LISA Gormley was somewhere in the air between London and Singapore when she remembered there was something she had to do.
It wasn’t that she hated her job as a Qantas long- haul flight attendant but more that she’d somehow become sidetracked.
Two failed attempts to be accepted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art at 17 and 18 had seen her take a gap year in England. That stretched to three or four years.
Somewhere along the way, she’d forgotten how much she loved acting.
So, at 22, Gormley threw in the job, reapplied to NIDA, and headed home to Australia. On graduating, she was offered a role on Southern Cross’s long- running soap Home and Away. Two years on, as the feisty Bianca Scott on the show, Gormley has had one happy landing.
In its 24th year on air, Home and Away regularly rates above the magic million view mark in its 7pm timeslot.
Gormley is relishing juicy storylines for her character, which this year have seen Bianca marry long- time flame Liam ( Axle Whitehead) after an interlude with bad- boy Heath ( Dan Ewing). The new bride is now pregnant to either Liam or Heath. Matters are complicated further because Bianca’s sister, April ( Rhiannon Fish), is getting it on with Heath.
Gormley, 27, says her real life is ‘‘ positively boring’’ by comparison.
‘‘ My social life has none of the intrigue of Bianca’s,’’ she says.
‘‘ Because it’s such a social environment at work, and I’m living these storylines, by the end of the day I just want to go home and sit on the lounge and watch television.
‘‘ But once you get into the routine of this show, you can achieve lots of things.
‘‘ When I got out of NIDA, the last thing I wanted to do was a singing class or a dialect class or anything at all and now I’m actually getting back into that. ‘‘ My social life is learning new skills.’’ She says there are not multiple love interests, a wedding or a baby on her personal horizon.
‘‘ I’ve been flying solo for a while,’’ she says. ‘‘ I have plenty of fun, but I’ve been really distracted by this pretty amazing job I have.’’
Gormley was a late starter in Home and Away, which regularly recruits teens to its Summer Bay cast.
Born in England, her family moved to the Barossa Valley when she was three. They then moved to a farm in Tasmania when she was 12. An only child, she started doing community theatre.
‘‘ I had never been what I would call totally determined to act,’’ she says.
‘‘ For me, it was something that just always made me feel comfortable, at home, happy if you like.
‘‘ I needed the time in England. It was meant to be a year but I fell in love with the place and the people and my first proper job as an air hostess and forgot about acting for a while.
‘‘ I did a lot of growing up. Then I had this realisation one day when I was on a trip to Singapore and thought ‘ Hang on, there’s something I really wanted to do’.’’
Her third application to NIDA was successful – she believes because they appreciated the life experience she’d had this time around.
‘‘ I think that makes me, makes any person, a bit more interesting,’’ she says.
‘‘ There was no defining moment with a difficult passenger or an exhausting turnaround which made me quit. More a realisation I’d got sidetracked.’’
She doubts her alter- ego Bianca would make it as a flight attendant.
‘‘ Oh God, no. She’d rip holes in people. She’d fly business, but she certainly wouldn’t work it,’’ she says.
‘‘ She has a confidence most women may wish they had on a day- to- day basis and it’s nice to indulge that nasty fantasy of ripping holes in people. But she’s a bit too much hard work to be a friend of mine in real life.’’