Out of the Box

Fifi Box has ful­filled a life-long dream by land­ing an act­ing role on the small screen, writes CLARE RIGDEN

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

FIFI Box is best known as a ra­dio host. But that might be about to change, as she em­barks on a new phase of her ca­reer – act­ing in Neigh­bours.

The 39-year-old orig­i­nally stud­ied per­form­ing arts at univer­sity be­fore ra­dio came call­ing, and had long har­boured a se­cret de­sire to pur­sue act­ing – but had all but given up on her dream.

“It was only a year or two ago that I even started say­ing it out loud to a few peo­ple, that I wanted to try act­ing again,” she ex­plains.

“Then Thea McLeod, the cast­ing direc­tor for Neigh­bours, con­tacted me and said, ‘Would you be in­ter­ested in au­di­tion­ing?’ And I didn’t even have to think about it.

“You get to this stage in your life where you’re more fear­less, and you think, ‘What have I got to lose?’”

Tak­ing on the role of Brooke But­ler – long-lost mum to Lilly Van der Meer’s Xanthe – is a de­par­ture for Box, who has only ever starred on tele­vi­sion as her­self.

“That first day, that’s when it struck me: put me on ra­dio, or on live TV, or a panel, pre­sent­ing (Box is also a co-host on The Project ev­ery Tues­day), and I’m like, ‘Yep – I’ve got this’. But get me in front of three dif­fer­ent cam­eras, stand­ing in the right spot, act­ing — I found it very daunt­ing.”

Not hav­ing the kind of con­trol she’s used to in her broad­cast­ing ca­reer will be chal­leng­ing for Box, who, de­spite her care­fully cu­rated im­age of “care­free, bub­bly pre­sen­ter”, is clearly a woman used to be­ing in the driv­ing seat.

Box has steered her ca­reer with pre­ci­sion, care­fully stage-manag­ing her public per­cep­tion, choos­ing what to speak openly about on her ra­dio show, and what to keep hid­den.

This has made her an in­trigu­ing tar­get for tabloids, who have de­voured her un­der-the-radar re­la­tion­ship with for­mer Iron­man, Grant Kenny – the fa­ther of her three­year-old daugh­ter, Trixie. She’s never spo­ken pub­licly of their re­la­tion­ship, only re­cently even ac­knowl­edg­ing he was a part of their lives through two pho­to­graphs posted to her In­sta­gram.

While she’s more than happy to chat about Trixie dur­ing our in­ter­view, when I ask her whether more chil­dren might be in her fu­ture, all it takes is a ner­vous gig­gle and a look, to have her pub­li­cist jump in with a, “Let’s just keep this to her new TV role”.

It’s not a stretch, then, to think that put­ting her­self “out there” for this role, and all the sub­se­quent pub­lic­ity it en­tails, might make her ner­vous.

But she’s clearly got her eye on the prize as she moves to this new phase of her ca­reer. Hav­ing fit­ted her six-week stint in around her al­ready hec­tic com­mit­ments, which in­clude a 4.30am start on ra­dio as well as a once-a-week host­ing role on The Project, Box made it work.

“As a sin­gle mum, you just do it, I have no op­tion but to work and put my­self out there” she says.

So would she give up ra­dio to con­tinue to chase her dream?

“Con­trac­tu­ally I’m not sure I could do that,” Box laughs. “But I’d love any chance to stay in­volved with [the Neigh­bours] fam­ily and that crew, I’d rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity.”

NEIGH­BOURS WEEK­DAYS, 6.30PM, ELEVEN

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