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