We’re addicted to Playing For Keeps, the juicy network Ten drama about a group of Melbourne football wives-and-girlfriends and their interconnected lives. Finally, an inside scoop on what these often-photographed, not-so-often-heard-from ladies really get up to! With a little bit of dramatic license, obviously. And most of the ~drama~ comes from the fabulous Olympia Valance, who plays glamorous WAG Tahlia.
We tracked down the busy actor, fresh from a stint in LA, to talk finding inspo for the role close to home, and the one celeb that left her truly starstruck.
We heard you flew home from LA to work on Playing For Keeps. What enticed you to the project?
I did. I had moved over to LA, and spent a few months settling in–I truly felt like it was my new home. And then I received the script for Playing For Keeps. I had always been very open to working [again] in Australia… I just didn’t think I’d want to come home so soon! From the moment I read Episode 1, I knew I needed to play this character and be part of this show. I could tell it was going to be very special. The writing is whip-smart, and I loved this notion of telling a story based in a male-centric world from the perspective of five very powerful women.
Is there anyone or anything in particular that you took inspiration from for your performance?
Not directly, but I do have a few close friends who have professional sportsmen as their partners, so I’ve definitely witnessed life through their eyes over the years. When I found out I had landed the part, we caught up for a wine and traded notes on certain storylines versus their own personal experiences – art imitating life! In terms of Tahlia, there were a handful of her traits there that I related to within my own life, but obviously in a way more heightened, dramatic sense!
What “WAG” stereotype would you like to dispel here and now?
I think people are quick to judge these women, or make an assumption that they truly know who they are purely off the public persona they present. The truth is that there is so much more to these women than meets the eye, and that is what this show is all about. Showcasing them, celebrating their power, success and independence beyond their partners, and giving them the credit they deserve.
Did you have any input into your character Tahlia’s look?
Michael Chisolm, our Costume Designer, is a genius. I was in complete awe within the first 20 minutes of working with him. He deserves a lot of credit for the role he played in creating [the] look and feel of Tahlia. We definitely worked together in terms of choosing pieces that accentuated my figure in ways I felt the most comfortable, but the creative vision is all him.
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If you could keep one item from her wardrobe, what would it be and why?
One of my favourite pieces was this incredible black lace overlay, which was a neck and arm piece, which we then layered over a black dress. It was a vintage item that Michael purchased from The Real Real. The dress it was paired with was by Flannel. I loved how the ensemble appeared so effortless, and yet at a closer look, it was actually incredibly intricate and interesting.
You've been busy in LA – can you tell us what you have been up to over there?
Moving to LA was the first time in my life I had lived anywhere other than Melbourne, so a large part of it for me was proving to myself that I could do it. That I could take a chance, be brave and independent and set myself up somewhere away from my support system of family and friends, who are my absolute life line. A lot of my time is spent auditioning or acting classes and dialect lessons. And of course the obligatory daily hike–I mean… have you even moved to LA if you aren’t at Runyon [Canyon] every day with a green juice in your hands?
Have you had any star-struck moments?
I saw Zendaya at Soho House one night and she quite honestly took my breath away. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful human in real life.
What is the first thing you like to do when you come home to Australia?
Meet up with and squeeze all my favourite people! The last time I arrived home, I met up with a girlfriend and we went on our favourite walk around the botanical gardens in Melbourne. Post 5.00pm, a couple of margaritas and a delicious meal with my friends around Mum’s kitchen bench always brings me back to reality and helps me to feel like I never even left.
What is the last item you splurged on for yourself?
A little black Prada shoulder bag. It was my first week in LA, and I knew it was such a ridiculous splurge, but now every time I look down at it, it symbolises a fresh chapter for me.
Playing For Keeps is on Network Ten now