There's no denying 2020 has been a year like no other.
But for actress Sophie Dillman, the one constant has been her amazing Home And Away family.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Now To Love, the star, who plays Ziggy Astoni on the show, says being reunited with the cast and crew of the long-running soapie in May after it was forced to shutdown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic was a special moment.
"Spending eight weeks away when we weren't filming and then coming back and seeing everyone, it's like a family. So being able to come back together and work together again – especially because we work so hard – it was a real treat," Sophie tells us of the unprecedented eight-week shutdown of the production of Home And Away in March.
From the camera crew to the hair and make-up artists, Sophie says every department of the tight-knit team get on "like a house on fire."
"We're all really close because we spend at least 12 hours a day together," she explains.
"Literally everyone on this set gets on like a house on fire. And I'm so grateful because if we didn't, we'd kill each other," she laughs.
For Sophie, she has the added bonus of getting to work with her boyfriend Patrick O'Connor, who plays Dean Thompson on the show.
"Obviously my partner is on set with me and it's fantastic to work with him," the 27-year-old tells us, before revealing the Channel 7 soapie has also helped sow the foundations of friendships with several "great girlfriends."
"Emily Weir (Mackenzie Booth) and Courtney Miller (Bella Nixon) are two of my really close girlfriends," the actress muses of her strong bonds.
In September, Sophie and her real-life boyfriend Patrick's on-screen characters Ziggy and Dean's heart-wrenching break-up scenes were aired. And while many fans grappled with their split, Sophie says they were able to seperate the fictional storyline having any impact on their personal lives.
"We're both actors by profession so our aim was to make it the best work that we could do and we were really proud for doing that," the star says.
And fans needn't worry because off-screen, Sophie and Patrick are happier than ever.
"We are really happy together. It's great," Sophie says of her relationship with the actor.
With Home And Away returning to filming in May under new COVIDSafe measures, the impact of the global pandemic has inspired Sophie to use her platform to champion a cause close to heart.
The former nurse has teamed up with Australian Red Cross Lifeblood and is urging Australians to roll up their sleeves and donate some much-needed blood or plasma.
"It's so important and we are so desperate for it in our country," Sophie explains.
"It's a great way to donate something, especially during this time when there are a lot of people who can't afford to donate money or objects to charity."
For the next six weeks, anyone who donates with Lifeblood will be given a limited edition bandage, which have been especially designed by one of six talented artists: Beci Orpin, Gemma O'Brien, Chris Nixon, Georgia Perry, Kenny Pittock and Brian Robinson.
To help spread the word about the ongoing need for blood and plasma donations, the star is encouraging donors to join her in proudly flexing their true colours in their bandages on social media, sharing their best "flex" selfies, using the hashtag #LifebloodAU.
"I actually went and donated this morning and got one of my bandages. It's bright-pink with orange on it, it's so beautiful."
To book a donation, visit lifeblood.com.au or call on 13 14 95.