‘I’M USED TO EVERYONE KNOWING MY BUSINESS’
AS someone who grew up in a small town, Emma Leonard says the fictional town of Weld in 800 Words feels just like home.
Leonard plays schoolteacher Tracy in Seven’s latest family drama. Despite Tracy being an Aussie transplant, she’s a huge part of the fabric of the local community – and for Leonard, the feeling of everyone knowing everyone’s business is a familiar one
“I grew up in Mittagong in the Southern Highlands (of NSW),” she explains. “You would bump into people you knew in the streets and there was almost a sense of celebrity culture in the town … Everyone talks about each other. Everybody is in each other’s business.
“My mum still talks to me about people from school or people from town. It’s lovely but it’s also pretty funny.”
Also familiar to Leonard is the sense of community the Weld locals feel, which is a huge part of the 800 Words fabric both on and off screen.
The cast and crew of the trans-Tasman drama – which stars Erik Thomson as recent widower and newcomer to Weld, George Turner – spent three months in New Zealand filming the show. During their time on location, the “women of Weld” formed strong friendships.
From holding “crafternoons” on set to hanging out at each other’s houses off set, Leonard says the supportive environment made shooting 800 Words a dream gig.
“The crew and cast and everybody was really positive and supportive and lovely,” she says.
The former Home and Away actress is still pinching herself over landing the plum gig.
“The tone of the comedy and the drama of it was really appealing to me,” she said. “Add the opportunity to live in New Zealand, plus having someone like Erik Thomson attached … I loved it straight away.”
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