When Sam Frost received the news that she had landed a role in Aussie drama Home And Away last year, she was ecstatic. Like most acting newcomers, the opportunity to call Summer Bay home was simply a dream come true.
But, sadly, not everyone was celebrating her victory. Shortly after Channel Seven announced the former star of The Bachelorette Australia would be joining the cast, Sam was hit with a tsunami of criticism. Her social media was inundated with trolls labelling her a "publicity stunt" for the show.
"I can understand why people would say, 'Hang on, isn't that the chick from The Bachelorette, and now she's going to be in Home And Away?'" the 28-year-old tells TV WEEK. "But people don't see the months of gruelling hard work I did in the lead-up to it."
It turns out, this wasn't the first time Sam had auditioned for the show.
"I didn't get the role I originally auditioned for and had to go through the process again," she explains.
Proving that the cast of H&A truly are a family unit, Sam's co-star James Stewart leapt to her defence.
"She's a good egg," the 42-year-old beams. "I remember her auditioning and seeing those first nervous shuffles into acting. I applaud her – she's killing it."
After a failed relationship with Blake Garvey on The Bachelor, Sam put her heart on the line again in The Bachelorette. She found love with construction manager Sasha Mielczarek, but dating in the spotlight proved difficult and they split after 18 months together.
"I was in my 20s and dating publicly," Sam explains. "Like anyone, it can be quite difficult at times – you go through a lot of ups and downs."
But Sam insists she has no regrets.
"In your early 20s, you're just figuring it out and making mistakes," she says. "Now, I know what my value is and what I stand for. However, in five years' time, I'll probably look back and think, 'Oh, mate – you had no idea!'"
But now, Sam can't wipe the smile from her face as she talks about her new beau, navy diver Dave Bashford. Having known each other for years, this cute couple fell in love, organically, and away from prying eyes.
"It's totally sweet," Sam enthuses of their romantic story. "We've been best friends for years – before I was ever on The Bachelor. He just has a laugh about it all [fame], but his opinion of me doesn't change. I'm the same daggy Sam!"
While Sam says she can understand the interest in her love life, she's choosing to keep details of this relationship close to her chest.
"People are familiar with my story and are incredibly supportive, which is lovely," she says. "But now I've moved into acting, it's nice to have more of a private life when it comes to dating."
Looking ahead, Sam is all about embracing life – including her role as Jasmine Delaney in H&A.
But it wasn't until she arrived at the Channel Seven studios for her first day of work that the reality of what she had achieved finally dawned.
"It's exciting, because I grew up watching Home And Away," she says. "I walked the halls of the studios and the walls are filled with old TV WEEK covers dating back 20 years ago.
"I remember watching those episodes as a kid, so I feel blessed to be part of the family."
However, her first day on set didn't exactly go according to plan!
"I was quite nervous," she begins.
"And in one scene, my character has to anxiously walk away. But as I did, my bag strap got caught on a stool and I dragged it across the set – I was so embarrassed!"