“I’m go­ing to be a mother”

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents -

Aus­tralian ac­tor Ni­cole da Silva meets up with Stel­lar to re­veal her preg­nancy news and shares her ex­cite­ment at be­com­ing a first-time mum.

She made a name for her­self play­ing com­pli­cated char­ac­ters, and now ac­tor Ni­cole da Silva tells Stel­lar how she is about to take on a new chal­lenge – a fam­ily – as she pre­pares to wel­come her first child

Ni­cole da Silva’s puppy is giv­ing her shoe a good chew. “Oh, hello!” the 36-year-old laughs, as she gen­tly shakes her play­ful lit­tle friend. “Well, I guess this is a good prac­tice run.” The ac­tor has been train­ing Chula, a res­cue dog, over the past few months – in turn, Chula has been get­ting her owner ready for her big­gest role yet: as she ex­clu­sively re­veals to Stel­lar, da Silva is six months preg­nant with her first baby.

“I feel like my­self again,” she says of the news. “The first trimester was re­ally hard. I was hit with ma­jor ex­haus­tion and just con­stant nau­sea. You spend so long at the be­gin­ning of the preg­nancy men­tally com­ing to terms with it and phys­i­cally you’ve got stuff go­ing on, too – but you’re not show­ing. Then in the sec­ond half, it’s like, ‘ This is a re­al­ity now, it’s not just all in my head, I’m ac­tu­ally out there, lit­er­ally, and I’m go­ing to be­come a mother.’ It’s quite lovely.”

She’ll need her en­ergy: she kicks off film­ing the sec­ond sea­son of the Nine Net­work’s med­i­cal drama Doc­tor Doc­tor this month, and will keep work­ing un­til July, when the baby is due to ar­rive. “There’s a bit of time off where it can just be baby world,” da Silva says. “We’re pretty lucky: we have very sup­port­ive peo­ple around us; fam­ily, friends, grand­par­ents who want to be re­ally hands-on look­ing af­ter bubba. So we’re look­ing for­ward to be­ing able to lean on that. I think some level of shift and change is in­evitable, and we’ll have to make ad­just­ments as new par­ents do, but there’s a lot of work I still want to do and a lot of stuff I’m still in­ter­ested in so it’ll all be bub­bling away as we go.”

“We” is da Silva and her part­ner John, a painter who she lives with in Syd­ney’s in­ner west. (And of course, Chula rounds out their grow­ing fam­ily.) Their re­la­tion­ship was 12 years in the mak­ing; the pair met sling­ing cock­tails at a bar in the city but, for a while, that was it. “There was al­ways chem­istry, but we dropped out of con­tact. And then, it was bizarre, we just kept bump­ing into each other ev­ery year or two. Then a few years ago, I was liv­ing in LA but was back in Syd­ney briefly and drove past what used to be his old house, and I thought ‘I’m just go­ing to text his num­ber and see if he’s still around… if that’s even still his num­ber.’”

It was. And while they didn’t have time to catch up then, they kept in touch un­til da Silva came back for an­other visit. “I think we were both oper­at­ing un­der the ruse that we were just catch­ing up as old friends,” she re­calls with a chuckle. “But then we could al­ways see the chem­istry there.”

From that long-over­due meetup, “it was kind of a done deal”, she says of the long-dis­tance love that de­vel­oped. Four years in, da Silva de­scribes their re­la­tion­ship as “great. It’s easy. It’s hon­est. It’s fun. And it’s lovely to be on the same page as some­one in terms of what you want your life to look like and what your pri­or­i­ties are – we’ve def­i­nitely got that. We both would like to be liv­ing in the coun­try at some point. We both des­per­ately wanted a dog, so we got one. We knew we wanted kids, so that’s handy.” Mar­riage, on the other hand, can wait. “It’s been a busy year, with a res­cue dog and a baby on the way, so that’s plenty.”

