Actress Tammin Sursok has come a long way since playing the role of Dani Sutherland on Home and Away. Since moving to the US six years ago, Sursok has starred in a series of hit TV shows including The Young and the Restless and Hannah Montana, and is now on the popular American teen drama Pretty Little Liars. I caught up with the 29-year-old to talk about life abroad, working alongside Miley Cyrus and the struggles to make it in Hollywood.
Tell me a day in the life of you.
Each day is a 5am wake-up call. We shoot [Pretty Little Liars] at Warner Bros until about 6.30pm and I then study photography at UCLA at nights. On weekends I’m usually relaxing with my husband and our four dogs.
You have found so much success in LA. Did it all just fall into place for you?
No, it was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I went over there with no job security and no family or friends. I spent a whole year out of work, I went to 1000 auditions and I always heard ”no”, but a measure of success is how you handle disappointments and keep going. It’s definitely a very scary and tough business to be in and it takes a lot of resilience and it takes a person who is willing to put themselves through the torture … You have to keep on moving and you have to believe in yourself and you have to know what you’re capable of. People can say success has come easy for me but they don’t see the work behind it.
Tell me about your character on Pretty Little Liars.
I play a visually impaired villain. It’s a meaty role for me, as I normally play the girl next door. When we started the show we didn’t really know how successful it would be. It’s based on a book series, so we already had a built audience, but it’s really found a cult following. We just got picked up for season five. The show is definitely going very smoothly right now.
What was it like to land a role on such an iconic daytime TV show as The Young and the Restless when you first moved to the US?
It was my first big show since Home and Away, so I was relieved that someone hired me [laughs]. I actually watch the show, so it was surreal to be on the set that I had grown up with. It got me an agent and it got me a visa to work in America so I’m very thankful for that show. I learnt a lot so it was very sad to leave … but it was time to move on.
What was it like to then work for the Disney Channel?
It was actually one of the most exciting experiences because people don’t realise that those sitcoms are filmed and shot in front of a live studio audience, so it’s like live theatre. We would rehearse all week and then we would shoot … on a Friday night.
Are you still in contact with your co-star, Miley Cyrus?
No, I think everyone just moved on. When you work over there you spend a lot of time on set and don’t have much time for a social life. She is really talented and she is really funny, so it was great to be around the energy.
What’s the first thing you do when you come back home?
I have a really awesome Australian coffee and have a piece of barramundi and I see my parents. I look forward to that.
Will you ever move back to Australia?
My husband and I are talking about having kids at some point and I would love my kids to be schooled in Australia. I went to a school called Ravenswood on the north shore, so hopefully they can be schooled there.
You had a Billboard top-100 hit in the US; will you continue your singing career?
At the moment I don’t have the time. But it’s definitely in my blood, so I would never say never, but it just takes time. If I have a break [from acting] it’s definitely something to be explored.
What’s next in the pipeline?
My husband and I have a production company and we just had our first film get into [the] American film festival Tribeca and we just got distribution in the States. We also wrote a movie together and we are just putting the final pieces together, plus we have two TV shows in development right now in the States and hopefully one of them we can bridge to Australia because it has a lot of Australian content in it.
WE WENT TO Rosehill Gardens, Rosehill.
WE ATE A selection of canapes.
WE DRANK Moet Rosé imperial.
TAMMIN WORE Alexander McQueen dress and Neil Grigg hat.