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Interviews > Jessica Muschamp

Back in 1988, as popular young characters like Scott, Charlene, Mike and Jane began to grow up, move on and leave Ramsay Street, a new group of teenagers was introduced to Neighbours, including Jessica Muschamp as Sharon Davies. Here, Jessica tells us about her experiences as a Ramsay Street resident…

Can you tell us a little about what you were doing before you won the role as Sharon?
Okay, so I was 17, I was at school doing my final year of school, my VCE. I had had my first professional work the previous year in a miniseries called Dusty The Series. That was an amazing experience and I learned so much and made some amazing friends. I'd had a few auditions after that, got close to getting some other things, but didn't get them. Was pretty gutted not to get them, to be honest. And then I think I did a commercial early in the year of 1988, and then shortly after that I had the audition for Neighbours.

Do you remember much about that audition?
Back in those days, you would do what's called a general audition when things were quiet. You’re not auditioning for a particular character, you’re just reading a previous script and and performing that. And that's what I did the previous year. After I did Dusty, I went in and met Jan Russ and Jane Daniels, who was the casting assistant at the time, and yeah, I'm pretty sure it was Kylie's first scene that they gave me as my general audition scene. And then they put those auditions on file. I was thinking I would never hear back, but then in April 1988, they called me in and said they wanted me to read for this part. So they sent me the script - probably faxed it to my dad’s work in those days. Then I basically had to learn a long scene for the next day and I also had a French exam the next day that was going towards my final mark. So there was a lot going on. I remember doing the French test in the morning and then getting picked up and taken up to the city to do this audition.

I felt good about it, but I certainly didn't expect to get the role. I do remember this kind of feeling of, I don't know, like standing on the precipice of something amazing, like things are about to change, and my world was about to get shaken up, but I didn't know how. It was beyond anything I could have imagined. And then, so that was a Wednesday, the audition. And then on the Friday I got a call at home saying that I'd got the part and oh my goodness, I was absolutely beside myself. I was so excited, couldn't contain myself. I wasn't allowed to tell anybody about it.

That weekend I had an intensive exam preparation course with some friends, and some of them were massive Neighbours fans, and they were talking about what was going on and it was all I could do not to say anything the whole weekend because it was a pretty big secret to hold. But I managed and then I started filming probably the next week or the week after, like pretty soon after getting the part. I started just after Mark Stevens, who played Nick, and Rachel Friend, who played Bronwyn, Sharon’s sister. And so they had a little bit of an advantage on me, as they got to know the crew and the cast before I did. So I was kind of a little bit behind the eight ball in that they knew everyone and I was kind of the new person.

Sharon's arrival came only a few episodes after the departure of Kylie Minogue as Charlene. Did you feel any pressure coming in as the newest young female cast member, given Kylie’s success and all of the press attention on her? What was it like to join such a successful show?

Kylie left the day before I started and I literally walked in on her leaving party on my orientation day. She was in the green room surrounded by the rest of the cast, and they were saying their goodbyes - one of the wardrobe guys was showing me around the studio just so I could find my bearings. And I opened the green room door and there's Kylie saying goodbye to her colleagues and friends - it felt like a very private, very personal kind of heartfelt gathering. And I felt really awkward that I'd interrupted it, even though it wasn't my fault because I didn't walk in deliberately or anything. And then the wardrobe guy (joking but I didn’t realise) told me that ‘around the corner, there's this guy that we use as an extra sometimes’, and I thought, ‘Oh, thank goodness, somebody else feeling a little bit out of place.’ And so I put this big grin on my face and poked my head around the corner to say hello. And it was Jason Donovan! So, yeah, that was awkward. I was just grinning at him like a mad fool, thinking he was going to be in a similar situation to me. But of course he was very much part of the farewell and very much part of the important people to Kylie.

