INSIDE: Seven days of TV view­ing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - DEB­BIE SCHIPP PU­BERTY BLUES TDT, Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm

AS des­per­ate- to- fit in teenager Deb­bie Vick­ers in Pu­berty Blues, ac­tor Ashleigh Cum­mings has per­son­i­fied life on the cusp of adult­hood.

Cum­mings and cast- mate Brenna Hard­ing, who plays on- screen best friend Sue in the se­ries, have de­liv­ered a per­for­mance full of chem­istry and be­liev­abil­ity.

It’s that which has placed them on an­other cusp – that of se­ri­ously good break­through ac­tors.

Cum­mings’ al­ter- ego Deb­bie may still be wa­ver­ing be­tween un­cer­tainty and sure­ness as she ne­go­ti­ates her teens, but the ac­tor her­self is full of op­ti­mism on her cho­sen path.

‘‘ This role has been one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my life,’’ says the 19- yearold, who is en­joy­ing her most prom­i­nent tele­vi­sion role to date.

‘‘ I de­cided to act at 15 and I haven’t wa­vered from that.

‘‘ Be­fore that I wanted to be a bal­le­rina, but at 15 that idea was flipped on its head.

‘‘ I just didn’t want to dance any more, which was a lit­tle ab­surd.

‘‘ I was do­ing 27 hours a week of danc­ing and that had been my am­bi­tion since I was three years old, then sud­denly the act­ing bug took over.’’

That bug pro­pelled Cum­mings into a se­ries of parts, in­clud­ing the lead­ing role on the hit ad­ven­ture movie To­mor­row When the War Be­gan in 2010.

As Robyn in that film, Cum­mings earnt an AFI nom­i­na­tion for best young ac­tor.

She caught the eye as de­voted com­pan­ion and some- time sleuth Dot Wil­liams last year in the ABC’s first se­ries of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mys­ter­ies, be­fore blow­ing away Pu­berty Blues creators John Ed­wards and Imo­gen Banks at her screen test.

It meant a com­plete change of pace for Cum­mings, who donned biki­nis and beach wear for the role of Deb­bie, a far cry from her own early life.

Cum­mings was born in Saudi Ara­bia, where her fa­ther worked as a ra­dio­g­ra­pher and her mother as a stenog­ra­pher.

The fam­ily moved back to Aus­tralia when Cum­mings was 12 years old.

Cum­mings says she’s far from the quin­tes­sen­tial ‘‘ beach girl’’.

‘‘ To­tally not. I’m an al­bino at heart, so there was lots of fake tan­ning go­ing on for this role,’’ she says.

One thing that is far from fake is the chem­istry be­tween Cum­mings and Hard­ing who ‘‘ clicked in­stantly’’ when put to­gether as Deb­bie and Sue.

The pair has since be­come the clos­est of friends off- screen as well.

‘‘ They talk about Sue and Deb­bie hav­ing a, kind of, one mind. Brenna and I are a bit like that,’’ she says.

Their friend­ship and its tri­als are the cen­tre­piece of Pu­berty Blues, and Banks says when she and Ed­wards put the pair to­gether, af­ter screen test­ing them sep­a­rately, ‘‘ it was clear they were an on- screen cou­ple to die for’’.

‘‘ The laugh­ter, the se­cret glances and ex­u­ber­ance be­tween friends is im­pos­si­ble to fake, these two are be­liev­able,’’ Banks says.

With plans for a sec­ond se­ries of Pu­berty Blues in train, Ed­wards hopes to see the pair re­peat the dose.

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