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Charles in charge

Date: 09/08/1998
Words: 537
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Television
Page: 9
Acting is this former model and Ramsay Street resident's first - and last - love

By rights, Nicola Charles shouldn't even be here. In Australia, that is. As a former English model-turned-thespian, her roots lie somewhere rather more verdant than the mythical, suburban Ramsay Street.

The 28-year-old daughter of a Brazilian father and German mother, Charles was raised in rural Worcestershire, England, amidst rolling green hills.

She studied drama, dancing and singing from the age of six, turning to modelling at 19 after being spotted by an executive from a leading European soft-drink company.

"I was an actor to begin with, people forget that," Charles says, "and did every class that was going. Then I did some modelling for a while and have been tagged by that ever since. That happened when I was 19. I spent the next seven years walking up and down runways and the bulk of the time since trying to prove to people I can act.

"It was great for my bank balance and to see the world, but I realised there was no long-term future in modelling. I like to think I'm an actor-turned-model-turned-actor. People should know me as that."

Of course, keen fans of Neighbours know her only as Sarah Beaumont. She of the waspish tongue and sharpish put down. Many have applauded how quickly she settled into the role and cast, but they forget that while she may have been a model, she was also watching television.

Anyone who has spent any time in the UK knows Australian television drama provides the entertainment backbone for the four major free-to-air networks.

"When I was growing up, I was fed on a TV diet of Australian drama. There was Neighbours, but also Sons And Daughters, Home And Away, the lot. Now my freinds back home are gobsmacked. They see me on Neighbours and can't believe it's the same girl. They even ask me to send over tapes so they can find out what's happening. It's that big, people can't get enough of it."

Certainly, they approve.

"Mum is my biggest fan. Dad is an academic, so he doesn't tune in that much, but he is behind me all the way."

Charles refuses to talk about her private life. Former Neighbours heartthrob Scott Michaelson has been her partner for two years and both are aware of the pitfalls of being seen as a public item.

They met in London and Scott was behind Nicola's decision to work in Australia. "He laughed hysterically when I told him I had a part in Neighbours," Charles said. "Now I have made this my home he doesn't laugh so much any more.

"Instead I have some fresh respect that I could hack it and make it work."

Last year she made headlines when she arrived at the Logie Awards in a sexy lingerie-style outfit. She raised the eyebrows of Network Ten executives and sparked gossip she may want to move further afield than Ramsay Street.

So does she see herself modelling in five years' time?

"No way. On the West End stage I hope. That's every actor's dream.

"Of course, still playing Neighbours wouldn't be half bad either..."

* Neighbours airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 10.

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