Growing up in the Sydney suburb of Gladesville, a young Courtney Miller was seemingly the perfect student. She listened to her teachers, completed her tasks on time and never broke the rules.
But at the age of 22, the actress is finally getting the chance to take a walk on the wild side as rebellious teenager Bella in Home And Away.
As TV WEEK sits down for a chat with the rising star, she can't contain her excitement about joining the long-running drama series.
"I never spoke back to teachers or received a detention, so playing Bella is very fun," she says.
"She's a bit cheeky and will tell it how she sees it, so I'm living out my rebellious side! It kind of makes me wish I had been a little rebellious at school!"
Besides the odd commercial, this is Courtney's first significant foray into television.
"This is my first big role and I just got lucky," she says.
"I've auditioned for Home And Away three times before, but felt a strong connection with Bella. This character just clicked with me, although I'm very different to her," she explains.
"But I liked her story and worked really hard."
However, the rising star has never put all her eggs into one basket. In fact, she was busy studying psychology at university and "didn't put much pressure on herself" to get the role.
As we're about to comment on her mature outlook, Courtney indicates it all comes down to her parents' influence.
"My dad and sister are both civil engineers, and Mum is a nutritionist," she says.
"My parents have always been supportive, of course. But my dad warned me that this career will be hard and wanted me to get a degree. Now, he watches Home And Away every night!
"But it's a really hard career to develop, so I'm glad I did it that way. I grew up a lot and learnt a lot about myself."
With a completed degree in psychology and rehab counselling, Courtney has fulfilled her parents' wish. Yet she wasn't completely satisfied and yearned for more.
"I did acting for me," she says. "I paid for my own classes and decided this is something for me. My parents are incredibly supportive, but it makes me proud that I did it myself."
While her focus is on acting, Courtney won't be tossing her degree to the side. She volunteers for Lifeline and remains passionate about helping others.
"It's nice to give back," she says.
In the meantime, the actress is ready to shake up Summer Bay – and preparing herself for the attention she's about to receive.
"I'm very critical about my acting because I'm so passionate about it," she says.
"I want to do this role justice, but I'm aware people may not always like you. Acting is probably the worst career path for that and I struggle with it sometimes, but you have to know yourself."
Should she need advice, however, her co-stars are happy to help.
"I'm still learning, so I came in with an open mind," Courtney says. "The entire cast and crew of Home And Away have been so welcoming and I feel like I fit in.
"I'm finally doing what I was meant to do and it's a wonderful feeling."
Home and Away airs Monday to Thursday, 7pm, on Channel Seven.
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Australian Women's WeeklyJan 23, 2020