Mum and Dad met at university – they are both chalkies [teachers]. Dad didn’t make the greatest first impression though; he sauntered up to Mum like a young Mick Jagger and thought he was pretty cool.

My dad went to Canada for a year to work as a secondary science teacher when I was two. Mum and I went over as well, but she had to bring me home because I got very sick with asthma. Dad had to finish the year out there and I remember being reunited with him at the airport and crying tears of joy. Dad is a big weeper like me.

I am an only child, like Dad. He is a man of great integrity. He is a great listener and worked in many disadvantaged schools in Adelaide. Dad had his heart continually broken because he’s a big advocate for students who are voiceless. He found it quite hard in the end to actually get traction with change in their lives. He is very loving and thanks to that sense of duty and love he was able to teach those kids what somebody caring about them looks and sounds like.

Mum’s brother, Jim, died from a sudden asthma attack when he was 45 when I was in year 10. He was a big character in our family, a bombastic guy I totally adored. My maternal uncle John works as a chef and we are very close.

I didn’t really have any interest in boys at school. During my final year of primary school, I remember being at the school disco when the Boyz II Men song End of the Road came on and my best friend started pashing her boyfriend on the dance floor. I remember thinking, “I’m not ready for this. I can’t believe it’s happening.”

I had my first boyfriend in year 11. I was very much part of his family and cared about all of them. I am grateful for that experience. It was a kind introduction to relationships.

I met my husband [trombonist Ben Gurton] while I was still in year 12, but nothing happened – he is seven years older than me. He was performing a solo at my school and was invited back as part of a concert. I remember being besotted. I couldn’t breathe, sleep or eat – it was embarrassing. We stayed in contact but on my 18th, right before my exams, I told him I had to concentrate on them and he respected my wishes. We lost contact for five years.

I was single for most of that time. I was studying at NIDA and it was my first time away from home – I’d moved from Adelaide to Sydney. I met Ben again at a cafe opposite NIDA while I was in my third year. We started dating soon after. Our first date was to an Italian restaurant and I ended up eating all his dessert.

It was a surprise to me to marry young – I was 25. It wasn’t something I aspired to do, or thought was necessary for me. Ben proposed and we’ve been married for 12 years. We have a four-year-old son, Toby.

My husband is a freelance trombone player and our lives are quite similar in that we never know when work will come next. We consult each other about upcoming jobs and make it work. When Toby was 10 weeks old, I went back to work on Upper Middle Bogan and Ben was the primary carer.

I have always admired Australian film director and actor Wayne Hope, the creator and director of Upper Middle Bogan. His style of leadership is very playful and the way he is able to get a people to feel validated for the work they do and to operate at a high level is quite a skill.

Playing for Keeps airs on Channel 10.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale November 10.

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