How did I feel about replacing Kylie? Well, as I said, Rachel Friend came in before me and there was a lot of kind of hype around her arrival. There was a lot of publicity about the fact that Bronwyn was soon going to go out with Mike. Of course, Annie Jones was still in the show. I guess those two were seen as the heir apparent to Kylie. But I think, you know, I was the perky blonde with curly hair, so I guess that fitted the mould. But I wasn't skinny like Kylie, and I didn't have any inclination to become a pop star. So that was different.

At that time, Neighbours was kind of ‘changing the guard’ for the very first time in a way. Well, maybe the first time since they moved to Channel Ten. So they had the original cast at Channel Seven, then they moved to Channel Ten and some of those cast left and some stayed. And then they brought in Kylie and Jason and Annie and Guy, and they had, you know, the teenagers storylines and stuff. And then they had the wedding and they had those teenagers growing up, and then they started to leave. So they had to pass the baton onto a whole new group of teenagers, which was really, I guess, Kristian Schmidt, who played Todd, Mark Stevens and myself because we all played school kids. So in terms of taking on that role of the young tearaway, yeah it was pressure, but not in the way that you might think. No one suggested that I would be the ‘new Kylie’, that's for sure. If anything that mantle fell onto Rachel's shoulders. And yes, she was always sort of seen as the pretty one, and I was the sparky one. I guess. They had to pigeonhole us into little publicity boxes, so they knew how to market us.

But yeah, when you think of how many characters have come and gone from Ramsay Street in the years since we left, it's pretty extraordinary. But I think we were the first ones really to take over after Kylie and Jason, who left not long after. So it was ground that hadn't been covered before. It was kind of unprecedented, we had to kind of blaze our own trail and work out how that was going to work for ourselves. And yeah, that was that was an interesting time certainly to be in the show. It was rating through the roof around the world, you know, regularly there were 30% of Australians watching it every night. Same with Britain, maybe more so, you know, it was crazy popular and we inherited that and we just got to run with it. And we were really lucky in that sense that, you know, we were on TV at a time where there wasn't much else short of going to the cinema or renting a video - you pretty much had to watch what was on the box at the time. So that was a benefit for us that there was a lot less choice. Not that choice is a bad thing. It's not, but it was just a different set of circumstances then and a different world, really. Entertainment was very different back then.

How would you describe the character of Sharon? Did you enjoy playing her?
She was a fantastic character. She was full of energy, ran at things like a bull at a gate. Didn't have self-doubt. Didn't second guess herself at all - was not like me in that sense, I overthink things. And as I've got older, I probably overthink things even more. Yeah, she was confident. She wouldn't take no for an answer when she really, really wanted something or someone. She was not afraid to speak her mind. She spoke truth to power on many occasions, including to Paul Robinson and the headmaster, Mr. Muir. And Hilary, Aunt Edie and Mrs Mangel. She saw herself as an equal to those adults where, as some of the people her age might have, you know, been annoyed by them but not stood up to them. She was always happy to stand up for what she saw was an injustice. I don't think she was rude necessarily, but she was certainly really blunt and really kind of in your face sometimes.

You never had to guess what Sharon was thinking. She would always tell you whether through body language or verbally. She loved to scheme and she loved to prank. She loved to stir things up a bit. She was always one for wanting to go to a party or go to the dance or have fun, and that kind of sense of enthusiasm just spilled over, I think, for me. And her energy as well. She was a joy to play. She was certainly a lot more confident than I ever was at that age, and that was a really fun thing to play as well, because it meant that I was kind of having to come out of my shell a bit and maybe she encouraged me to do that when I first got there and chatted to the adults, and I think they all thought I was a bit like Sharon in that I was a bit, you know, irreverent and disrespectful. But that wasn't it at all. I was just taking a leaf out of her book. So, yes, she was great fun to play.

