — who has made WA home since the coronavirus pandemic — has heaped praise on Premier Mark McGowan for his “exemplary” handling of the crisis and revealed her plans to bring a streaming show to the State.

Cocooned far away from her home in virus-ravaged New York and family across the US, the actor and producer has felt “fortunate” to have been grounded in WA after an impromptu holiday to Perth in March.

With little choice but to stay when COVID-19 prompted the Federal Government to close international borders, Walsh has since embraced the West Aussie lifestyle after settling in Cottesloe.

“It's a really tricky time. Mark McGowan handled it so well with locking down and people were vigilant about social distancing, paid attention and adhered to the different lockdown phases.

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“I wouldn't trade anything for being safe. People back home are like ‘what, you don't wear masks? You're allowed to go to the gym? You can go to a restaurant?

“As much as I would like to be able to go home and come back, there are surges and different rounds coming. How it's been handled here, like I said, is so exemplary and I feel very fortunate to be able to have a normal life here.”

The Hollywood star has been making the most of her time in the State, from getting her diving ticket off Rottnest and seeing turtles off Exmouth to soaking up some “Broome time” Walsh has been ticking off bucket list destinations and experiences.

Speaking to The West Live podcast host Jenna Clarke, she revealed Ningaloo Reef was one of her favourite spots.

“There's so much to explore and see — part of what is so beautiful here. I'm just in love with it,” she said.

“Ningaloo Reef was like nothing I've ever seen before.

Actress Kate Walsh at Ningaloo Reef during coronavirus isolation.
Camera IconActress Kate Walsh at Ningaloo Reef during coronavirus isolation. Credit: Twitter

“The reef is so pristine — and I've gone snorkelling and diving everywhere. A lot of them are bleached out so it's just incredible how healthy Ningaloo is.

“To be able to walk right out and snorkel and see there's just mass amounts of marine life — we had a perfect day.

“We just kayaked out and just snorkelled around, we didn't have to dive. Everything was there.”

Mark McGowan handled it so well with locking down and people were vigilant about social distancing, paid attention and adhered to the different lockdown phases.

- US actor Kate Walsh

Walsh said another reason she loved WA so much was because it was “literally the only place in the world that's doing theatre”.

She has featured front and centre in American playwright Sharr White’s Tony-nominated Broadway drama The Other Place at the new Fremantle Theatre Company. The play’s opening night on October 17 was to a sell-out crowd.

Dalip Sondhi and Kate Walsh rehearse for The Other Place in Fremantle.
Camera IconDalip Sondhi and Kate Walsh rehearse for The Other Place in Fremantle. Credit: Courtney McAllister/The West Australian

“We've got an incredible cast of actors Dalip Sondhi, Lucy Kate Westbrook, Mararo Wangai,” she said.

“Chris Edmund who used to run WAAPA when Jai Courtney was there and Hugh Jackman — he's in town so he has directed.

“It's just been delightful to be able to get the community together and in to see theatre. Local businesses contributed to help make (Fremantle Theatre Company) happen. It's just incredible.”

She renewed calls for WA to become a filmmaking hotspot, after spruiking the State in June on Seven’s Perth-produced current affairs program Flashpoint.

Walsh said WA had a unique opportunity to build a production studio that will not only create jobs for local talent but also attract big names.

“It was one of the first thoughts I had. Because there isn't a studio here or sound station, you're not accessible to big international productions. WA is not on the map right now. It's not even a consideration,” she said.

“There's a lot of incredible artists right here in WA, cinematographers, camera operators, crew, post and pre-production and, of course, actors and writers and directors that come out of WAAPA.

“You can not only create jobs for them... people can stay here and not have to leave. It'll just build jobs, community and another, I think, viable resource.

“It's pretty exciting to bring in another business and be able to compete with the east. It has that ripple effect of catering, restaurants, hotels and rentals and property.

“My aim is to also bring a streaming show here in early 2021. Even without a stage being built we could do one, so that's in the works now.

“I have an idea already in mind but I'm just very excited to do it here. Hopefully it'll be sort of a bridge between now and when a studio is built.”

Walsh will also take up a starring role at Telethon 2020 this weekend.

“I'm going right after my play. Sunday night, I'm on the closing panel. I don't know exactly what that means but I'm looking forward to it,” she said.

“The amount of money that they raise — it's just incredible, so I'm excited to be a part of that.”

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