The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

S he’s fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of some il­lus­tri­ous names — Mar­got Rob­bie, Liam Hemsworth, Ben Men­del­sohn and Kylie Minogue — to name a few. And April Rose Pengilly hopes her role in the TV soap Neigh­bours will be the spring­board to act­ing suc­cess.

April Rose Pengilly, the daugh­ter of INXS rocker Kirk Pengilly, has had some suc­cess in tele­vi­sion al­ready, with parts in the Ten tele­vi­sion se­ries Brock and Pe­ter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door. And she came close to land­ing sev­eral high-pro­file in­ter­na­tional roles be­fore she ar­rived in Ram­say Street — in­clud­ing the role of Ch­eryl Blos­som in Riverdale, Han Solo’s love in­ter­est Qi’ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story (which even­tu­ally went to Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke) and parts in a cou­ple of James Franco projects.

Just three months af­ter her de­but Neigh­bours episode hit screens, how­ever, the 30-year-old Syd­ney beauty has been nom­i­nated for a Logie for her per­for­mance as Chloe Brennan. Pengilly, who be­gan film­ing in Novem­ber and moved to Mel­bourne in Jan­uary, is up for the pres­ti­gious Gra­ham Kennedy Award for Most Out­stand­ing New­comer at the awards cer­e­mony on July 1.

“It was a big sur­prise, but I am so hon­oured and grate­ful to have my years of hard work recog­nised,” she tells BW Mag­a­zine.

“I’m ob­vi­ously a long shot but please vote for me any­way! I’ve never won any­thing be­fore and my mum wants some­thing shiny to place upon the man­tel.”

The ac­co­lade was the confirmation Pengilly needed that she had made the right de­ci­sion — giv­ing up a lu­cra­tive mod­el­ling ca­reer in a bid to be taken se­ri­ously as an ac­tor.

“I had to give up my mod­el­ling ca­reer and make it clear that I am an ac­tor now to get taken se­ri­ously,” she says. “It was re­ally tough giv­ing it up be­cause that’s what I got my start in. I thought I could do both but I had trou­ble, my agent couldn’t even get me in the room be­cause a lot of cast­ing di­rec­tors were say­ing ‘Oh no, she’s not a real ac­tor, she’s a model, she’s not tak­ing it se­ri­ously.’ They wouldn’t even watch my work and he was like ‘No, she stud­ied re­ally hard, she is se­ri­ous about this,’ but the mod­el­ling made it hard for them to take me se­ri­ously.” D espite a pas­sion for act­ing since she was 11 years old, Pengilly went on to built a name for her­self in the mod­el­ling world, sign­ing to Wil­helmina Mod­els af­ter grad­u­at­ing high school and work­ing on cam­paigns while liv­ing and work­ing in Tokyo, Osaka, Lon­don and New York.

But in an in­dus­try no­to­ri­ously full of “slashies” — ac­tor/model, singer/dancer, pre­sen­ter/thes­pian — she was told hav­ing two ca­reers would hold her back.

“I would be in the so­cial pages or some­thing and they would credit me as ‘model’ by ac­ci­dent and I would be like, ‘No, you’ve just set me back months, now no one is go­ing to want to book a model,” she says. “(In Aus­tralia) peo­ple are like ‘You think you can do two jobs, how dare you!’ In Amer­ica, they love if you have dif­fer­ent lay­ers, ca­reers and things to talk about. I think there’s the stigma of model turned ac­tor, there’s a few that haven’t been so suc­cess­ful, so I think peo­ple look at that and it turns them off.

“I wish I could do both. I miss mod­el­ling so much. I’m hop­ing — now that I am on a lon­grun­ning show and I’m not just do­ing guest ap­pear­ances and films here and there — that I might be able to do both again.”

While she might miss mod­el­ling — for now — act­ing clearly suits Pengilly. Her Ram­say Street char­ac­ter, Chloe Brennan, has landed right in the mid­dle of some juicy scripts as she is re­united with her TV broth­ers Tyler, Mark and Aaron Brennan.

