Floating down the red carpet at the TV WEEK Logie Awards on Queensland's Gold Coast last July, Sam Frost recalls feeling equally grateful and awestruck.
The Melbourne star, who became an overnight reality TV sensation on 2014's The Bachelor Australia and 2015's The Bachelorette Australia, had arrived at the ceremony not as a contestant or a guest, but as an actress. To top it off, she was nominated for the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Popular New Talent after a hot debut as Jasmine Delaney in Home And Away.
"I never in a million years could have imagined my career going the way that it has," Sam, 29, tells TV WEEK.
"To be a respected member of the cast has been amazing, and quite surreal. I grew up watching these incredible careers as a child, so I certainly do pinch myself every single day."
Although sceptics wondered how Sam would fare in the long-running Aussie drama – she had little acting experience prior to Home And Away – she pushed herself to learn the craft.
Knowing she would be under intense scrutiny, Sam spent hours reading lines with co-stars and friends whenever she wasn't working with coaches and attending acting classes.
Through that labour and more than a year into her Summer Bay tenure, Sam is now a fan favourite.
Her on-screen alter ego is caught in the middle of an emotional love triangle with the smitten Robbo (Jake Ryan), who proposed to her at the end of last season, and Tori Morgan (Penny McNamee), who has been roping Robbo into her dreams of an IVF pregnancy.
"I'm working harder and continuously pushing myself to grow and learn," Sam admits. "I'm not naive to the fact that I have a long way to go."
But what the Logie nod did is give Sam a boost of confidence that her new career path was the correct one. She stresses that the honour also included Home And Away series producer Lucy Addario.
"It was nice for her because she's the one who said, 'I can see something in her,'" Sam explains.
As Jasmine's arc in Summer Bay has progressed, the cast and crew have rallied around the young star.
"One of the things I love about my storyline is that not only do we get along, but Jake is one of my good friends, and Penny is one of my closest friends on set," Sam says.
"Penny is so talented. Her knowledge is out of this world, and she's more than happy to share it with me."
In turn, Sam says, "I think it's important to respect your workplace and your colleagues and put in the hard work.
"I've got this incredible opportunity and I would be foolish if I didn't work hard, train, and consistently try to grow. I certainly don't take this for granted."
While she absorbs lessons from her castmates, Sam also shares with them her wisdom borne from years in the reality TV spotlight.
"Even though they've got all this acting experience, sometimes they ask me for advice when it comes to the media and how to deal with negative stories," she says.
But the more screen time Jasmine gets, the more Sam remains in the public spotlight to hear all that chatter. And that's OK now for the once-shy finance manager who tried her hand at reality TV and radio before discovering acting.
"I'm very happy with Home And Away and my eyes aren't on anything else," she says emphatically.
"In any industry, if your foot is always out the door, you're not going to be 110 per cent invested in what you're doing. I'm very happy with Home And Away and I'll stay as long as they'll have me."
To read more from our interview with Sam Frost, pick up a copy of the new issue of TV WEEK. On sale now!