For those not familiar with Elly Conway, what can you tell us about the character?
Elly is Susan's niece, the daughter of Susan's sister, Liz. Viewers will have met her as a teenager as she stayed with Karl and Susan for a short while, making friends with Michelle Scully (Steph's sister) and Darcy Tyler. Elly has now returned to the Street to stay with her aunt Susan and to teach English at Erinsborough High. She's a naturally gifted teacher, but she seems to be more interested in partying than working hard, although she uses her fun, outgoing, positive personality to cover up her flaws and insecurities. She's a very strong character - fiery, flirtatious and unpredictable - which can sometimes put her in compromising positions, but she will always keep you on your toes.
What exactly will Elly be bringing to Neighbours in her return to the show?
I think she'll bring a combination of drama, a little bit of mystery and romance.
How difficult does Elly find balancing her career and personal life?
As an actress, I find it quite difficult to understand how she balances her career and her personal life, and get away with the things she does. I think it's because Elly is smart - she's a naturally good teacher - but she's also lazy and focuses on doing what she wants. That said, there's something endearing about her that allows her to get away with it.
Can you personally relate to the character of Elly Conway in any way?
(laughs) Well, growing up I was a bit of a tomboy at times, enjoying soccer and Aussie rules footie, but I'm also a girly girl! I always wanted to be a teacher as a child, so I guess I'm getting to play out one of my childhood dreams through Elly. I would also say I have a bit of Elly's strength, although I'm not as feisty and flirty as she is and I don't have her level of unpredictability.
How collaborative is your approach to the character? Do the show's bosses allow you to really add your own flavour to Elly?
That's a great question. We absolutely have an input. In fact, I was recently talking to the writers who told me I've made Elly more refined than they had originally planned, particularly in the classroom when I'm working with the kids. The team are always willing to listen to our ideas and are open to our interpretations. The great thing about Elly is there are so many layers to her and over the next few weeks and months we'll see more of those layers unfold.
Can you tell us a little bit about a typical day working on the set of Neighbours?
A typical day starts pretty early with a pick up at about 5am or 6am. I'll then go into the hair and makeup department for about an hour before going over my lines and having breakfast. After breakfast I'll then go onto set or go on location and work through and shoot the scenes until lunch. After lunch it's more of the same until it's time to go home, usually around 6pm. As well as filming for the show, a day may also include press interviews, like this one, photography shoots, or recording additional material for our digital team for the website or social media. The days can be long, but it's lots of fun.
Who are some of your favourite people to work with on set and why?
I love all the cast, but I've got great banter between Ben Hall (Ned Willis); Scott McGregor (Mark Brennan); Ryan Moloney (Toadie Rebecchi) and Kip Gamblin (Brad Willis). There's always a great energy when I work with them. And, of course, I love working with Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy). She gives you so much as an actress.
You've also starred in Home & Away - how do the two compare?
As you can imagine, there are a lot of similarities; it's a very similar environment - they have the same family feel, with great relationships and synergy. The Neighbours set is very relaxed and chilled and there's a real fun atmosphere amongst the cast, crew and producers. We have a good time on set and I think that's important.
Finally what's next for you in the coming weeks and months?
It will be a busy few months for Elly; she develops some really interesting relationships with the male and female students as she settles into life at Erinsborough High, and she has a huge tragedy to overcome. Further down the line, a houseguest causes trouble for her, and there's a really wild hen party coming up…
Neighbours, weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and 5.30pm.
Tagged in Neighbours