‘I’m a strong woman’
Home and Away’s Pia Miller is more than just a pretty face
At 13 years old, Pia Miller was already something of a star.
Having won the DOLLY Model Search competition in 1998 — the comp that also launched the careers of supermodels Miranda Kerr and Jess Hart — Miller was gracing the pages of the magazine and beyond.
But at home, she was taken with the stars of the small screen as she and her family tuned in every night to the goings on in Summer Bay.
“In our household it was Neighbours first, then Home and Away,” she says.
“So it’s quite bizarre now to be part of the cast.”
In August last year, Miller landed the role of Kat Chapman, the Bay’s new resident policewoman who first appeared on screens this February. And with so many faces from her teenage years still on the iconic series today, Miller says her early days on set were “a whirlwind”.
“To see people like Ray Meagher and Lynne McGranger and Ada Nicodemou working is just such a cool feeling,” she says.
“The first few scenes that I had with those guys I was absolutely beside myself. I was so nervous and a little bit star struck.”
Still, soon Miller found herself swept up in the infamous Home and Away onset camaraderie. And with her family based in Melbourne while she commutes to shoot the show in Sydney, the support has proven critical for the show’s newcomer. “They’ve made me feel like I’m part of the family,” she says. “We’re all there together, working towards the same goal. We have a mutual respect and understanding for each other because we all know what it’s like to get those crazy call times, long days and script amendments. They’re a great bunch of humans.”
Acting is something that Miller has been working towards for a long time.
Having moved from a modelling career into presenting, including Nine’s stalwart travel show Postcards Victoria, she was keen for a new challenge.
Taking a variety of acting and voice classes led to TV commercial slots, then small speaking guest spots on shows like Neighbours and Wonderland.
“I got the acting bug and once you’ve got it it’s hard to shake it,” Miller laughs.
And when she was presented with an audition for Home and Away’s Kat Chapman, she knew she’d found a role she was born to play.
“We both, I feel, are very strong women,” Miller explains. s. “We’re both from a supportive family. She’s driven, she’s got great instincts — I draw parallels with that.
“But she’s also a really cool chick and someone that I, Pia, would aspire to be like.”
Being a role model for the show’s young fans is something that Miller, herself a mother of two young boys, takes incredibly seriously.
“The fact that Kat is a strong, resilient woman is absolutely what attracted me to the role in the first place,” she says.
“To show characters like that on free-to-air networks, in a family show means we do have young kids watching. “If I have an opportunity to bring them a character that’s a strong, independent, dedicated woman, it’s a privilege.”
Coming up to a year in the job, Miller says that she’s in no rush to leave the show.
Having found the commute “initially a bit of a juggle”, she says she and her family have found their rhythm so that she still feels an integral part of what is happening in the household even while she’s away.
And despite the strong Home and Away fan base, she’s yet to find herself besieged by people who recognise her while out and about doing her weekly shop.
“I think people would recognise me if I was in police uniform but mostly people don’t notice me at all,” she laughs.
“I don’t get stopped picking up milk.” HOME AND AWAY, CHANNEL 7, MONDAY-THURSDAY, 7PM
“We’re all there together, working towards the same goal. We have a mutual respect”
PIA MILLER ON THE SHOW’S CAST
Pia Miller is a nononsense woman in Home and Away (top)
and (above) with husband Brad Miller.