The Perfect Blend: A Conversation with April Rose Pengilly aka Chloe Brennan on Neighbours
April Rose Pengilly is an Australian actress and former model, best known for roles in LBF (2011), Object (2013) and Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door (2015). She was a contestant on the Australian version of Dancing With The Stars (2014) and her personal style blog has been nominated for three Pedestrian.tv Blogster Awards.
Making a name for herself on the long running ever popular soap, The Fan Carpet’s Marc Jason Ali had the pleasure of speaking to April Rose Pengilly who is becoming a firm favourite on the show.
We talk about how it felt for her to get the call to join Neighbours, her original reaction to the illness storyline and getting closer to Elly Conway…
Did you have a defining moment to get into acting?
Well I actually began modelling while I was in high school, finished high school and then went into modelling full time and, you know, got to go all over the world working in modelling and then I got a part in a feature film just sort of through a friend and I had always wanted to act and I did a lot of musicals and plays in high school and yeah sort of decided to make the switch then given that I had that opportunity. But yeah I’m not sure about a defining moment, maybe in high school doing musicals (laughs).
Okay brilliant. So when you first got the call to join Neighbours how did it feel?
You know to be totally honest it was quite an overwhelming moment because I actually set my sights on the US and had been planning to go there for a long time but it’s quite difficult for us to get US Visa’s and all of that business and then one thing or another, I basically tried to get there for six years and I was three weeks away from going, I just got my Visa and everything, and about with three weeks left to go, the call about Neighbours came (laughs) and I was like “No, there’s no way. I’m about to finally leave and Neighbours shoot in a different city” because I live out in Sydney for the main “happening” places in Australia and the show films down in Melbourne where I don’t really know anyone, so it was quite difficult, obviously it was a great opportunity so I couldn’t really pass it up, now that US Visa is just sitting there collecting dust (laughs).
Right so that came through as well (laughs) okay. When you did join the cast as Chloe, what was the reception like from the rest of the cast?
Yeah everyone was really lovely when I went in… obviously I had done a lot of work here, you know, a lot of guest roles in feature films and short films and things like that and made a name for myself through modelling and then through acting roles later, but I knew that this show is decades old and airs all over the World and is such a big thing and it’s very unique in the way that it works and the way that the actors have to work on it, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t go in with any preconceptions, I just didn’t want anyone to think that I was all about myself or, you know, thought I was above it or anything, so I made sure to come in with a good open attitude, willing to learn about the way that they do things on the show and sort of having no airs of anything like that (laughs).
I understood that I was new to that World of this specific show and everyone was really lovely and welcoming and showed me around, I was actually joking the other day that Matt who plays my brother Aaron he gave me a tour during my first week and everything he showed off was absolutely great, and I’ve never used anything or been to any of the areas he showed me on the tour, he didn’t show me where any of the sets where or the studios, he took me to the far reaches of the property where the studios are, where I’ve never been to again and he took me up into the top rooms of the big prop warehouse where I think a few little creatures might live up there, yeah it was just so funny (laughs) this very silly tour that was just so useless but it was great to spend some time with him and he was so lovely and helped me to adjust to the show.
Great. So following on from that, from your time on the show are there any moments that stand out for you?
Oh that’s a good question. Really just generally having a laugh with Matt and Scott, who play Aaron and Mark, I’ve said before that filming the scenes in the Brennan house, those are always the best days, you know, it’s always full on back to back scenes one after the other changing costumes and running back, because we have a lot of scenes together but it’s always so much fun and we get to have these really funny exchanges and really develop that sibling relationship. So yeah just those times stand out as some of the most fun, obviously it’s all getting a bit dark now with the Huntington’s diagnosis and all these kind of things but every now and then I get to have a fun one with my brothers (laughs).
Yeah that’s actually my next question, what was your original reaction to the illness storyline?
Yeah I was quite surprised that they wanted that from me, they didn’t want to tell me, I had been working on the show for a while but yeah it was interesting and that stuff is always challenging to shoot and can be quite emotionally draining but it is really good to stretch yourself in that way, but personally I do prefer comedy it’s definitely the area I want to work in which is one of the reasons why I was heading to The States because there is a lot more comedy produced there than here in Australia, so I really relish the opportunity to get to do all that comic lighter scenes on the show because I didn’t know that I would have that, so I was a little bummed out that I didn’t get to do many of those light scenes (laughs) when all the Huntington’s came about but yeah at the same time as I said it’s really good to stretch yourself in a different direction and to also bring light to an illness that a lot of people haven’t heard of and don’t know anything about, I’d never heard of it in my life and many people have said the same thing, but at the same time I’ve had quite a few people get in contact and say it is in their family and they’re so grateful we’re informing people about it and bringing it to light.
Right okay. Did you have to do much research when you found out you would be getting this?
Yeah I definitely read up on it and it really is an awful illness, it’s kind of similar to Motor Neurone or Alzheimer’s, a kind of degenerative disease that’s really just awful and awful for the person suffering and also for their friends and family to kind of see the person you know and love deteriorate before your eyes.
SO I just hope that some good comes of this, more people know about it and more people donate to research and we get one step closer to curing things like this or even that people feel less alone seeing something that they’ve dealt with in their own lives depicted on television, hopefully accurately and with sensitivity.
Great. On a lighter note you’re getting close to Elly during the whole Grayson storyline, how’s that been for you?
Yeah really fun, I actually sort of knew Jodie who plays Elly before starting on the show, I also knew Takaya who plays David so it’s good to have some friends there when I came in, so it’s been really great.
The people you have the most scenes with you end up becoming quite close to because there is so much downtime between takes and, you know, you’re sort of meant to spend time together and it has brought us a lot closer. Yeah it has been really lovely, she’s great to work with, she’s a wonderful actress and yeah we’ve been having a lot of fun.
Okay great. Well I’ll leave it there, it’s been a pleasure to speak to you and I wish you all the success coming to you.
You too. Thank you have a good day.
NEIGHBOURS AIRS ON CHANNEL 5 AT 13:45PM AND 17:30PM DAILY AND CATCH UP ON MY5