am Frost could give a masterclass in resilience. She won the heart of The Bachelor in front of a national television audience in 2014, only to be dumped for the second runner-up the next day. She found love again as Australia’s first Bachelorette, but that didn’t last either. Then she began a new career as a radio presenter, yet that ended when she found out – from a gossip column, of all places – that her show had been axed.
Each of those things hurt. Nevertheless, Frost persisted. When she took a role on Home And Away a year ago in yet another career reboot, eyes rolled. Seasoned entertainment reporter Peter Ford’s were among them. “I guess I’m from a generation where you got a job like that by going to acting school,” he tells Stellar.
But Frost has silenced her critics the old–fashioned way by letting her work speak for itself. She has taken acting classes and devoured the wisdom of the show’s veterans, and now has a Logie nomination and the admiration of the Home And Away cast to show for it. “She’s really applied herself,” Ford observes. “In a very short space of time, due to hard work and diligence, she’s proven herself to be a very good young TV actress.”
Frost will not allow herself the indulgence of feeling vindicated – she has learnt enough over the past few years to know that’s courting trouble. “It loops around and around,” she says. “That’s what I’ve learnt; even though it’s so amazing and so kind that people are saying all of these lovely things, you have to take it as it comes or else when the criticism comes back around, you will really feel it. I just stay in my safe bubble with my friends and family.”
IT IS THE middle of winter and Sam Frost is dancing on the beach in a pair of hotpants and top. Wind bellows and everyone else is pulling their coats around them, but she is enjoying herself. “That was fun,” she says. Resilient, even in the rain.
The 29-year-old has every reason to feel high on life. Finally, things are working out. She’s in a serious relationship with her boyfriend of more than a year, Dave Bashford, whom she met off-camera. With her sister, she has packaged all the lessons from that tough time in her life into a new mental-health initiative for young girls and women called Believe. And the thrill of her nomination for the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Popular New Talent at last month’s Logies still lingers.
“It was just an absolute honour to be nominated,” she says. “I have put so much work into my job, so it was nice to get a nod from the people out there who are obviously enjoying what I’m doing.”
Four years ago, it was a different story. She was introduced to Australia as a contestant vying for the heart of Blake Garvey on Network Ten’s The Bachelor Australia. She “won”, and her prize was a nationally televised marriage proposal and a $58,000 ring. But the day after the finale aired, she was dumped. Garvey, who is now working as a real estate agent in Perth, had changed his mind and wanted to be with second runner-up Louise Pillidge instead.
The scandal gripped Australia. Fans initially rallied to Frost’s defence, but the comments soon turned nasty after it was perceived she was milking the publicity. Frost admits she was naïve in the eye of that first media storm. “Sometimes I look back and think ‘Oh goodness, why did I say that?’ and ‘Why did I share things?’ I never liked to say no to things.”
Her silver lining was a follow-on TV gig. In 2015, she became Australia’s first Bachelorette. Audiences loved her frank and feisty manner, and it seemed any lingering feelings for Garvey were quashed by the handsome Sasha Mielczarek, Frost’s chosen suitor. But by December 2016 the pair had broken up, citing busy lives and distance. Once again the negative comments came thick and fast. Her weight loss was a particular focus. “What happened to the healthy, happy, glowing Sam?” asked one fan. “Gaunt” and “unrecognisable” – the detractors kept on coming.
The Bachelor/the Bachelorette franchise continues, but Frost doesn’t watch. “I am not disrespecting [the series], but the best way to describe it is like watching a magic show and you know how to do all the tricks,” Frost tells Stellar. “I cringe thinking about it. The little tricks they do… you’re so oblivious to seeing them when you’re watching. I think, ‘Those poor girls.’”
After the break-up, there were more blows. In 2017, Frost’s radio show with co-host Rove Mcmanus on the Hit Network was cancelled, abruptly, while her next foray into reality TV, on Seven Network’s Hell’s Kitchen Australia, was a flop. The public scrutiny worsened: her weight, her career, her dress sense and her new boyfriend were all picked upon and apart by
rost grew up in “the sticks” in Victoria with two older brothers, her sister, and two younger brothers. It was a madhouse, the actor admits. “We were all sharing rooms. I was quite naughty and a bit cheeky. I always tagged along with my big brothers. I thought they were the coolest people on the planet. I was probably really annoying in hindsight.”
Her family supports her move into acting – they kept sending her screenshots of their votes when the Logies voting poll opened. Had she won the statue, they would have been the first people she thanked. “It wouldn’t matter what job I have or how many times I fail at something or if the worst thing were to happen in my life – I know I’ve always got my family and their support,” she says.
This closeness is one reason she will not be venturing off to Hollywood like many Australian actors before her. And there’s that pesky accent, too. “I can’t do an American accent,” Frost says with a laugh. “I’ll stay on Home And Away for as long as they will have me, and that’s the truth.”
The deep fondness with which Frost speaks of Home And Away is telling of just how much she’s embedded herself into this new-found family. As the show’s self-confessed “number one fan”, she didn’t hesitate to accept the role. “They were like ‘Have a think about it’ and I go, ‘ The answer is yes!’” Frost recalls. “I’m a little nerd because I remember all the storylines. I’ll say ‘Remember the time…’ and sometimes the actors who are actually in it don’t remember it at all.” She grins. “I really love the show.”
The feeling is mutual. Producer Lucy Addario knew as soon as Frost auditioned that the role of Jasmine was hers. “We were so impressed by her natural instincts, and it was no surprise that she brought buckets of warmth and that emotional honesty we all love her for,” Addario says. “There is not a day that Sam has taken this job for granted. She always comes to set prepared, with her infectious sense of humour and a desire to give 100 per cent to every scene. Her bravery and commitment to the role is admirable.”
Castmate Ada Nicodemou has taken Frost under her wing. “Sam is always keen to learn and take advice. She is so hardworking and determined,” the series veteran observes.
Ford believes the talent that made Frost so popular with reality television producers, a natural affinity with the camera, is the same one that allowed her to jump into acting. “For a lot of TV actors, that’s half the battle, to be not intimidated by that camera,” he says. “She’s gone up in my estimation enormously. I won’t lie to you, I don’t think radio was really her calling. I think she did an OK job in a very difficult gig. I’m pleased she got this acting gig out of left field – and even more pleased that she has applied herself to a point where she’s now fully deserving to be there, and I suspect will be there for a long time.”
After all the darkness Frost has endured, she takes comfort in knowing there is light on the other side. “I’ve got the best job in the world. And I’m working on Believe, which is really fulfilling.” She smiles gently. “I am so happy.”