“The role is re­ally fun and the char­ac­ter I’ve ended up with is very sim­i­lar to me in a lot of ways,” Pengilly says. “She’s very fun and open and I get to do a lot of com­edy on the show and I’m lucky that the char­ac­ter I play gets to be the comic re­lief a lot of the time. It feels like the role was tai­lor-made for me.”

De­spite land­ing the role in the long-run­ning soap, her spot on Neigh­bours al­most didn’t hap­pen. Pengilly was just three weeks away from mov­ing to the US, a goal she’d been “ob­sessed with” for six years, when she landed the gig.

“I had filmed an au­di­tion for Neigh­bours early last year and didn’t think too much of it be­cause I got my US visa ap­proved in April,” she says. “It took me two years to get the visa and then, three weeks be­fore I was meant to head to LA, I got the call say­ing I got the part.

“It came out of nowhere, it was a com­plete

sur­prise. I think it’s a goal for most Aussie ac­tors to be on one of these iconic Aussie shows that is beloved world wide, but I’d kind of given up on it, my goal was Amer­ica.

“I felt like I was in a hold­ing pat­tern, I was send­ing self-tapes over and they might call you the day af­ter and say ‘We need to fly you over now.’ I was al­ways on the edge of my seat. There are quite a few roles I came close to but then the visa prob­lem held me back, they want you to have your visa in place be­fore you go.

“I may not be where I thought I would be, but where I am is pretty amaz­ing.” G iven Pengilly grew up in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try (her mum Karen Hutchin­son toured with her fa­ther’s band for 10 years be­fore they split when April Rose was just a tod­dler), it seems only nat­u­ral that she would end up there her­self.

But she has al­ways wanted to do it in her own right, even re­luc­tantly drop­ping her sur­name when she be­gan mod­el­ling in 2005 so peo­ple couldn’t ac­cuse her of try­ing to ride on the coat­tails of her fa­mous fa­ther.

“Both my par­ents are in cre­ative in­dus­tries and al­ways have been, so I didn’t have a lot of hope of get­ting an of­fice job,” she jokes.

“Act­ing and mod­el­ling are very dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries than what my fa­ther does and my mum does, I think peo­ple just lump them in or they just think it might be nepo­tism, but there isn’t any­thing my dad could have done to help me and he wouldn’t have wanted to ei­ther. He wants me to cre­ate my own suc­cess and they are both proud of me.” While she has suc­ceeded in her cho­sen fields ir­re­spec­tive of her sur­name, there were some things she in­her­ited from her rock star fa­ther — his down-to-earth at­ti­tude and his love of mu­sic. “Hav­ing my dad in the in­dus­try since he was so young, he al­ways tried to be re­ally po­lite and con­sid­er­ate and that worked for him so he al­ways in­stilled those val­ues in me, to work hard and be kind,” she says.

“I don’t think I’m above any­one or any­thing.”

She even learnt to play the drums in high school and would play at house par­ties and even on a friend’s EP. “Harry Styles has a fe­male drum­mer on his tour,” she laughs, “that could’ve been me!”

Life as an only child grow­ing up be­tween her mum’s place and her dad’s on week­ends and hol­i­days, also made Pengilly adapt­able, she says. “I’d go to the beach with my mum and she would sun­bake and I’d have to make friends at the beach to play with on the day,” she says. “I was mostly raised by a sin­gle mum and would see dad on week­ends or on hol­i­days. My par­ents split when I was two or three. Dad would go away for six months at a time on tour, so I re­mem­ber that be­ing re­ally dif­fi­cult. “He had a prop­erty in Kan­ga­roo Val­ley which we would go to and go horserid­ing and swim­ming in wa­ter­falls so I was so lucky to have that. I have a weird split per­son­al­ity where I have my coun­try self and my city self so I’m over­due for some coun­try-self time.”

I think it’s a goal for most Aussie ac­tors to be on one of these iconic Aussie shows

Pengilly found suc­cess in her mod­el­ling mod lli ca­reer but is de­ter­mined now to make it as an ac­tor with her start in Neigh­bours. Main pic­ture: Ro­han Kelly

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