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing this lit­tle per­son into the world”

She has al­ways known what she wanted. “When I was young, maybe 10, I heard that most ac­tors were out of work and I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like a chal­lenge. I think I want to take that on’ – which is ridicu­lous,” she says, laugh­ing. “I started writ­ing and di­rect­ing plays with my friends in them to put on for class.”

Grow­ing up in Western Syd­ney with a Por­tuguese mother, a South Amer­i­can step­dad and two older step-sib­lings, da Silva was “al­ways the clown, do­ing funny lit­tle skits for my fam­ily”. A bright stu­dent, she at­tended a selec­tive school and worked hard to get into her cho­sen me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tions course at univer­sity; once there, she re­alised that it wasn’t what she re­ally wanted. Drama school was.

“My fam­ily had seen how hard I stud­ied and I think they were hop­ing I would choose some­thing with a lit­tle more se­cu­rity. They en­cour­aged me to be­come a teacher or a lawyer, and I was pretty hell­bent on act­ing. I come from a long line of pas­sion­ate, fiery women in my fam­ily.”

Six months out of univer­sity, the first sign her de­ter­mi­na­tion was pay­ing off came when she landed a reg­u­lar guest role on All Saints. “But it was still stop/ start,” she says; a cou­ple of years of no act­ing work, then a “break­out” gig on Danger­ous. This was fol­lowed by a year or so of work­ing in bars to pay the bills – all while hop­ing and look­ing for the next role. It even­tu­ated in the form of a gig on Rush that brought her to na­tional at­ten­tion and led to her iconic take on tough Franky Doyle in Went­worth. Even now, with da Silva’s role in Doc­tor Doc­tor and a ca­reer that’s hum­ming along nicely, she says un­cer­tainty is al­ways just be­neath the sur­face. She’s an ac­tor, af­ter all. “There are no guar­an­tees – and that’s what keeps you want­ing it. You get to a level of ac­cep­tance that there aren’t any guar­an­tees but you keep work­ing at it.”

Once the chaos of new moth­er­hood sub­sides, da Silva plans to do just that. She’s on the ad­vi­sory board for 50/50 by 2020 – a col­lec­tive cause fo­cus­ing on equal­ity for women, peo­ple of colour, LGBTQIA, and those with dis­abil­i­ties within the film and tele­vi­sion in­dus­try. “It’s some­thing that I’ve been re­ally ex­cited to be a part of; it’s fo­cused pri­mar­ily in Amer­ica at the mo­ment but it’s some­thing I would like to see brought out to Aus­tralia, and I think there’s a lot of un­der­cur­rents of those move­ments hap­pen­ing at the mo­ment and it’s heart­en­ing to see.”

There’s plenty of cre­ative fuel in her tank, too. “I’m re­ally in­ter­ested in pro­duc­ing my own work, so that’s def­i­nitely on the ta­ble for me in the near fu­ture, and I think Amer­ica’s al­ways on the cards… so I’ll just keep every­thing bub­bling along.” In the mean­time, there will be more than just that dog to watch over. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing this lit­tle per­son into the world. There’s some­thing pretty mag­i­cal and spe­cial about that. I do have trep­i­da­tions and fears, but I’m look­ing for­ward to a new part of my­self that it will re­veal.”

Pho­tog­ra­phy NIGEL LOUGH In­ter­view NAOMI CHRISOULAKIS

SIL­VER LIN­ING Aus­tralian ac­tor Nicole da Silva will con­tinue film­ing on her se­ries Doc­tor Doc­tor un­til her due date in July. Chair by Jar­dan (shown through­out), jor­dan.com.au

WHAT TO EX­PECT (clock­wise from top left) Nicole da Silva in her role as feisty in­mate Francesca “Franky” Doyle in Went­worth; as pho­tographed for Stel­lar; da Silva and her part­ner John, with whom she’s ex­pect­ing her first child; at the 2016 Lo­gie...

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