Ac­tress Tessa James is right on track in the act­ing field.

VOGUE Australia - - News - By Jane Al­bert. Styled by Philippa Moroney. Pho­tographed by Dun­can Killick.

Ac­tress Tessa James is back in the act­ing field.

There was plenty of dark­ness while Tessa James was un­der­go­ing in­va­sive treat­ment for Hodgkin’s lym­phoma, but there was also the odd mo­ment of lev­ity. A par­tic­u­lar favourite was the day James im­plored her hus­band, Nate Myles, to go horse rid­ing with her.

The ac­tress has had a life­long affin­ity for horses, a re­sult of her up­bring­ing in semiru­ral Vic­to­ria where she reg­u­larly at­tended pony club. When she was di­ag­nosed in 2013, she found her­self drawn to horses once more, dis­cov­er­ing they brought her some peace. One of her goals dur­ing treat­ment was to go rid­ing with Myles, only to have him refuse point blank, the re­sult of a nasty child­hood en­counter.

“When I wasn’t well I had a list of fun things to do, as I’d go for treat­ment every two weeks and for five days I’d feel aw­ful. I said I wanted to go and ride horses, as they’re known for be­ing ther­a­peu­tic and heal­ing. But he said he wouldn’t do it. I made him come with me, but he wouldn’t even go up to the horse and pat it!”

James did man­age to help Myles over­come his fear of horses, but the sight of the mus­cu­lar pro­fes­sional rugby league player sit­ting rigid with fear while be­ing led slowly on a rope still makes her gig­gle.

Her love of horses had an­other up­side: ear­lier this year she was in­vited to help launch lux­ury watch­maker Longines’s new eques­trian col­lec­tion and was flown to the Royal As­cot races in Eng­land and Chan­tilly in France for the Prix de Diane, as a guest of Longines.

Life has only im­proved for the screen ac­tor, who be­came a house­hold name after join­ing the cast of Home and Away when she was only 16. She has made her longed-for move into film, ini­tially with a small cameo on the lo­cal bach­e­lors and spin­sters farce, Spin Out, star­ring Xavier Sa­muel and co-di­rected by co­me­dian Tim Fer­gu­son; and re­cently spent two weeks in her other home, LA, shoot­ing her first Amer­i­can film, You’re Gonna Miss Me, a com­edy star­ring Mor­gan Fairchild.

“It was sur­real, be­cause I’d never worked there be­fore so to be on my way to a set, after ev­ery­thing I’d been through, was an emo­tional, ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It prob­a­bly wasn’t as glam­orous as I’d imag­ined, but that’s fine … one day,” she says.

James and Myles, a prop with the Manly Sea Ea­gles, are used to spend­ing time apart since pur­chas­ing an apart­ment in LA, where James is based three or four months of the year. “Peo­ple find it strange but it’s just some­thing we’ve al­ways done,” the 25-year-old says. “We know we’re young and at that point in our lives when it’s im­por­tant to do what we love.”

A ded­i­cated, dis­ci­plined ac­tor, James un­der­takes reg­u­lar train­ing. She’s re­cently taken work­shops with leg­endary US act­ing coach Larry Moss and The Ac­tor’s Stu­dio method coach El­iz­a­beth Kemp. Her dream is to do theatre, but also ad­mits to an ob­ses­sion with fash­ion.

“If I wasn’t an ac­tress I’d love to be a fash­ion ed­i­tor. I’ve bought mag­a­zines ever since I could. I love Vogue. I love the touch and feel of mag­a­zines,” she says, cit­ing Michael Lo Sordo, Christo­pher Es­ber, Ellery and Dion Lee as favourite lo­cal de­sign­ers. “As an ac­tress, you get dressed by cer­tain peo­ple and I never felt I came across as the per­son I was in­side. So I’ve made a con­scious ef­fort to find de­sign­ers who do ex­press that for me.”

Tessa James wears a Gucci dress, $2,965, and shoes, $2,235. Nerida Win­ter hat, $165, from a se­lec­tion at Myer. Longines watch, $2,075, worn through­out.

Burberry dress, $4,350. Nerida Win­ter tur­ban, $250, from a se­lec­tion at Myer.

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