Blue Water High: articles

Tahyna Tozzi

Out of the blue

IT's everything Tahyna Tozzi wants to get away from: the image of the party-girl princess born for the red carpet. But that's why she decided to accept the role of Perri Lawe in the new ABC teen drama Blue Water High.

"When I first got offered the role I was like, 'you know what, I don't want to be the token girl like that'," the 19-year-old ex-model, best known for regular appearances in the social pages, said.

"She's a spoilt little rich girl and the introduction to my character is me pashing the boyfriend. But that's just how the other characters are seeing her. In the first couple of episodes she's very much in the eyes of others who think they know who she is and I know a lot of teenage girls live with that. I certainly have.

"So I guess it made me take the stereotype head on and deal with it, and she develops her sense of self throughout the show that was really important to me. You change the way you see her, and she changes the way she sees herself."

Blue Water High is a 26-part weekly series following the lives of a group of teenagers who have made it into an elite, live-in surfing academy on Sydney's northern beaches. It looks like paradise but, in true teen-drama style, the kids have issues to deal with and growing up to do.

While it looks like a beachside soap, it is much richer than that, says one of the series' few grown-ups, Nadine Garner.

"I know people are going to say, 'oh but it's just like Home And Away, it's set on a beach'," Garner, who plays sports psychologist Deb Callum, who helps run the academy, said.

"But it's not a soap. I have to say in all honesty that I hadn't even thought about those soaps in the same mental breath as this. It's very different from that."

Indeed, Garner sees the series much more in the tradition of quality youth drama such as The Henderson Kids in which she starred in as a 14-year-old two decades ago.

"It was 20 years ago to the year that I started off in The Henderson Kids as a child in a children's series. And here I was being an adult in a children's series," she said.

"So for me personally it was a moment of reckoning, of going, 'OK, I've done 20 years in the business and now I'm playing the older roles'. And I kind of enjoyed that insight. "

Being on the fringes of a series instead of at its heart was also a new experience for the award-winning actor.

"It's their series it's about them and their characters. So for us in the adult roles me, Marty Lynes and Liz Burch it was kind of not rivetting work from an actor's point of view. It was very much supporting the storylines of the other cast. And in that respect it was quite hard work, because I'd never done it before it was a different kind of discipline."

For Tozzi, the role of Perri was also a challenge, albeit of a different type: the Cronulla girl had to try to get in touch with her inner Gold Coaster.

"The Gold Coast is very different," she said. "I mean Cronulla is very much like a small surfie fishing town. So I grew up all around the beaches and the sun and the surf, which was sort of the same as the character, but her attitude to it all is very different.

"So I had to really think about how she would be, being from a wealthy background and from that area. I mean when I get in the surf it's just a part of me, whereas for her this is the thing to do because it's cool."

Tozzi and co-star Kahn Chittenden were the only members of the seven-strong lead cast with surf experience, but even they found it difficult to get to the point where they looked like they might be champions on their way to a professional career.

"We did two weeks of intensive training to get us just looking comfortable on the board but we definitely have professional surfers as doubles for the main stuff."

Blue Water High airs Wednesdays on ABC TV at 5.25pm.

By Eleanor Sprawson
May 11, 2005
The Daily Telegraph