After chas­ing her Hol­ly­wood dream and strug­gling with the death of a close friend, tal­ented Aussie ac­tress Jo­lene An­der­son is smil­ing again and is back on home soil with a guest stint on Home and Away

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the af­ter­math of Pri­est­ley’s death as “the hard­est thing I’ve ever been through”.

An­der­son says she had been work­ing on a move to Los An­ge­les later in 2008 but Pri­est­ley’s pass­ing al­tered those plans. In­stead, An­der­son turned in­ward.

“I had planned to leave in 2008 but then a lot of things hap­pened and I was shat­tered,” An­der­son says. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to stay in Aus­tralia at the mo­ment where fam­ily are close.’”

It took An­der­son three years be­fore she would even dis­cuss Pri­est­ley’s pass­ing. She got angry, saw a coun­sel­lor, gave up singing, found so­lace with fam­ily and friends.

Sim­ple things like yoga, long walks, and play­ing her favourite mu­sic helped turn things around.

“We were re­ally close and had a great bond,” An­der­son has said. “He taught me a lot – not only about act­ing, but life. He’d al­ways say, ‘Don’t worry what peo­ple say about you, just be true to your­self.’”

An­der­son re­turned to TV with Rush in 2010 and 2011. By early 2012, she had the courage to follow her dream and fi­nally re­lo­cated to Los An­ge­les. The move has been re­ward­ing but chal­leng­ing. An­der­son is yet to score a ma­jor role.

“I was over there (for the first time) when I was 21 and I al­ways had the itch to go back,” An­der­son says.

“It is def­i­nitely a big­ger pond (pool of ac­tors) there but there are a lot of re­ally great projects over here, in­clud­ing TV. I’ve been get­ting close to a lot of things.

“In­de­pen­dent film is where I would love to land. I’m not mas­sively into block­busters.”

Home and Away’s Neive is smart and un­apolo­get­i­cally am­bi­tious. She comes to Sum­mer Bay to see Phoebe Nicholson (Is­abella Giov­inazzo) per­form and is mighty im­pressed.

Neive tells Phoebe she is go­ing to be mu­sic’s next big thing. That drives a wedge be­tween Phoebe and boyfriend Kyle Brax­ton (Nic West­away).

Last year, An­der­son recorded Don’t Let the Dark­ness In as a trib­ute to Pri­est­ley. The song aimed to raise money and help aware­ness for the Black Dog In­sti­tute.

“I see mu­sic as some­where down the track, on stage or TV or film, but not nec­es­sar­ily mak­ing an al­bum or any­thing,” she said. “I love be­ing a job­bing ac­tor work­ing.”

Ac­tress Jo­lene An­der­son on the set of Home And Away.

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