We know Georgie Parker from her many iconic television roles, such as Lucy Gardiner in A Country Practice, Terri Sullivan in All Saints and Ruth “Roo” Stewart in Home and Away. But her latest project – Duets, a concert tour with her old pal Todd McKenney, 52 – reveals acting isn’t the only string to her bow.
“I don’t know if people will be surprised; hopefully they’re entertained! But if they’re surprised, too, then that’s great,” she says with a laugh. Meeting as teens in a pas de deux class at Sydney’s Ross Coleman School of Performing Arts, the pair formed a connection the first time Georgie had to trust Todd to catch her.
“There’s a shorthand for how you suss people out before you start allowing them to throw you into the air, and one of the best things about Todd was that he always had your back. Dancing with him is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever done,” she says.
In fact, her feet barely touch the ground when they’re dancing together, and they still have an enormous amount of fun when they catch up.
“We’re incredibly cheeky and can remember jokes from 20 years ago, so anything is fodder! It’s a delicious mix of hard work, taking the mickey out of each other and knowing when someone needs a cup of tea,” she says.
With their friendship of 30-plus years and a shared love of dancing and singing, it seems only natural Todd and Georgie have decided to tour the nation to belt out famous duets.
She says, “We were chatting one day and Todd said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do a show together?’ Now here we are!”
While Georgie is squeezing in rehearsals between her Home and Away shooting schedule, she knows when it’s time to stop and rest – an important lesson learned from a very busy life.
“If you’re not honest with yourself you’ll always have trouble finding yourself, so trust your instincts,” she says.
One reason why this multiple Logie Award winner seems unflappable is her scoliosis diagnosis at age 13.
She says, “When I was diagnosed with scoliosis and put into a brace my orthopaedic surgeon said I wouldn’t be a ballet dancer. I said, ‘That’s great because I want to be an actor!’".
Although there’s a 59-degree curve in her spine, she counts herself lucky because it’s in a “good” spot, so she was able to wear a brace for three years instead of having surgery.
“[The curve] misplaces my rib cage, so it sounds painful, but because it’s happened my body gradually has been very accommodating. I'm fortunate as it’s a minefield for some people,” Georgie explains.
This positivity allows her to focus to remain on all the things she can do, rather than those she can’t.
“It impacts me on a daily basis and I just have to stay fit to keep my back as functional as possible. I just went for a swim this morning,” she says.
“I always manage to look on the bright side because that’s the best way to move forward.” And although Georgie experiences pain and stiffness, she remains stoic.
“It’s endless work but I’m up for a challenge. I’ve never resented [having scoliosis] and it’s made me realise how lucky I am that, while I have this significant challenge, I can still live my life pretty much how I want to,” she adds.
Georgie and her husband Steve Worland are in the throes of raising their teen daughter Holly, 16, and the actress is happy to say the household is relatively free of adolescent drama.
“We have a really open and honest relationship with Holly. While it doesn’t mean there’s no conflict it does mean there’s always an honest relationship to go back to,” she says.
And is Georgie worried about having an empty nest soon? Not at all.
“They leave a lot later now, so you’re almost in a home yourself by the time they go,” she quips.
You’d be forgiven for thinking someone as cheeky as Georgie would have a few guilty pleasures, but it’s simply not possible – because she doesn’t believe in them!
“I never feel guilty about any of my pleasures. I always have dessert; I’d rather skip the main meal and just have dessert. Chocolate mousse is my favourite.”
She’s also a serial gift-giver who loves spoiling her friends and family.
“I recently went overseas with my daughter and, on the way back, I had to buy a new bag for all the presents I’d bought,” she says. “They’re not ridiculously expensive or anything, but I like making people happy and bringing them a bit of joy.”
See Georgie and Todd McKenney in Duets, touring nationally from August 5.
For more information, visit toddmckenney.com.au