All Saints: profiles

Kirrily White…

Kirrily believes nursing can be a very thankless job. "It is worth making heroes out of the people who do it," she says.

"I think All Saints has some important things to say about what is involved in healing people."

Kirrily prepared for the role by talking to friends who work in the health professions.

Over the past year she has continued to learn more about the profession by talking to the on-set medical advisors, reading about the medical conditions and procedures involved in the storylines and from the feedback from nurses.

Kirrily was born and raised in Sydney. She studied classical ballet, piano and drama.

She was involved in school plays and concerts, and even at primary school she would write, direct and perform in plays and sketches.

Kirrily loved going to see pantomimes and plays and at that stage did have aspirations to an acting career.

As a teenager she continued to be involved in extra-curricular plays. When she was 14 she was involved in a youth opera production at the Sydney Opera House. The group of about 70 teenagers wrote and performed Winds of the Solstice.

By the end of high school, she was still interested in acting but was also considering several other career options.

She enrolled in an Arts degree at The University of Sydney and studied English, Linguistics, Philosophy and Australian Literature, although the first thing she really focused on at uni was a play with the drama society.

In 1993, she did The Journey course at the Actor's Centre and then auditioned and was accepted for the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts.

Kirrily was excited to head over to Perth in 1994 and make the commitment to study acting. The course and the friends she made there were the focus of her life for the next three years.

Kirrily graduated in late 1996. Before Christmas she was booked for a television commercial and the 1997 Sydney Theatre Company production Mongrels.

Throughout 1997, Kirrily continued to audition and got work in commercials and guest roles in Murder Call and Children's Hospital. Late last year, she appeared in the Sydney Theatre Company's Private Lives at the same time as starting to shoot All Saints.

Kirrily says it has been exciting to be developing a new character in an entirely new series.

She sees Stephanie as a highly competent nurse who has been finding the limitations of nursing increasingly frustrating.

"She has a vocation healing people," she says. "Stephanie combines compassion with intelligence. But she has been caught between her career and the possibility of starting a family, which is something a lot of women can identify with."

…as Stephanie Markham

Team Leader and second-in-charge to Terri, Stephanie is an immensely competent nurse.

She is sharp, intelligent and good at leading by example if not by motivating. Stephanie asked for a nurse's outfit for her seventh birthday. It is what she has always wanted to be. She pursued her ambition in a straight line, took the right subjects at school, took a nursing degree in college and came to All Saints Hospital as soon as she graduated. She chose to work in the General Ward because she liked the variety of experience it offered and it enabled her to keep her options open.

But, still, she became restless. The job was not providing the same satisfaction she thought it would. She has become increasingly prickly and frustrated with some of the doctors because she wants to tell them she is as competent as they are.

Stephanie decided she wanted to go back to study and become a doctor herself and this put an immense strain on her marriage to her childhood sweetheart Ben, a paramedic. Her career crisis came at a time when Ben was putting enormous pressure on her to start a family.

An unplanned pregnancy was joyous news for Ben, and Steph thought she could cope with what fate dealt but an early miscarriage was a great, yet shameful, relief for her. Ben and Steph's different reactions to the miscarriage as well as his own career crisis (post-traumatic shock disorder) put a strain on the marriage and seemed to propel Steph towards her friend Luke. But Ben is still the man she loves.

Apart from wanting to further her career, Stephanie's reluctance to start a family stems from her less than ideal childhood. Her father left her mother for a much younger woman when Stephanie was a young girl, leaving her mother devastated and Stephanie and her brother heartbroken . As a protective mechanism to stop herself falling into the same traps as her mother, Stephanie is cautious about most things in life and imposes incredibly high standards on herself.

She is not necessarily judgemental of choices other people make, but she sometimes comes across as taking the high moral ground. The reality is that her attitudes reflect her own discomfort at risk-taking.