Were there any storylines that you particularly enjoyed? And any that you weren’t so keen on?
One of the storylines that I absolutely loved was at the start of my second year, when Sharon and Nick ran away. Nick was going fruit picking up north and Sharon decided she wanted to come with him and didn't tell anyone. And so they took off and they were hitchhiking up into the countryside and they had probably a week away, maybe a bit more, and they had to get jobs and camp in the bush. Yeah, and, meanwhile, back in Ramsay Street, they were panicking. What's happened to them? I think they knew Nick was going, but I think they didn't know where Sharon was. And of course, days before mobile phones, they couldn't call us or track us. So that was a really fun storyline to play. We got to go to lots of different locations. We got to do crazy things. One location that I really hated was this battery farm. I'm very much a vegetarian and animal rights person in my own life, and so going to film at a place where chickens were held in horrible cages was really confronting and really sad and made me feel really sick actually. I just didn't want to be there. But the storyline was good, the farmer's daughter had a crush on Nick, and Sharon did not like that very much, and so she emptied a bucket of chook poo over the girl!

Yeah, Sharon was a little bit possessive when it came to her boyfriend. There was another episode where Lucy Robinson was also hitting on Nick, and Sharon didn't like that, so she pushed her into the pool at Lassiters. So, you know, she would always get jealous and she would fight for her man. And yeah, those storylines were lots of fun. And then later in the runaway storyline, when we were hitchhiking, we get picked up by a guy called Skinner who is bad news. Nick really didn't want to go in the car with him, and then Sharon got in the car and then Skinner took off, effectively kidnapping her, and Nick then had to work out how to get her back. Now, Skinner was played by a really good friend of mine called Mat Stevenson, who had been my love interest in Dusty The Series, and he played a sweet, innocent country boy and I played a stuck up city girl. So it was kind of complete opposite characters and it was great to be reunited with Mat. He then went on to be a baddie in Home and Away, and he was the one responsible for killing Bobby. And yeah, so he kind of got himself a bit typecast as a baddie, but he's not a baddie. He's a really good guy. But they were so fun to film, those scenes, because I had two of my closest friends, closest acting friends with me, Mark Stevens and Mat Stevenson, and we were out on the road on location and just having a ball - it was a great time.

Other storylines that I loved - in the first months, I think, that Sharon was there, she had so much to do, which was fantastic. There was the auction where I dressed up as an old lady to try and stop my Aunt Edie from buying a house on Ramsay Street and then accidentally bought the house myself at the age of 16. Oops. Edie came to visit and she got stuck up a tree trying to rescue some kittens, and I blackmailed her into letting Bronwyn and myself continue to see the boys we liked. There was the nude modelling storyline where Nick, who was an artist, goes to a life modelling class and who should be the model, but his girlfriend, Sharon. And honestly, I did not think I would need to put into my contract at the age of 17 that I would not do nudity, especially not on Neighbours. But luckily they had a body double. But it was quite confronting when I read those scenes because I was like, ‘What? I have to take my what off?!’ So that was pretty funny. But yeah, I don't think they'd do that these days.

As for stories I wasn't so keen on. Well, there's the obvious elephant in the room, and that was me. According to the producers, I needed to lose weight, so they put the character on a diet and therefore I was on a diet and I’d had some eating disorder issues previously. So it was quite a big trigger for me. But things were handled very differently back then. I didn't talk to anyone about it. It wasn't something that was spoken about. And so yeah, I went on to quite a strict diet and lost quite a lot of weight and the character went onto a diet because of something she said to Jane about wanting to be a model. And then everybody kind of said, ‘Well, you're not going to be a model looking like that.’ So then she decided to diet and she starved herself and that culminated with her fainting and falling into the pool. It was a pretty confronting storyline and these days would be seen as ‘body shaming’. Fortunately these days they are more attuned to having diversity of body shapes and sizes, and of people's heritage and background. Their sexuality, their viewpoint on the world. There's a lot of improvements that Neighbours has made in the last few years about diversity and about, you know, including people and about being a snapshot of real life rather than trying to airbrush everyone into being bikini models. So that's nice. That's a good improvement. Well done to the producers. Currently, it's a breath of fresh air, really.

