An interview with Victoria Supple, Home and Away’s ex-Publicist
Interview conducted by Stephen & John in February 2002 for homeandaway.org — the site merged with BTTB in 2004
How long have you been working as Home and Away’s publicist?
I have been working as a publicist for 7 ½ years and I have being doing Home and Away for about 5 ½. I lose track of time.
Before Home and Away. Before being a publicist I went to University and studied Psychology and Japanese, nothing to do with publicity. But the psychology has helped- seeing how people react.
I actually worked for Channel 7 in the wardrobe department- dressing people part-time when I went through High School and University and I thought I’ve got to get a real job and I went for a job as a publicity assistant. Before I got onto Home and Away, I worked at shows like- “Who dare wins”, “Wheel of fortune”, worked on shows to build up to me to being able to cope with Home and Away because Home and Away is a week nightly show sold overseas, it’s the biggest show I think you can work on during publicity.
So when I first got the job, I thought “Oh no, I don’t know whether I can do that” and it has been just wonderful ever since. The cast are so easy to work with. It is hard on me because some people are more popular than others. That’s just the nature of a show. For me I try to even it out, but its not going to happen we try to build people up but other people are going to be built up more because they are doing- being asked to do more scenes. For me I try to even it out. But you are never going to achieve that because a character might be more popular than another character. People are watching thinking they know that person because of their character.
So character- the way it is written is also very important because you publicise a person, you want to show who they are.
Do you work long hours?
I’d like to say I’m fully dedicated to the show because I’m, part of the show and I have a very good relationship with the cast as I have to be on call.
My job can be counselling as well because people are coming from nowhere to getting into fame. So they have to deal with that themselves but I can at least help them along the way to understand. My job is to protect them. So its just more than doing interviews and photo shoots. It is also being there for them.
I put in a lot of hours because we also work long hours but sometimes I have to be here to sit with a person to do UK interviews because of the time difference so I have to work back. Sometimes I have to work on weekends because we have appearances with Channel 7. I do get a lot out of my job.
Are you a publicist for Home and Away or Channel 7?
For Channel 7 yes. All the Home and Away people think I’m just there for Home and Away but that’s my main job. I’m the Home and Away publicist but I’m hired by Channel 7 and they put me onto Home and Away- so a bit of both.
Did you always want to be a publicist?
No I fell into working in television when I was 16 doing wardrobe and that was lucky because I knew someone that was working here and on the first day I was nervous, excited, working in television was an adrenalin rush, it was exciting, different. I think from the age of 16 I knew I wanted to stay in television. I didn’t know what part I wanted to take so I used my time working part time in wardrobe to look at everyone and what they were doing.
I remember one publicist coming onto the show and walking on in and getting photos taken. But what do they do? I never understood so I ended up becoming friends with that person and I was asking about publicity and I think I am good with people. The time came when I finished University and I thought I don’t want to become a Japanese translator or tourist guide. I don’t want to do that, after all that study that I realised that’s not what I want to do. I wanted to stay in television. How can I stay in television?
You can’t work in wardrobe because that’s not my profession. It was just something that was there and earn money and more get me through school and Uni. So basically the publicist I made friends with her said there’s a job coming up. I’d love it, that’s when it dawned on me, I’m 21 and this is where I want to be. But I think it was always there that I just had to look for it. So being young I didn’t know what I wanted to do. No idea. I just knew whatever it was it had to be working with people in some form and working with people in television. Working with actors, producers, directors, and crew, you have to have relationships so that they trust you when you come onto their set.
When I walk onto the set, I’m walking onto the directors set so I have to make sure I have a relationship with that director so he trusts me walking on there.
I haven’t looked back.
Do you spend time with cast members?
Yes Home and Away is very tight, like a family. We see more of each other than we do of our own family. We spend so much time shooting the show. The thing that’s hard is that you become good friends with the cast, but you have to take a step back because you are in a role. They need to trust you – you have to develop a different relationship with each person.
My relationship with Chris Egan would be different to my relationship with Ray Meagher. All different age groups, you have to sort of get on their level. I have little jokes with different cast members. Kate Ritchie and I are quite close, we are probably more friends than colleagues. We’re good mates. Ada and I, I’m close to all of them, but there are a couple that obviously are my age group, that you tend to go out with as well. But we are very close and the crew – they always have functions and drinks. Outside we do have drinks at the end of the day. Yeah we’re very close and I think that’s why it comes across on screen that people enjoy watching it because they realise it looks good and it obviously takes a good cast and crew to produce such a show. We do spend a lot of time.
Do you get confused with names?
Sometimes, it depends how tired I am. But no, but I always know them as their real name. Although last week I did call Lyn Colleen and I went “O my goodness Lyn, how could I call you Colleen?” She actually laughed at it and said, ” I don’t mind you calling me Colleen”. I went No, no, no. That’s the only time I’ve ever done it.
If someone’s new, I sort of think, “Oh, what’s their character name”. But no, you work so close and you see them everyday and you are reading scripts every time with their names on it.
Did you go to the UK?
Yes, I did go to the UK which has been the highlight as my profession as a publicist because that’s a big deal for a publicist to go overseas with the crew. Because not everyone gets to go over, but only a very select few.
I think that because Channel 5 re-launched we had 10 cast members there, so we really needed me to go over there just to oversee everything and to make sure that it was running smoothly from a publicity point of view and help out Channel 5.
