Whangarei Actor 'Just Loving' The Experience Of A Lifetime | late 1999

Starring in a television programme, releasing an album and being declared a heart-throb in London has not gone to the head of Whangarei actor Caleb Ross. Seventeen-year-old Caleb plays ‘Lex’, a “bad boy with a good heart” in the futuristic teen sci-fi soap The Tribe, which airs in New Zealand on Channel 4 every Tuesday. Produced by New Zealand company Cloud 9, the programme tells the tale of a band of young people who have to live in a world where all the adults have died of a virus.

The Tribe is proving popular overseas, currently screening in the United Kingdom and has been bought by networks in the United States, Finland, Holland, Poland, Africa and Israel. The programme is becoming such a cult among its viewers overseas that many of them dress up as their favourite characters, with Ross’ character Lex among the more popular.

Among Ross’ first acting roles were parts in productions by WAODS (Whangarei Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society). From those humble beginnings he went on to act in New Zealand television shows such as Shortland Street , Hercules , Xena: Warrior Princess , Avondale Dogs and Plainclothes .

Ross has just finished working on an album - to be released early next year - and two music videos with the Tribe cast, working with UK record producer John Williams. Williams is known for his work with Debbie Harry, The Proclaimers and Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Ross said that swapping his acting script for a musical score was different, but a great learning experience. William Kircher, of Cloud 9, describes Ross as “a real find; one of the songs ‘This is the Place’ really goes off. Caleb moves well and with his theatre experience he looks really good,” Mr Kircher said.

Ross said he was the complete opposite to his bad character Lex. “I’m not like him. He bullies, he drinks, he does all sorts. But that’s what I love about acting. It gives you the opportunity to be somebody that you’re not,” he said. “By playing bad-boy roles I show sides I never have and it gets out pent-up emotion.”
Ross said although it was every teenager’s dream to live in a world devoid of adults, it would be chaos. “There would be a lot of problems. The Tribe deals with problems in really realistic ways. One girl wrote in and thanked a cast member for helping her overcome bulimia.” Ross said he wants to play Lex for as long as possible. “The longer the better and after that I’ll just see where I go.”

Mr Kircher said Ross was a very professional actor who was not star-struck or silly. "Caleb’s got a lot going for him. We have a third series in the pipeline (there are 52 episodes a series) which is an awful lot of camera experience for an actor. It will develop his strength and centre his acting. Despite working 12-hour days and being based in Wellington, Ross said he was “loving the experience of a lifetime”, but enjoyed returning to Whangarei to relax.

Editor’s note: this article is from an unknown NZ newspaper.