BEST KEPT SE­CRET

Bon­nie Sveen is ready to kiss and tell all about her next TV chap­ter

Herald Sun - Switched On - - FRONT PAGE -

Change is as good as a hol­i­day and Bon­nie Sveen has had both re­cently.

At the start of 2016, the Lo­gie-win­ning ac­tor bid farewell to her pop­u­lar Home and Away char­ac­ter Ricky af­ter more than three years in the long-run­ning soap.

And then she re­treated to her home state of Tas­ma­nia to de­com­press and let her tough, surfy chick per­sona go.

“I watched the fi­nal episode when it went to air and there was a lit­tle tear,” Sveen, 27, ad­mits.

“It was like a good­bye. I felt lighter and freer. It was lovely to take a break, have a bit of a hol­i­day and go back home … I was able to see the three-and-ahalf years of it, to get it into per­spec­tive.”

Any ac­tor who walks away from a well-pay­ing and sta­ble job in a no­to­ri­ously fickle in­dus­try is tak­ing a gam­ble.

But for Sveen, it was time to move on to new chal­lenges.

“I’m con­stantly re­assess­ing, ask­ing where I want to go and look­ing at how I’m do­ing. These days, I feel more philo­soph­i­cal, en­er­gised and cre­ative about where I’m head­ing.”

Where she’s go­ing next is head­first into The Se­cret Daugh­ter, a meaty Aus­tralian drama boast­ing an all-star cast in­clud­ing Colin Friels, David Field, Matt Levett and Rachel Gor­don.

It tells the story of Bil­lie, a coun­try pub singer — played by pop star and ac­tor Jes­sica Mauboy — whose chance en­counter with a wealthy city hote­lier com­pletely changes her life.

Sveen is Bil­lie’s best friend Layla, who plays the key­board in her band and goes along for the ride.

“It was pretty daunt­ing to come into,” she says.

“In my mind I’m think­ing, you’re just Ricky from Home and Away. I’m still learn­ing, you know. I looked at the cast and my mind was blown and I won­dered if I was a bit out of place.

“But it wasn’t the case at all. It was a re­ally beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence to meet these peo­ple and feel like they’re re­ally, truly my peers.”

A beast of a pro­duc­tion like Home and Away of­fers an in­cred­i­ble train­ing ground for young ac­tors.

It’s why the show has pro­duced so many big-name Hol­ly­wood stars, from Chris Hemsworth to Melissa Ge­orge.

“Ev­ery­one says it puts you in good stead and at the risk of re­peat­ing cliches, it re­ally does,” Sveen says.

“All that time be­ing on set and fac­ing your nerves and ex­ter­nal ob­sta­cles, whether it be cock­a­toos squawk­ing over­head or the wind sud­denly pick­ing up or a tour bus rock­ing up, it cre­ates an at­ti­tude of ‘just push for­ward’. You learn to be re­silient and trust the cast and other ac­tors who sur­round you, but it doesn’t of­fer a lot of time to digest your work.”

With a show like The Se­cret Daugh­ter, pro­duced by drama pow­er­house Screen­time and co-helmed by Leah Pur­cell, there’s a bit more of a lux­ury to be im­mersed in story. “I was on set one day day­dream­ing, lean­ing against this or­nate

fire­place in the board­room of this grand ho­tel that’d been con­structed,” Sveen re­calls.

“The wall­pa­per was so or­nate with re­flec­tive bits in it, and when the light hits it in the right way it bounces off and dances around in the air, like lit­tle fairies al­most.

“And for me, for some rea­son, it ce­mented the dif­fer­ence. It’s a dif­fer­ent show and a very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter.”

Where Ricky was “just cop­ing and keep­ing her­self to­gether” in the face of Sum­mer Bay’s stan­dard deaths, de­struc­tion and per­sonal tur­bu­lence, Layla is a free spirit.

She’s closer to Sveen’s per­son­al­ity — easy­go­ing, thought­ful and bit earthy.

“Layla is the girl who sees the glass as half-full, all the time. She’s al­ways win­ning even when she’s not. If she’s los­ing, she’ll find a way to make it a pos­i­tive. It’s lovely to go from Ricky to this provider of so­lu­tions.”

As the se­ries makes its an­tic­i­pated de­but this week, Sveen again finds her­self won­der­ing what might be next.

But as she points out, it’s an ex­cit­ing time in the in­dus­try with a mini-boom of scripted pro­duc­tion. She might like to try a crime drama next.

“Maybe even some­thing su­per­nat­u­ral, with a bit of a cin­e­matic feel. We’re mak­ing some great stuff here and it feels like a new era. I’m ex­cited.”

But first, there’ll be a trip back home.

“Every six months or so, it’s time to go back to the fam­ily in Tas­ma­nia. You’ve got to take a breath and re­flect. It’s good for the soul.”

“Layla is the girl who sees the glass as half-full, all the time”

BON­NIE SVEEN ON HER CHAR­AC­TER

THE SE­CRET DAUGH­TER, CHAN­NEL 7, MON­DAY, 8.30PM

/ DRESS FROM GLAMCORNER, EAR­RINGS BY LUXE COL­LEC­TIVE

Bon­nie Sveen hits the road in The Se­cret Daugh­ter.

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