Pia Miller grew up a fan of the Seven Net­work’s Home and Away, and now she is play­ing Sum­mer Bay’s new res­i­dent po­lice­woman Kat Chap­man and get­ting on well with the soap opera’s stars off-cam­era

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY TV - TIF­FANY DUNK

At 13 years old, Pia Miller was al­ready some­thing of a star. Hav­ing won the Dolly Model Search com­pe­ti­tion in 1998 – the comp which also launched the ca­reers of su­per­mod­els Mi­randa Kerr and Jess Hart – she was grac­ing the pages of the mag­a­zine and be­yond.

But at home, she was taken with the stars of the small screen as she and her fam­ily tuned in ev­ery night to the go­ings on in Sum­mer Bay.

“In our house­hold it was Neigh­bours first, then Home and Away,” she says. “So it’s quite bizarre now to be part of the cast.’’

In Au­gust last year Miller landed the role of Kat Chap­man, the Bay’s new res­i­dent po­lice­woman who first ap­peared on screens in Fe­bru­ary.

With so many faces from her teenage years still on the se­ries to­day, Miller says her first few days on set were “a whirl­wind”.

“To see peo­ple like Ray Meagher and Lynne McGranger and Ada Ni­code­mou work­ing is just such a cool feel­ing,” she says.

“The first few scenes that I had with those guys I was ab­so­lutely be­side my­self.”

Still, soon Miller found her­self swept up in the Home and Away on­set ca­ma­raderie.

With her fam­ily based in Mel­bourne while she com­mutes to shoot the show in Syd­ney, the sup­port has proven crit­i­cal for the show’s new­comer.

“They’ve made me feel like I’m part of the fam­ily,” she says.

“We’re all there to­gether, work­ing to­wards the same goal. We have a mu­tual re­spect and un­der­stand­ing for each other be­cause we all know what it’s like to get those crazy call times, long days and script amend­ments. They’re a great bunch of hu­mans.”

Hav­ing tran­si­tioned her­self from a mod­el­ling ca­reer into pre­sent­ing, in­clud­ing Chan­nel 9’s stal­wart travel show Post­cards Vic­to­ria, Miller was keen for a new chal­lenge.

Tak­ing a va­ri­ety of act­ing and voice classes led to tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial slots, then small speak­ing guest spots on shows like Neigh­bours and Won­der­land.

“I got the act­ing bug and once you’ve got it it’s hard to shake it,” Miller says with a laugh.

When she was pre­sented with an au­di­tion for Chap­man, she knew she had found a role she was born to play.

“We both, I feel, are very strong women,” Miller says.

‘‘She’s driven, she’s got great in­stincts – I draw par­al­lels with that.

‘‘But she’s also a re­ally cool chick and some­one that I, Pia, would aspire to be like.”

Be­ing a role model for the show’s young fans is some­thing that Miller, her­self a mother of two young boys, takes se­ri­ously.

“The fact that Kat is a strong, re­silient woman is ab­so­lutely what at­tracted me to the role in the first place,” she says.

“To show char­ac­ters like that on free-to-air net­works, in a fam­ily show means we do have young kids watch­ing.

‘‘If I have an op­por­tu­nity to bring them a char­ac­ter that’s a strong, in­de­pen­dent, ded­i­cated woman, it’s a priv­i­lege.

Com­ing up to a year in the job, Miller says that she is in no rush to leave the show.

Hav­ing found the com­mute “ini­tially a bit of a jug­gle”, she says she and her fam­ily have found their rhythm so that she still feels an in­te­gral part of what is hap­pen­ing in the house­hold while she is away.

De­spite the strong Home and Away fan base, she is yet to find her­self be­sieged by peo­ple who recog­nise her while out do­ing her weekly shop.

“I think peo­ple would recog­nise me if I was in po­lice uni­form but mostly peo­ple don’t no­tice me at all,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t get stopped pick­ing up milk.”

Pic­ture: CHAN­NEL 7

Sum­mer Bay’s new res­i­dent po­lice­woman Kat Chap­man (Pia Miller) on the case in Seven Net­work soap opera

Home and Away.

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