Were there any cast members who you particularly enjoyed working with?
Oh, yes. There were some awesome people around in those days. Ian Smith, who played Harold, was a huge mentor to me and just so funny and so encouraging and very different to Harold. Anne Charleston's just a beautiful, lovely, sweet, funny person with a great sense of humour - she and Ian were a double act. The two of them were just hilarious. Anne Haddy, beautiful, kind matriarch of the show. Yes, she was a lovely lady. She came to my 21st after I'd left and lived overseas for a while and then I came back and invited her. I think Ian and Anne Charleston were going to come and something happened, but Anne Haddy and her lovely husband James, made the trek down to my parents farm and had a lovely evening. Bless them.

Who else? Oh, Annie Jones - all the Annes; Jones, Charleston and Scott Pendlebury, who was Hilary, was also a lovely person. Yeah. Annie Jones was really sweet and funny and extremely welcoming and warm to us newbies, because she knew what we were about to go through. And one of her best friends was Fiona Corke, who played Gail, who's also a really good person to hang out with. And of course, Stefan Dennis, sweet, funny. When he left the show, we caught up a few times in the UK and I saw him in a few shows. I'm not sure if he saw me in any of mine, but that's okay. He has a real sense of fun and mischief, which you would not know from looking at Paul. He always seems to be grumpy and on the take. Whereas Stefan is nothing like that.

Mark Stevens, who I’ve previously mentioned who played my boyfriend Nick. There was no romance between us, we were just like brother and sister. Lucinda Cowden who is Melanie - she & Shaz had a lot in common I think! Jason Donovan - in the brief time that I worked with him, he was always really pleasant and fun and, you know, nothing ‘showbiz A-hole’ about him whatsoever. He's just a really down to earth, really grateful guy who always seemed to be aware of how lucky he was. Yeah, they’re probably the main cast that I really loved working with. The crew, I loved hanging out with the crew. Wardrobe people, makeup people, obviously. But then when you're out and about, the camera crew and the props department, always good people to talk to and fun little in-jokes to be had, yeah, they're pretty special.

What led to your departure from Neighbours after two years?
Simple. I got written out. There was a whole exodus. There was a changing of the guard in the producers team. And back in those days, Grundy's, as it was then, their head office was in Sydney. So they were very far removed from us down in Melbourne and they made some real wholesale changes when they brought in new producers. They got rid of a whole lot of us and it was pretty heartbreaking actually, and devastating at the time. I might have stayed in another year, but I would have liked the option to choose my own ending and choose my own departure. But sadly, it was not to be. The main reason was because Rachel Friend and her then boyfriend on screen and off screen were leaving to go to another network. And so they were written out pretty quickly and the producers didn't think it made sense for Sharon to be there without her sister, which I guess is arguable. But then I think they could write it in any way they want to. They could have made it that Sharon decides that she wants to stay because she wants to finish her school year or whatever. But they didn't do that. And I remember the day that I was told that I wasn't being renewed and it was just heartbreaking. I cried the whole way home. Yeah, it was a pretty dreadful day.

You know, looking back, they they kind of had a ‘clean sweep’ of cast and brought in a whole bunch of new people. And that didn't necessarily work for them straight away. I think ratings dropped to start with, from what I remember being told anyway. And, you know, it took audiences a while to get used to the new characters and the new direction of the show, but then it's reinvented itself 400 times since.

I think producers think that show is successful by keeping it fresh and introducing new cast and new faces. Yes, I think that might be part of it, but I actually think the opposite is true, that people like to tune in and see a familiar face. Anyway, I was already heading over to the UK that year to be bridesmaid for one of my best friends, so I'd requested time off to do that. So they knew that I would be away for some of the time. So I just stayed in the UK and then I ended up getting work there, getting an agent there and Equity there and just worked and lived in the UK on and off. Came home, but lived in the UK on and off for about seven years.

