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Holly's new Leaf

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Holly's new leaf

6 July 2005



Home and Away, PG

Channel 7, weeknights, 7pm

Home-grown soap

Duration: 30 minutes

A happy host has become a Summer Bay baddie, write Eleanor Sprawson and Darren Devlyn

HOLLY Brisley is about to take the biggest step of her career: she is out to make us hate her.

"I was pretty concerned about it at first," says the actor and presenter who has joined Home and Away as that rarest of things in Summer Bay: a superbitch.

"I've built my whole career around my personality and I'm a fairly happy, easygoing person, so that's what I'm known for and that's what I've been comfortable with.

"So when I signed up to do this I thought, oh no, I'm going to get eggs thrown at my house. People are going to hate me.

"So I was worried. I'd hate for anyone to think that I'm anything like the character. But then I thought, that's why it's called acting. I'm really moving into a new sort of mindset and a new phase."

The villainous Amanda Vale is Dan's (Tim Campbell) ex-wife, who turned up in Summer Bay bent on ruining Dan's wedding to new love Leah (Ada Nicodemou).

And that was just the beginning.

"Amanda is a vixen and there's not been many of them on Home and Away that cause too much mischief," Brisley says, laughing.

While she's causing mayhem on the set of Home and Away, Brisley, after more than her share of ups and downs, says she has discovered equilibrium in her private life.

"Show business is a tough business with a high unemployment rate and I realised I didn't want to live my life feeling I was at the mercy of it all the time," she says.

"I became determined to make myself a life outside of work. When you do that, you learn to be more objective about things. I have tried not getting too emotionally involved in career matters that don't turn out as well as you'd like."

Brisley has, however, given in to emotion when it comes to matters of the heart.

When she spoke to the Guide, she was doing her best to remain calm about an exciting development in her love life.

She was falling in love with marketing executive Paul Ford. Having had her heart broken in the past, she was reluctant to suggest she'd met Mr Right.

But Ford proposed marriage on a recent holiday in Venice, and she accepted.

The engagement is the latest in a string of successful events in her life.

She hosted Channel 7's World's Craziest Home Videos and came third on Dancing with the Stars.

"It would definitely have to be my best year yet," she says.

"I'm just so happy to have a bit of routine in my life. It's what everybody needs, I think, but it's something I haven't had for a long time."

Brisley, 27, first appeared on TV as a sunny 16-year-old sidekick to a bad-tempered puppet on Agro's Cartoon Connection, and did a stint as host of Nine's short-lived Looney Tunes Show in 2002.

"I always wanted to be an actor -- I never thought about presenting. Now I love both, but the problem has been that everyone's always said to me, `Well, what are you? An actor or a presenter'? And I'm like, `I'm both'," she says.

The struggle between what she wanted to do and how she was perceived led to some dark times.

"You do have your moments of despair," she says. "You think, what am I doing? And you think maybe you should just try something else."

Instead, she decided last year on some big life changes in the hope they would lead her to better things.

"I was living in the eastern suburbs (of Sydney) and you can really get caught in that rut where you go to functions all the time because people are inviting you to places," she says.

"I spent more time working out what outfit I was going to wear than thinking about work. I was really just drifting."

So she moved to the northern beaches and surrounded herself with a group of old childhood mates -- far away from the temptation of red carpets.

"I wanted to get away from all that. It's a matter of getting back to basics and finding out what's important to you and looking more deeply into what it takes to make it," she says.

"I was happier straight away and when you're happy on the inside it shows."

Home and Away celebrates its 4000th episode on Friday.

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