BIGASK

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

BY COLIN VICK­ERY

IT’S SET to be an ex­cit­ing year for Home and Away star Tessa James. The 19-year-old, who plays Ni­cole Franklin on the Chan­nel 7 soapie, has just an­nounced her en­gage­ment to Syd­ney Roost­ers rugby league player Nate Myles.

James is also fac­ing her tough­est act­ing chal­lenge, with Franklin re­veal­ing in last sea­son’s fi­nale that she was preg­nant with Penn’s (Chris­tian Clarke) baby.

Penn met a nasty end— Alf (Ray Meagher) was ar­rested for his murder. Ni­cole has al­ways been a bit of a spoiled princess. Will this preg­nancy mean she will have to grow up? I think Ni­cole is fairly ma­ture for her age. She’s been through a lot more than most 18 or 19-yearolds. Be­ing preg­nant is go­ing to have her mak­ing some se­ri­ous de­ci­sions and quickly. How­did you re­act when the pro­duc­ers told you they had this preg­nancy in mind for Ni­cole? The one thing that I said to Cameron Welsh, our pro­ducer, when I started on Home and Away was, ‘‘I will do any­thing you ask me to do, but the one thing I don’t want you to do is make my char­ac­ter preg­nant. He said, ‘I prom­ise’. Then he called me into his of­fice (three years later) and said, ‘We’re go­ing to make Ni­cole preg­nant, I hope that’s all right’. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, are you se­ri­ous?’ It worked out when he ex­plained how they were go­ing to do it. It be­came quite a chal­lenge. I was re­ally ex­cited and felt lucky to be asked to do some­thing so se­ri­ous. Teenage preg­nancy is a hot-but­ton is­sue. The writ­ers and pro­duc­ers and I are do­ing our best to por­tray it as re­al­is­ti­cally as pos­si­ble and to put a pos­i­tive mes­sage out there. Peo­ple go through things like this — nor­mal teenage girls. Did you do any re­search for the preg­nancy sto­ry­line? Ev­ery­one says don’t drink the wa­ter at our work be­cause all of the girls on our crew are preg­nant — three make-up girls, five wardrobe girls, they’re all preg­nant, so I had a lot of help. We also have a nurse on set who helped me. The last timewe­spoke you were in Mel­bourne to visit fam­ily but I gather they havenow­moved to Syd­ney to be nearer to you. They moved up last Oc­to­ber. It’s nice to have them with me. It must have been a big up­heaval for you to move to Syd­ney at 16 for Home and Away. It was a huge chal­lenge, but maybe be­cause I was so young and naive I wasn’t scared. My fam­ily has al­ways been re­ally sup­port­ive (which helped). Con­grat­u­la­tions on your en­gage­ment. What made you de­cide to get en­gaged at 19? I think that you just know. I trust my in­stincts. It felt right and I’m the hap­pi­est I’ve been. Nate is sup­port­ive and that is a huge thing for me. I’m re­ally ex­cited for the fu­ture. Home and Away, Chan­nel 7, week­nights, 7pm

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