Home and Away star Jacqui Purvis is embarking on an extremely personal and ‘important’ project over the next few weeks, and it’s clear how passionate she is.
The actress has written a short film Voicemails Last Forever, which explores themes of ‘mental health, grief and suicide’, with the hope of breaking down ‘taboos’ and stigmas surrounding the topics.
Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Jacqui talked about how the Home and Away family has helped her, why she’s so desperate to use her platform for good, and what she hopes to achieve.
The star first started writing her short film three years, after a confronting conversation with one of her close friends, Bradley.
While Jacqui hasn’t had ‘suicidal thoughts’ before, she said the conversation ‘really affected her’, and she wanted to do something to help.
“I actually wrote it all down, because that’s my way of processing information.
“And then we had Covid, and so many things happened, and especially going through Covid — I think a lot of people really suffered from [mental health issues],” she remembers.
The star wants to help kickstart a conversation about these ‘taboo’ or difficult topics.
“Sometimes it’s the people that you might least expect that are going through something in their life that they need to get off their chest or talk about,” she tells us.
Jacqui is planning to film her project while Home and Away is on hiatus in July, and she has been raising funds online, with 10% set aside for mental health charity Beyond Blue.
Starring in Australia’s top home-grown drama has helped catapult her into fame, and given the actress a large platform to use.
"The fact that I do have this opportunity, I was like, I need to use it. I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t,” she says sincerely.
“I’ve been able to do a GoFundMe and get donations from it, and now we’re able to film it. And then hopefully once we have filmed it, I can then send it out there into the world and again, use my platform to get people to watch it.
“I’m extremely grateful,” she continues.
Home and Away has been described as a workplace that feels more like family, and Jacqui says the team have been a huge support for her.
“I definitely have people here who have helped me kind of produce it and get it to where it is. There’s even people on crew, like cameramen, and I’m always going up to them being like, ‘What lens are we on?’ Maybe I should use this, and ‘What shot are we doing?’
“They’re always teaching me, and then I’ve got my co-stars who have absolutely helped and supported me throughout this whole thing, because working on Home and Away and trying to do this is quite a lot,” she admits.
Home and Away only takes two weeks off as part of their mid-season finale push, and Jacqui reveals that she’s using one of her precious weeks to film her project, which she is starring in.
She jokes that while she won’t get as much rest and relaxation as the other cast members, she’ll have to just take advantage of any spare downtime during weekends.
‘We need to communicate’
Jacqui didn't want to sit around waiting for somebody else to do the work, and says ‘we need to communicate’ more.
“I was like, let’s hustle, let’s do this, let’s actually get this made and try and get awareness out there, [to] really help people that are in need,” she says passionately.
If there’s one thing that she wants to happen after the film is released, she hopes people will ask just one simple question.
“I would love people to come out of it and just ask everyone if they’re okay, not just the people that they think are suffering or going through something. It’s all of their friends and family.
“And just really check in with your loved ones.”
You can support Jacqui's short film here, and 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Beyond Blue.
Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.
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