I was there to make sure that I got the shots I wanted because you’re using a photographer that I’ve never used before who was great but he hadn’t worked on Home and Away before and he hadn’t read the script. I read the script and I tell our photographer what we needed because in different countries, different storylines, I had to be there filming everyday and decide what scenes I wanted covered. So I spent more with the filming cast than I did with the Channel 5 team because they were busy doing the publicity, like the publicist for Channel 5 looks after them. But I’d just make sure they had the right lunch break and they’re being looked after. I’m there to make sure they are being looked after.
So yes, really busy and tiring, but a wonderful experience to see the kids, first time they have been there going “wow this is great”. The weather that was great.
I had 1 day off and I got out of London, but I’d walk into the hotel and you’d be really tired because everyone would be there – jet lag it was tiring, but it was very successful from the fact that it did well here, when we televised it here in Australia. We got a lot of publicity in the UK, so it was a wonderful positive exercise.
Would you work in another country?
I love working here because of our climate and our lifestyle. If I had to work anywhere else, it would be either London or LA, Paris. I’m very settled; I don’t like a lot of change. I love being here and I love Home and Away being on the beach and being able to go on the beach. We are pretty lucky. I don’t think there is any other show that can boast such a great backdrop. Know like say to people- “oh I had to work today, I had to go up to Palm Beach. Oh its really tough, not, its really good”.
But if it was good enough, Yeh I would, I wouldn’t say No.
Would you film in Ireland?
There is talk of it. I think people would like that to happen. I don’t know whether it will. But never say never. We did the UK, I think if it was to happen it might happen in the next two years, I say. But I don’t know. I can’t be positive, but it has been talked. I think people have sort of thrown around the idea.
Russell Webb who was a producer, who is no longer the producer. He was the one that was really going to push Ireland because he thinks it is wonderful and we all do. Lynne McGranger would love to go to Ireland. So if anyone would love to go film there, she would be the one putting her hand up more than anyone else.
Do fans get to see the set?
We get asked everyday, we get phone calls everyday. If we do it for 1 person we have to do it for everyone. So we say that the set is a closed set. That is here at Epping on set, all the interior. It can put the cast off. They tend to play up to people that are sitting there and that’s taking them away from what they should be doing.
But there are certain circumstances where we will allow people to come onto set. Those people are foundations like ‘Make a wish foundation’. Where children that their wish, sometimes their last wish because they are quite sick is to come onto the set of Home and Away. Who are we to say no to that? That is an honour for us to have someone, a little child to have any wish in the world and their wish is to come onto Home and Away. And we just think we are just doing the show, we get caught up in our own little world and sometimes you do forget and sometimes cast do forget that it effects people on a larger scale.
So for us to do something like that, its not that hard to do and it makes their day, makes their week and makes their life, which is a big thing. So yes we do allow some kids to come and some charity organisations, but generally it’s a closed set.
But we do say to people that they can go up to Palm Beach because it is all public property. We don’t normally tell people what days or anything. We try to give people an idea of when we will be up there. We get busloads of tourists everyday up at Palm Beach and on the weekend. I think we film on the weekend.
Would you like to say something to fans of Home and Away?
Yes I’d like to say thank you for their support. It is people that log onto websites, that try to find out information about Home and Away, that are viewers. They are very important to us. We wouldn’t be doing the show if it wasn’t for them. But we realise that and I also want to say some really good storylines are coming up.
I’ve worked on the show five and a half years, the last year and a half I think have been the best storylines ever. I think that’s because we have a good bunch of people at the moment. We’re quite settled.
I think you’ve got the Sutherland family in. So from the Sutherland family onwards it really sort of picks up. That’s been noticeable because of the ratings here and I think that our viewing audience enjoy it, in Ireland and the UK would enjoy it and it just gets better. So keep watching, it is really good that what we are doing it for you guys so we just hope that they enjoy it and can talk about it.
If you could meet anyone famous, who would it be?
I’ve no idea. There’s not one person, I think I would really like to work on a big show like ‘Friends’ or something like that and hang out with the cast and just see what they are like. I admire a lot of actors, probably maybe I’d like to meet Tom Cruise or Nicole Kidman because of everything that has happened. Maybe just for curiosity. I don’t admire them as such, I don’t think oh wow, but I think they are intriguing and especially Tom Cruise because he is very private. It would be interesting to meet him and would hope to say someone like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston. Maybe one of the older all time greats. But I’d really like to hang out with one of the big shows like ‘Ally McBeal’ Just hang out and see how it all works and meet the cast. So it is more from the curiosity point of view.
It’s the same thing that we do here but on a much bigger scale over there. So yeah, I’d say the cast of ‘Friends’ or something like that to see and what it is that makes them be able to get one million dollars per episode. What makes them special?
You see everything in a magazine, that what we do but I’d like to sort of learn a bit more about them personally.
If I think of somebody I’ll let you know. I have to think of somebody, I’ll let you know. I have to have a think for 1 person in particular.
If you had a day off, who would you like to spend the day with?
My family more, my sister because she lives in Queensland, so the distance is hard. But I’d like to spend more time with my sister. I spoke to her this morning and she is coming over in two weeks time, coming down from Queensland and I really can’t wait to spend more time with my sister. Yep she is 22.