Did you stay in touch with any of your cast-mates in the years that followed?
Yes, I did stay in touch with a lot of them. As I said, Stefan Dennis and I caught up a bit when he was in the UK and I was there. I saw Anne Haddy at my 21st. I saw Anne Charleston quite a bit in the years that followed, tried to keep up with Ian Smith, but he's a hard man to catch. Who else? Mark Stevens. He moved to the UK a little bit after I did so we saw each other a little bit. I saw Lucinda in England a few times. But yeah, I mean, it's hard. Once people have left, they kind of go their own way and do their own thing. And of course in those days in the early nineties, there were no mobile phones, there was no email, there was no texting, there was no kind of easy, quick way of getting in touch with someone. You either had to have the landline number or write them a letter, or if you had their street address or their agent's address. And so I guess it was easier to lose contact with people then than it is now when you can just shoot them a message on insta or messenger or whatever.

Do you ever get recognised from your Neighbours role these days?
So yes, I do get recognized. Not as much as I did obviously in the height of when I was on air, you know. But people do know that they know me from somewhere and they go through all the questions of what school did you go to or did you used to live in such and such a street or did we work together somewhere?

Actually, when my oldest child was quite little, she was about five or six, we were out somewhere one day and somebody came over to chat to us in this cafe. And they were going through all the regular questions, did we go to school together or do I know you from this or that? And my little one just rolled her eyes and said, ‘No, she was on TV. She used to be in Neighbours’, just like this world weary voice of this little child saying stop bothering us. It was pretty funny, especially since she didn't know anything about Neighbours. She'd never watched me in it. She just knew of the fact that mum had been on TV at some point in the past and that sometimes people came up and asked about it.

There was another day we were all out as a family bowling, and there was this big bloke a couple of lanes down from us, really big, burly, scary looking bloke, actually, lots of tattoos, you know, singlet - he didn't look very friendly, put it that way. And he kept looking at us, and we finished our game and went out to the car park and were leaving and he came out after us and he came up to me and he said, ‘I just want to tell you that I thought you were fantastic in Neighbours. You were the best thing. I loved your character, Sharon, and I thought you were amazing. And I wish that they would bring you back. And I wish we saw you on TV more.’ And I almost, honestly, I almost burst into tears. It was such a lovely, unexpected conversation. And I thought, Wow, that's a really good lesson in not judging a book by its cover. And, you know, the reason he was staring wasn't because he was being aggressive. It was because he recognised me and wanted to say something. And I thanked him and said it meant a lot to me to hear that. So yeah, sometimes it can be really lovely to hear from people and hear what they their memories of the character are in that time.

You made a brief return last year, for what was believed to be Neighbours’ final episode. Can you tell us a little about filming that, and how your return came about?
Yes, that was a really lovely surprise. When I heard the show was finishing up, obviously, I was really sad for everyone and devastated for me because I thought, I'm never going to get a chance to be Sharon again. I was pretty gutted, and I contacted the producer, Jason Herbison, and I said I would really love to have an opportunity to come back even just for a tiny cameo. Doesn't have to be a big story arc or anything. He was very receptive, but he explained that he had so many storylines that he had to wrap up with current cast, and that they just didn't have room to include anyone else. And I appreciated his honesty, I was devastated, but I understood. But he did invite me to come to the set on the penultimate day of filming. Just me, just as my own little goodbye, just to come in and see everyone and say bye. And that meant the world to me to be invited back.

It was at the end of COVID, but we still had protocols where we had to wear masks, and I had my glasses on, my hair up and a mask on. I went over to say hi to Stefan Dennis, and he just kind of did this whole ‘Hi’, you know, like I was a fan that happened to be in the studio. And I just looked at him and went, ‘Stef, it's me, Jess.’ And he just burst out laughing and was like, ‘Oh my God, I didn't recognize you with the mask’. So we had a lovely chat and catch up. Later on, I spoke to Lucinda Cowden on the phone, which was really nice too, because we'd been friends back in the day. And we've met up a couple of times since last year.

