Sophie Dillman is Yahoo Lifestyle Australia's new columnist. Sophie will be bringing insider insights into everything from her time on Home and Away to what it's like being in the public eye and falling in love in the workplace.
Every job has its challenges. When I worked in a bar, my biggest concern was that I would spill a jug of beer on the hot young lawyers who came in for happy hour. When I coached rowing, I wanted every kid I coached to love the sport as much as I did (and try not to lose any of them along the way). When I worked as a nurse, I had the responsibility of caring for someone’s mother, husband or child as my own. Being a working actor though is a whole different ball game.
Don’t get me wrong, working on Home and Away has been the best experience I have ever had and that job is only possible because there are millions of people invested in the show, your character and by extension, yourself. I think Home and Away in particular has such a devout fan base that there is an extra interest in any actor that lands on the shores of Summer Bay.
In the earlier days of my career, I believed lack of privacy and public scrutiny was the cost of working in television. However, talking about people experiencing these things and actually experiencing those things yourself are very different.
I’ve had my friends targeted and attacked by spineless keyboard warriors who have called them awful names, spread lies and threatened people in comments on my Instagram. I’ve had embarrassing articles published about me (especially my appearance) that have resulted in me hysterically crying outside Woolworths at Westfield. Interviewers have asked me very outwardly inappropriate questions that I have had to navigate without crying or running away. In short, it can be really hard.
However, working in television has given me access to all kinds of opportunities. It has given me the privilege of meeting some incredible people who have shaped my career, advised me and inspired me to do better and be better. These incredible humans have made me feel included and important, in turn making me a better artist and hopefully a better human being. Creatives are the coolest people on earth.
It has also given me the honour of working with organisations like The Abilities Ball run by Trevor Sandzy. The joy on those kids' faces when we are dancing and laughing together are some of my favourite memories. Being an Ambassador for Endometriosis Australia has not only improved my quality of life because I’ve learned more about managing my condition, but has also permitted me to offer support to thousands of women who are suffering. Working at the multiple hospital Telethons and meeting some of the strongest families has inspired me beyond anything imaginable.
I do feel a responsibility to ensure that all the eyes watching me outside acting see a real human, with real feelings. I would hate to think that anyone who saw me in an interview or on social media felt they needed to change who they were or how they looked because of my public persona. Conversely, I am not bulletproof and struggle with MANY insecurities of my own. I get swept up in the perfection seen in social media and my profession a lot. I wish there were more women in the public eye that looked like real people; I have faith it is changing, but there is a long way to go.
Reflecting on this part of my career has been a bit confronting. There are times that I would prefer to forget but all of these experiences have lead me to this point- sitting in a London café thinking about the craziest and best years of my life. Hard? F*ck yes. Fair? Not always. Worth it? Totally.
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