WEST’S QUEEN OF THE WAGS
“I’M SO fired up and I’ve never been more ambitious than
I am now.”
That is Madeleine West on the set of Playing For Keeps, days before revelations emerge that the 38-year-old has separated from her partner, chef Shannon Bennett, after 13 years. West has a lot more on her plate than coping with the split and raising six children.
In weeks, West will begin a directing stint on Neighbours.
She is also busy scriptwriting and has already published parenting book Six Under Eight and children’s series Lily DVAP.
After years of putting her professional career on hold, West is going full steam ahead.
“My kids are at a good age for me to really dig deep into the (television) industry and I’m really enjoying it,” West says.
Playing For Keeps marks a new step in West’s acting career, as she’s playing the lead part.
The show is based around the lives of the women whose partners play for AFL club, the Southern Jets. West is Kath Rickards, wife of coach Brian Rickards. Kath prides herself on being the mentor and den mother to other club WAGs (wives and girlfriends).
Olympia Valance is Tahlia, girlfriend of Jets captain Connor Marrello. Other WAGs are played by Annie Maynard and Cece Peters.
“Kath is definitely the queen (of the WAGs),” West says. “I’d never seen a character like her on commercial television in Australia before.”
Valance had just moved to Hollywood after quitting
Neighbours when she was sent the script of Playing For Keeps.
“I thought ‘this is a really good one for me to come back for’,” the 35-year-old says. “Talia has so many levels and so much depth to her.
“I’m friends with lots of women that are with football players and I’ve taken quite a few things (for the Tahlia character) out of my own life.
“It (television celebrity) is a similar world (to football WAGs). You’re in the public eye, you have to put on a bit of a show but you also have to keep something for your friends and family.
Valance says she is in awe of West’s ability to juggle acting, directing, and writing with the demands of motherhood.
“I don’t know how she does it — she is Wonder Woman,” Valance says.
West, like Kath, is something of a den mother on the set.
“I have five daughters and I want to be a role model for them,” West says. “You can’t have everything all the time but you can give it a red hot go.”
WATCH PLAYING FOR KEEPS, Channel 10, September 19, 8.30pm
MADELEINE WEST & OLYMPIA VALANCE