But yeah, so basically one of the line producers asked me if I would be prepared to do a little piece to camera, which was to wish Melanie and Toadie well at their wedding - they said that they didn't have very many people from Mel's side, so it would be good to get Sharon because they'd been friends. And I was so excited. I couldn't believe it. And apparently they had asked my agent at the time, and she used my old contact details, so that was the first I'd heard of it, when I was out on set. So yeah, that was a nice surprise. They had written some lines for all of us, the cameos and yeah, basically it all got cut because of time! So all I said in the final cut was, ‘Hi, Mel, it’s me, Shaz.’ But yeah, it was really fun to do and I was really rapt to be asked to do it. And then, of course, it wasn't the wrap up because the show came back. So what a great plot twist. Thanks Amazon Freevee. We all really appreciate it.

Would you ever consider returning to the show again, now that it’s been revived?
Oh, yes, absolutely. I would love to. As I said before, Sharon is one of the favourite roles that I've ever got to play. And obviously, it's the role that I'm best known for still. And I would love a chance to go back in and catch up with some friendly faces and meet some new ones. There's quite a few cast there now that were in it when I was in it, so it wouldn't be such a stretch for Shaz to turn up and catch up with them. So yes, fingers crossed. Please, Jason, please, Shane, please write me back in. And also, I think there'd be quite a lot of fans from the eighties and nineties in the OG days who would appreciate seeing Sharon again. I like to think that she was, you know, a well-liked character. And I honestly think as an adult, she wouldn't have changed much. I think she'd still speak her mind, if anything more than she did as a teenager, and she'd still get herself into scrapes and still not learn any lessons and just keep doing it, which is part of the fun of Sharon - she was kind of like a Weeble. You know, those weird little dolls that just get knocked over and they get back up again. Yeah. So it would be great to come back and have some modern storylines to play. I would love that.

Where did your career take you after leaving Neighbours?
Well, first it took me to the U.K. As I said before, I was going over for a wedding and I stayed, got an agent, got into various shows, played Nancy in one of the revivals of Oliver that was, not in the West End, but it was in Kent, in a beautiful old theatre in Margate. I did panto, of course, because that's compulsory. I did various tours. I did some pub theatre. Basically, I always joked that I worked my way down - I started at the pinnacle, which was working in one of the most popular shows in the world. Incredibly lucky at the age of 17 to get that and then left when I was 19, nearly 20, went and did some well-paid theatre and some well well-reviewed and well-watched theatre, then did some slightly less well-attended theatre, then did profit share, which means you don't get paid unless the the company producing it makes their money back, which never happens. So you basically don't get paid.

And then I went to drama school. I went to LAMDA in London, which was an extraordinary experience, just a brilliant experience. I did the one year postgrad course, even though I wasn't actually a post-grad, but because I'd had industry experience, I qualified to get into that, made some great friends who I'm still in touch with now. A lot of them were Americans who came over for the year, quite a few Brits, only two Aussies, myself and one other girl. I learned a hell of a lot in the space of a year. I would have loved to have done the three year full course, but in those days there wasn't the funding that there is now in terms of it being attached to a university and, you know, able to to do it on a student loan, you had to pay upfront. And I just couldn't afford to commit to three years unfortunately. And I had some bad luck along the way in terms of agents. I had some really shonky agents. I had agents that were supposedly really good, but they didn't work very hard for me. They had massive celebrity clients and they really didn't need to push for me because they already had lots of commission coming in. I had agents that stole money from clients, including me. So I've had some bad luck in terms of that. I've also had a few situations where I would be cast in a show and then for whatever reason, it wouldn't get up, or the funding would fall through or somebody would get sick and not be able to do it. So at the risk of sounding sorry for myself, I have had a few kind of near-misses with fame, as it were, and it's frustrating that it just never kind of took off for me in the way that it has for some other ex-Neighbours people. You know, guys like Alan Dale and Guy Pearce, who seem to have gone into the stratosphere. And of course, Margot Robbie, but you can't compare yourself to the goddess Margot Robbie. It's not possible. She's amazing - I would love to work with her one day. Absolutely love to. I'm going to put that out into the universe. I have script ideas that I would love to work on with her and her company.

