She may be a newcomer to Summer Bay, but Emily Eskell is certainly no newbie to the world of Home And Away. The actress, who joins the cast as Simone, admits she's a devotee of the long-running drama.
"I've been a Home And Away fan pretty much my entire life," Emily, 28, tells TV WEEK. "It helped me thorough my feral adolescence and taught me many a life lesson."
Emily recalls that a poster of her crush − Christopher Egan, who played Nick Smith − was taped to the lid of her school desk. She cites Kane Phillips (Sam Atwell) and Kirsty Sutherland (Christie Hayes) as her all-time favourite couple.
"You know how music reminds you of different times in your life?" Emily says. "For me, seeing photos of couples from the show takes me back to a very specific time of my life."
The opportunity to join the series was the fruition of a long-held dream – and one that's come on the back of patience and persistence. Emily says she's auditioned for Home And Away several times since graduating from prestigious drama school NIDA five years ago.
"When I got the brief for Simone, I thought, 'This is a part I could probably get,'" Emily says. "Usually they [the character briefs] come to me and I'm like, 'Oh, I'm not your super-typical Aussie Home And Away gal'. I've always found it hard to get work in Australia because of that."
Her debut in Home And Away is a breakthrough career moment – and it certainly hasn't happened overnight.
"It's been pretty tough the last couple of years," Emily admits. "I've had very little work."
The actress, who also has a degree in international politics, says trying to secure professional work has been "excruciating".
"Many times I've thought, 'What have you done? You're wasting your degree!'" she says.
Joining Home And Away is Emily's first significant foray into television. She regards it as a wonderful training ground.
"You learn so much when you're in the thick of it, in almost a sink-or-swim situation like this," Emily says. "There are the rehearsals, the scripts, the amount of scenes and learning how to plot your journey through the episodes.
"And learning all the technical stuff too – even though I'd done a bit of film and TV, I'd mostly done theatre before this. They're very different beasts."
Emily says the cast has been welcoming.
"They've been amazing – I feel very lucky," she says. "It's been the most positive work experience in my life."
To read more from our interview with Emily, pick up a copy of the new issue of TV WEEK.
Home and Away airs Monday to Thursday, 7pm, on Channel Seven.