Life’s been a bit theatrical from curtain up. But I don’t come from a showbiz home. Far from it. I merely wedged a hefty eight pounds into the hospital of Palmerston North, New Zealand and immediately declared myself a firm soprano.
Mum and I were like the Gilmore Girls from day one. Apparently my birth father pulled up at the maternal ward with a new red head, in the form of a sporty two-seater. There was no space for me.
My heartbroken mother threw her bling down the Manawatu River instead of her baby. Only, she probably should've sold the carats for carrots as she was left a solo working class parent.
She cleaned up everything from toilets to other people's acts in order to shove my dimpled ass up life's ladder. I vowed very early on to reach a rung that she never got a chance to stand on.
When I was 10, I queued for hours to get Angela Bloomfield’s autograph. I really wanted to be on Shortland Street. When I finally met her, I said, “We must work together some time.”
That’s all and that’s everything.
For a while, my aforementioned dimples wouldn't disappear into oblivion. I was teased a lot at school for being fat and freaky looking. I have a vivid memory of one of the cool kids throwing easy peelers at me in art class. My 5+ a day kept hitting me like a bad comedy act. I wasn't pretty and I wasn't cool.
I got good grades. Just not dates. I never snuck out of my window to meet a boy because I had no reason to. I wasn’t asked out once during high school. But even if the opposite sex had been throwing pebbles at my bedroom window, Mum would’ve opened the door. We had no secrets.
I was an honour student and later a prefect, balancing academia
with performing arts tuition. I won some awards at school and then at a competition where you're meant to have a private tutor with lots of letters after their name. I didn't. One approached me afterwards and offered to help me hone my craft.
A year later I played my first lead role in a show. It was a children’s musical called Three Cheers for Mrs Butler. I endeavoured to channel my inner teacher through the ones I've been lucky enough to have over the years. A top talent agent was recommended. But Mum suggested university instead. I slammed my bedroom door so hard it fell off, which is a good contraceptive for raging hormones.
Upon being dragged kicking and screaming through the tertiary gates of Massey University, Palmerston North, I stumbled upon a Communication degree. I say stumbled because I was on crutches, having overdone the 80s party at orientation week. I just happened to pick papers that were core to the parchment I wound up with. It enabled me to study the arts and business simultaneously. Both have come to serve me well.
I'm surprised that I have my higher education, actually. I skived off of some of my first semester exams. My terrible twos struck at 20. But it came to pass that I'd already passed myself, due mostly to my theory on a philosophical paper about knowledge and reality. Was that chair really there or just a perception?
I wrote something along the lines of, "It's not the chair that you need to worry about, dear. It's the person pulling it out for you." This would later become a key theme in my life to date. Or not to date.
I got an A+. For the paper, not my relationships. I’d get escorted out of any educational institution for that.
Afterwards, I just kept my head down. Mum got sick and I guess I wanted to put a smudge on Earth for us both.
So I earned a place on the Dean's List and the offer of a top student post graduate scholarship. The workforce beckoned. But I was recently invited back to give a guest lecture about my experiences within it to date.
I got my first ‘real’ job by asking for it – after I’d realised that there’s no such thing. I just wanted to be close to Mum. That’s one of the only real things I’ve ever known. Palmerston North isn’t exactly bustling with PR executives like Samantha Jones in Sex In The City. That would come later. As it were.
Naturally, I approached the one place that services the whole town – the council. I gathered my resume (“I’m a really hard worker, I just haven’t really worked yet”) and put on my best suit. It’s in my favourite colour of vintage pink and by one of my favourite New Zealand designers, World. I spent my entire summer allowance on it. Even though I didn’t have a job to wear it to. Yet.
Me: I’d like to speak with the Public Relations Manager, please.
Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?
But the city’s foremost spin doctor now did. He gave me a trial assignment. I was to sing the praises of the Manawatu Gorge
Biodiversity Project. Well, I belted them in every possible proverbial PR key. Twice. I kipped on official scientific documentation in order to gain a thorough background on flora and fauna.
I was useless at biology. I mean, I only took the subject for the purposes of a well rounded education. There’s no way I was ever going to dissect a rat. Maybe I should have. I feigned a violin lesson instead. Only, I was crap at that too. In junior orchestra, the teacher suggested I mime for the awards ceremony.
My first story written to be published never was.
But I still got hired. I kept working and even channelled my inner Samantha Jones for a while. A few years later, I started my own business. I shone the spotlight on so many impressive companies and people. But I missed being in a different kind of one. I knew I’d regret spending my entire life in a black out.
So, back to Angela Bloomfield. I stood next to her on set. She smiled at me and I thought, “Shall I say something?”