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EXCLUSIVE: Jane Hall on her close-knit bond with Wentworth cast and why she struggled to find roles in her mid-40s

''I had a few patchy years where I didn’t get a lot of work.''

By TV Week team
Being on set while a photo shoot with the cast of Wentworth is underway is a surreal experience.
With the glamorous outfits, happy chatter and pop music in the background, the atmosphere is worlds away from the acclaimed prison drama's heavy subject matter.
It's clear, as belly laughs reach the next room, where Jane Hall is sitting down to talk to TV WEEK, that the cast of the show has formed a tight bond.
"I'm sure by now you've gathered we're pretty close," Jane, 50, says with a laugh.
"I'm sure by now you've gathered we're pretty close.'' (Image: Phillip Castleton/TV WEEK)
Coming onto the show as a newcomer in season eight alongside co-star Kate Box, who she shared a dressing room with, Jane admits the pair were "terribly nervous" about joining a cast and crew so well established.
"We were just a cloud of fear for the first little while, not sure whether we were fitting in," she says. "My greatest fear was that I would somehow be the weakest link."
As a confessed superfan of the show, she felt the pressure to succeed, especially after the gruelling audition.
"I felt the weight of my own expectation, and also of the fans, that my character [prison General Manager Ann Reynolds] would be well received and fit in," she explains. "I had to audition hard for the role. It wasn't offered to me, so I really had to bring my A-game. And it's been a very important role in my career. It's empowered me 
in ways I never thought possible."
In her 35-year career, Jane has done a bit of everything. After starting out 
as a teenager in the 1985 series The Henderson Kids (alongside Stefan Dennis, who, as Paul Robinson, would be her Neighbours co-star years later), she went on to perform in theatre, be on radio with her friend Chrissie Swan, and score a host of other TV roles.
But it was her time in Neighbours 
as Rebecca Napier, one of the much-married Paul's wives, that still has people stopping her in the street.
Jane on the set of Wentworth. (Image: Foxtel)
"I love people recognising my work – it's a privilege," Jane says. "I adored Neighbours. It's unlike any other job you will ever do – it really teaches you how to think on your feet.
"I've been very lucky to have several reasonably high-profile roles peppered throughout my career that have helped me remain in the zeitgeist."
But although Jane has been a fixture in the Australian acting scene, in her mid-40s, she struggled to find roles.
She wondered if her career had run its course. While she admits that time was difficult, it encouraged her look at other avenues.
"I had a few patchy years where I didn't get a lot of work," she recalls. "It was hard, but on reflection, it served me well. Eventually, the roles started to come in and my passion for performing was reignited. I don't think I'll ever 
be anything but an actor, but I am interested in other ways of being."
Jane has a close relationship with 18-year-old Lucia, her daughter with her ex-husband, actor Vince Colosimo.
This year, Jane faced a fresh challenge: Lucia leaving home. The experience made her reflect on who she is other than a mother.
"I had a few patchy years where I didn't get a lot of work." (Image: Neighbours)
"I feel like it's the most difficult stage in the entire parenting journey," she says. "Letting her go off into the world – and adjusting to the fact that I'm not a day-to-day, hands-on mum anymore. It's been really daunting for me."
With Lucia finishing school and leaving the nest, Jane felt lost without the long list of tasks parenthood demands.
"There's a certain freedom 
that comes with that, but also I kind of don't know who I am without being her mother 24/7," she shares.
"I was mostly a single parent for the whole time she was with me. Now, it was like, 'What shall I do?'
"I don't have to do grocery shopping or drop off anyone at school. I don't have loads and loads of washing. Lucia is just living her life and I'm thinking, 'Well, what now for me?'"
With more time on her hands, Jane has launched into a new unlikely adventure: studying 
to become a midwife.
"Lucia is just living her life and I'm thinking, 'Well, what now for me?'" (Image: Instagram)
"I'm halfway through my degree," she says proudly.
"One day, I hope to graduate and be a midwife as well as an actress, but life is a massive process, and you can't plan these things. You've just got to roll with the punches."
With her role in Wentworth on her CV, and an exciting new chapter ahead, Jane is keen to see what the future holds. And while there are many paths she might take; one thing is for sure: acting will always be her greatest passion.
"I've really enjoyed myself and hope I can continue for another 35 years," she says. "Will I make another 35 years? I'll be 90, but why not?"
You can watch Wentworth on Tuesday, 8.30pm (AEST), on 
FOX Showcase.

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