All Saints: articles

Saint is making waves

JENNI WHO? Australian actress Jenni Baird may be an unknown here but she's making waves on British TV in backpacker drama Crash Palace - and came agonisingly close to scoring a big gig in the US for Disney.

Next week, Jenni - the daughter of a Sydney pathologist - makes her debut on Channel 7 nursing drama All Saints.

The 25-year-old, who plays single mother Paula Morgan, a no-nonsense "super nurse", could well become TV's next "IT" girl. "Ah, well, you know," she laughs. "The thing about Paula is she's really no bulls..t.

"She's willing to forgo romance in place of putting her son first and she's accepted that really. So if someone comes along, they're going to have to try really hard."

Jenni makes a brief debut in a dramatic storyline in which the hospital rapist strikes again - leaving a nurse dead and kidnapping Bron (Libby Tanner).

For Baird, her latest role has made a TV convert of her father, who thinks the show is medically accurate.

"He's not a huge TV fan but ever since he found out about it, he's been watching it (All Saints) and he gets really involved in all the issues and stuff because it hits so close to home," Baird says.

"Dad, before he became a specialist, worked in Westmead Hospital in Sydney for quite a long time, so the hospital scene is very familiar to him."

Baird completed a communications degree at Sydney's University of Technology, before heading to Perth to study at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).

She graduated in November and was tagged "Most Promising Actor". She also was handpicked from thousands of girls worldwide by Disney for a US pilot for a proposed drama series called Metropolis in February.

The show was set around six friends, including Baird and Keith Carradine, and the dramas they encounter in life after college. Unfortunately, it has yet to be picked up by an American network.

"I can credit it to Guy Pearce," says Baird of her American experience. "One of the directors of the pilot went to a film festival and watched Guy Pearce in Memento and he was like 'I think Australian actors are great'.

"I was very sad when Metropolis didn't go. My agent here in Australia is currently making inroads for me because of that."

However, she is also making a splash in Britain in the Foxtel series Crash Palace (65 episodes were filmed at Sydney's Fox Studios). The Australian-produced drama - about a group of young travellers living together in a Sydney hostel - made its British debut earlier this month on Britain's BSkyB's Sky One channel and came first in its timeslot.

The series - described in Britain as "risk-taking" - co-stars Tory Mussett, Jess Gower (the girl who mistakes Glenn Wheatley for Paul Hogan in the Telstra ads), Dieter Brummer and Kristy Wright and will air on the FOX8 channel in Australia early next year. Another actor making "inroads" is Jenni's boyfriend, Jonathan Turner, a Europe-trained Australian actor.

"He's been in a couple of BackBerner episodes," says Baird.

• All Saints screens on Channel 7 at 8.30pm on Tuesdays.

October 31, 2001
The Advertiser