Walking along the beach on a sunny Sydney afternoon, Ashleigh Brewer’s blue eyes shine. The newly blonde actor looks every inch the Hollywood star – but one who couldn’t be happier to be back on our shores.
Former Queenslander Ashleigh, who headed to Los Angeles four years ago to portray the glamorous jewellery designer Ivy Forrester in US mega-soap The Bold And The Beautiful, has returned to Australia for a major new role in Home And Away.
In soon-to-be-seen episodes, Ashleigh will move into our favourite coastal town as mysterious police officer Chelsea Campbell, a young woman with a yet-to-be-revealed connection to fellow officer Colby Thorne (Tim Franklin).
Certainly, it’s a pivotal role that will place the 27-year-old star front and centre in the internationally cherished long-running Australian drama.
And Ashleigh, who played Neighbours good girl Kate Ramsay for almost five years from the age of 17 before landing a full-time gig on Bold in 2014, didn’t hesitate to pack her bags when the Home And Away opportunity came knocking.
‘I auditioned for the role and sent a tape from LA,’ says Ashleigh. ‘It all happened pretty quickly. I was so ready for an injection of home soil and I’m loving every minute of it.’
How does the Home and Away schedule compare to that of Bold?
‘There’s a lot of similarities, but then there’s a lot of differences as well,’ she reflects.
‘Bold, for me, tended to start a bit later in the day, and more often than not I would be finished within a few hours of my start time, whereas here it tends to be much more spread out. But that may not be the case for everyone. That’s only my experience. I just really love working in television so much and I feel it makes sense for me.’
And Ashleigh hopes that we like her new alter ego Chelsea as much as she does.
‘I’ve really grown into her,’ she says. ‘She’s very different from the previous roles I’ve played. They’ve all been quite different, so I’m lucky. Playing a police officer is definitely a first for me, too.
‘Chelsea turns up in the Bay with Colby on the brain and pretty much him alone. She knows what she wants out of life and she’s going to keep going until she gets it. Colby’s definitely a big part of the plan. They have a lot of history together and you feel that straight away.’
Ashleigh promises we’ll be enthralled by the plot developments.
‘There are some amazing storylines coming up,’ she says. ‘I’m being challenged the whole way. I’m really learning so much on this show.’
Speaking of Colby, Ashleigh has found a kindred spirit in the character’s portrayer, Tim Franklin.
‘Oh my goodness, I feel so lucky to be working with Tim,’ she says. ‘We hit it off from the very first second.
‘He welcomes anyone with a giant hug and you instantly feel very safe and welcome. He’s the best person to work with. I know that we’ll be friends forever – without a doubt.’
Ashleigh is also happy to report that the entire Home And Away family instantly took her under their wing when she arrived on the set.
‘I’d never really spent much time in Sydney until now, and I don’t have any family here,’ she says.
‘But everyone has just been incredible. I love being part of a big ensemble cast.
‘I think I needed this time on home turf even more than I’d anticipated. It’s been so amazing.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.