Taking over the character from Val Lehman, Danielle knew she had big shoes to fill. While she chose not to reach out to the actress before filming, she did learn a thing or two rewatching old clips.
“With all due respect to Val, who was extraordinary as Bea Smith, I wanted to put my own spin on the character …However, I did have a couple of sessions on YouTube watching clips, and what I did get from Val was how she was with Bea tonally.”
Danielle recalls that she often felt the walls closing in on her while working for long hours, five days a week, in the prison environment.
“Because the production company was in the same building as the set, and we were all there for long periods of time five days a week, I think after a while it felt very claustrophobic. It suited the show and the themes that ran through it.”
With the dark and daunting set helping her to truly step into the mind of her character, she caught a glimpse of what life behind bars was really like.
The experience encouraged her to become an ambassador for SHINE for Kids, an organisation that helps children whose parents are incarcerated.
“I made some fantastic friends,” she reflects. “Everyone just wants to do their best under a lot of scrutiny because of Prisoner. Everyone was really intent on serving the characters to the best of their ability.”
Now that Wentworth is over, Danielle reflects that working on the show is a treasured memory, saying, “It was a special time – one I will remember forever. It’s been a career highlight for me.”
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The latest issue of New Idea is out now.