Soap star: Is a real Paige turner

Work­ing on TV soap Neigh­bours is a labour of love for Olympia Valance, writes HOLLY BYRNES

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASSIE LIVING -

THERE should be lit­tle doubt about Olympia Valance’s com­mit­ment to her craft.

Play­ing preg­nant Paige Smith on Neigh­bours, the 24-year-old goes into labour on the Chan­nel 10 soap this week – and in true Ram­say Street style, it’s no or­di­nary de­liv­ery, with the sin­gle mother find­ing her­self alone in an iso­lated farming shed, just as her wa­ter breaks.

Valance says it was no or­di­nary day of film­ing ei­ther with the young actor push­ing through a 12-hour “labour”.

“I was push­ing all day long, from six in the morn­ing, to six at night. There was one point, I was push­ing so hard I al­most fainted,” she re­veals.

Warned her un­born was in the breech po­si­tion, there was added drama for both mother and child – that is, be­fore Dr Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) and her baby daddy, priest Fa­ther Jack (An­drew Mor­ley), could rush to her side.

Af­ter re­search­ing the com­pli­ca­tions as­so­ci­ated with a breech birth, what’s not in danger, Valance con­firms, is any chance she’ll be rush­ing out to get preg­nant in real life.

“I reckon I watched about three hours of home [breech] birth videos and oh, my god ... it was the great­est con­tra­cep­tion ever, 100 per cent,” she laughs.

Be­sides be­ing “com­pletely fright­ened out of want­ing to have a baby” Valance has her sights set firmly on an in­ter­na­tional ca­reer – pre­sent­ing a dif­fer­ent dilemma for the young star.

Now in her fourth year on the soap se­ries, the Lo­gie-nom­i­nated actor ad­mits she’s edg­ing closer to cut­ting the cord and leav­ing her TV fam­ily for new work op­por­tu­ni­ties in ei­ther Lon­don or Los An­ge­les. Her en­dorse­ment deal with Gos­sard lin­gerie takes her to the UK cap­i­tal reg­u­larly, al­low­ing time for her to visit with half-sis­ter and former

Neigh­bours star Holly, who lives be­tween Lon­don and Los An­ge­les with her en­trepeneur hus­band Nick Candy and their tod­dler daugh­ter, Luca.

Signed to the same US man­age­ment agency as the Hemsworth brothers, Roar, there are also doors set to open for her there.

And yet, Valance – loyal to where she got her act­ing start – is torn about leav­ing her Neigh­bours and Fre­mantleMe­dia fam­ily be­hind.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t get this op­por­tu­nity, so I feel very lucky and very blessed to have been given this chance,” she says. “To go and throw it away for the un­known ... it’s go­ing to be re­ally hard be­cause I’ve loved the cast, I love the crew.”

Her de­par­ture is al­ready caus­ing anx­i­ety on the closeknit set, Valance ad­mits.

“The make-up artist said to me this morn­ing that Eve Mor­ley [who plays So­nia Re­bec­chi] had said some­thing like, ‘It’s go­ing to be emo­tional to see Olympia go...’ and I started tear­ing up, that’s how emo­tional I get,” she says.

“If I do go, it will be one of the hard­est de­ci­sions I’ll ever have to make.”

She plans to use the show’s end-of-year pro­duc­tion break this year to spend a month in Los An­ge­les, try­ing her luck dur­ing pi­lot sea­son. But she’s pleaded with pro­duc­ers not to kill her char­ac­ter off.

“Even if I de­cide not to sign on for an­other sea­son, I want to come back and forth for cameos,” she says.

“It would never be the end of Paige.”

NEIGH­BOURS 6.30PM, WEEK­DAYS, ELEVEN

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