What are you up to these days?
I went to university and studied a creative arts degree and did writing and media and theatre and stuff, and then became a drama teacher, which I've been doing for probably about 15 years, but with the same company, Stage School Australia for about ten years now. I teach kids after school and on weekends, and it's a great job and I love it. I really love inspiring kids to love performance and love acting and love the theatre and enjoy themselves, get to know themselves through playing characters. And, you know, it's not every kid that that does after school cricket who goes on to be Shane Warne. Not every basketballer goes on to be, you know, Michael Jordan and the same with kids doing drama. Very few probably go into professional work and that's okay because drama gives you confidence, it gives you teamwork, it gives you a sense of empathy, it gives you a sense of self. It helps you stand up in front of people and speak. There are so many benefits to doing drama other than just the viewpoint of becoming a performer professionally that I would encourage everyone to let their kids have a try at it, because it's it's not just about becoming famous or, you know, any of that stuff. It's actually really good for personal development and just for life skills, really.

I also have three children, three beautiful daughters. They're all four years apart. So the oldest just turned 21, which I can't quite get my head around. Middle one is 17 and the little one is 12 going on 13. They are incredible people, I could not be prouder of them. If there was one thing in my life that I would never change, that is being mum to my three girls. I'm now a single mum and that's been a big challenge all through COVID and everything, but my kids and myself, we got through it. My eldest is studying at a Uni in Far North Queensland, about 2000kms from home and we really miss her. She is studying Science - Zoology and Marine Biology and she’s going to save the planet! My middle daughter is Year 11, and is amazing at art and costume design and writing and hopes to use her talents maybe in writing, animation, theatre or film - who knows?! And the little one is just my cheeky 6th Grader, about to go to high school next year. She says she wants to work with wildlife too like her big sister, but that may change! I wouldn’t be surprised if she became a paramedic or firefighter, she’s always been fascinated by sirens and lights!

What does the future hold?
I have endless ideas for films, series, novels, kids books - so many ideas and I guess not the confidence to see them through! Need to work on that. I wrote and directed a couple of short films, one of which was quite successful in the film circuit and got a distribution deal and was screened on QANTAS in-flight entertainment back in the mid 00’s. I’d love to expand as a director. Of course I would love to go back into Neighbours as an actor, as Sharon, but I’d also love to be a director’s attachment which means like a trainee director, learning from the best!

Since I was a kid I have had an ambition to work for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and I have never given up on that dream. I studied Shakespeare at LAMDA, and I would absolutely love one day to be part of the Royal Shakespeare Company - especially now my kids are getting older, it might be possible! Putting that out to the universe as well! I would love to work on Doctor Who because I think Russell T Davies is a genius, and I would absolutely love to work with him on anything - and I hear he’s a Neighbours fan! Shonda Rhimes, wow that would be amazing to work for her - Bridgerton would be an absolute gift. I’ve always wanted to do period drama so fingers crossed that might happen someday! As well as my own series that I’m writing set in World War I. Who knows, maybe Amazon Prime might work with me on that one because it is a huge scale, global scale drama about women in WW1. So yeah, there’s lots of creative things that I hope to achieve in the future. And coming back to the UK to work would be key to many of those dreams.

What do you think accounts for the huge success that Neighbours has achieved?
I think it's relatable. I think it's fun. There's always huge drama going on. Massive kind of out of this world, unbelievable drama. But there's also, you know, a good sense of comedy underneath it and that always helps. But I think if anyone really knew what the secret to success was, they would bottle it and be a billionaire because no one really knows. It's like catching lightning in a bottle - it’s impossible. So to come up with a show that has the longevity of Neighbours is one in a million. One in a hundred million probably. But yeah, I think the love and respect that the cast have for each other and the crew spills over onto the screen. I think it's pretty obvious that that happens. Yeah, I guess they just found the perfect blend.

Interview by Steve. Added on 28th September 2023