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Playing For Keeps star Olympia Valance spills on the "full-on" side to her job

With an already impressive career, former Neighbours and Dancing with Stars contestant, Olympia is paving her own way

By Maddison Hockey
Like many young girls growing up, Olympia Valance idolised her older sister.
For most other girls, however, their sister wasn't also international actress and pop star Holly Valance, well known for playing Felicity Scully in Neighbours.
Olympia, now 26, followed in Holly's footsteps, also making her way to Ramsay Street in 2014 to play Paige Smith.
But now, the Melbourne-born actress is well and truly kicking her own career goals, starring as Tahlia Woods in AFL drama Playing For Keeps.
Clockwise from top: Playing For Keeps' Annie Maynard, Madeleine West, Cece Peters, Olympia and Isabella Giovinazzo. (Source: TV Week)
Olympia says she never imagined she'd be destined for stardom.
"I always looked up to my sister," Olympia recalls. "She was a pop star and I wanted to be just like her. I don't know how it even happened, but everything fell into place and I became just like her – apart from the singing, obviously." [Laughs].
Olympia shares more about playing Tahlia, being a real-life WAG, and what's up next for her career with TV WEEK...
TV WEEK: You say you can't sing, but you certainly proved you could dance on Dancing With The Stars this year, which you followed up with a live appearance at the Sydney Opera House for Burn The Floor. How was it?
Olympia: It was full-on, because I was working here [in Playing For Keeps] and I hadn't trained or seen Jarryd [Byrne, her Dancing With The Stars partner] for a while. But I surprised myself. I remember the dance – it was amazing and such an honour to be dancing on the Sydney Opera House stage. I'm a massive dance fan, but I forgot how much I loved it.
From Neighbours to Playing For Keeps – how have you found joining a new cast?
It's really nice to all get back together; we're like family. And thank God we all like each other, because we're all in such close proximity for so many hours a day. We sit in this bus for hours on set and have so much fun. The conversations we have should
be in the show because they're such real chats – real-life and deep.
WATCH NEXT: Olympia Valance on Dancing With The Stars. Story continues below...
How has the show evolved for you since season one?
This season is very female-based, which is awesome. And the show is awesome, but it does mean more hours and hard work. We've been doing night shoots, and I've got a Fitbit on at the moment that tells me how much sleep I've had – three-and-a-half hours. It [being an actress] looks so glamorous, and I love my job, but I'm exhausted.
Do you ever take a break after filming to decompress from a role?
I haven't seen sun in about a year; I couldn't wait [to go on holidays]. I just wanted to sit on the beach and drink. I had
to wait to see if my partner Thomas made [the AFL] finals [Olympia is dating Essendon Bombers ruckman Thomas Bellchambers]. We finished work on exactly the same day and just went.
Tahlia takes 
a shine to player LIam (Ben Chapple) in PFK. (Source: TV Week)
How have you found the parallels between playing Tahlia and being a WAG in real life too?
There are definite similarities. I kind of just go to work, do my job, come home to my boyfriend. It's nice at the minute. It's hilarious, really. Some conversations in the show are ones I've had with Thomas! I know far more about the game than I ever did before, and I watch the football all the time now, which I never really did. And I've obviously changed the team I support!
Do you find a lot of other similarities between yourself and Tahlia?
All the time! Sometimes, I read these scripts and I'm like, "Is this my life?" When her mum comes and we find out the story of why their relationship is so torn, I can relate to that to some extent. The story between Tahlia and Narelle is that they were best friends, and then Narelle found a partner.
My mum and I were like that too. And then she met her husband, which was when I turned feral. It was only when I got a bit older that I was like, "Oh, you're actually a great guy." So I understand Tahlia's rebellious turn. I think a lot of people are able to relate to that relationship.
Olympia and boyfriend, Essendon Bombers ruckman Thomas Bellchambers. (Source: Instagram @olympiavalance)
Many of Tahlia's storylines are relatable to women, including the leaked nude photo. Did you relate to that as well?
Worst nightmare! I could relate to that. I've had a few pap [paparazzi] photos of me with no top on. I get paps all the time catching you in awful positions. That time, I was in Greece on the beach with my family.
So I understand that feeling of waking up in the morning and seeing that for the whole world to see. You're still human beings. So I hope this show can shed a light on the private lives of these people, because it's not all amazing.
Like Tahlia, you're very fashion-focused. You've had some amazing looks at the TV WEEK Logie Awards too. Has that always been a passion?
No, I feel like that's kind of just evolved over time. I've always loved clothes, but now I have the chance to wear them and experiment with events, trying new things and being outrageous or simple.
Olympia Valance arrives at the 61st Annual TV WEEK Logie Awards at The Star Gold Coast in June. (Source: Getty)
Is there a dream role you'd love to land?
I feel we're making some really good drama in Australia at the moment, and obviously I want to stick around here a bit longer [with Thomas]. Australia is my home and I've set up a pretty nice life here. It would be nice to try a character that's not so close to who I am – something completely different – just to challenge myself and see if I even have the range.
Season Finale of Playing For Keeps airs Wednesday, 8.30pm on Network 10

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