Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Zoe Naylor

Keeping busy ... Zoe Naylor

A new McLeod

ZOE Naylor is a jack of all trades.

Google her name on the internet and sites pop up displaying her talents, from newsreader to television host and model to actress.

The stunning brunette has done them all and is about to launch herself at popular Australian drama McLeod's Daughters.

But before she begins, the down-to-earth Sydney girl admits her dream as a teenager was to be the next Jana Wendt.

She craved learning about world affairs and becoming a hard-hitting, straight-talking news reporter like Wendt.

"That was me and that is who I wanted to be," says the 28-year-old quite seriously.

"I was heading down the hardcore news journalism path. When I was 17 I would work my holidays at the newsroom. "But, I was just that bit young and didn't know if it was what I wanted to do."

On completion of her Higher School Certificate, Naylor began her journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst.

However, her road to reporting took a turn when she discovered the world of modelling showering her with fast cash.

She quickly turned her focus to that.

"It was fun, the catering was great and I was young so the cash kept me going," she quips.

"As I was doing modelling it lead to some commercials and from there that led to small roles in television series."

As well as modelling and going back to her journalism studies the leggy model scored other jobs.

These included hosting youth skateboarding program Ra, lifestyle show Escape with ET, as well as working on various productions on MTV, plus dabbling in radio presenting.

But now Naylor is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of journalism and presenting, preferring to live life on horseback at Drovers Run and sink her teeth into the role of Regan McLeod, who is a tough cookie.

The cousin of Tess (Bridie Carter), viewers were first given a taste of Regan last year when she stirred up trouble and had a fling with resident vet Dave Brewer.

Naylor says Regan has a chip on her shoulder, comes from a broken home and a harrowing experience eventually brings her back to the farm.

A city girl, Regan finds solace in the Adelaide hills and begins to enjoy getting her hands dirty.

Naylor says playing Regan is a joy, but that acting is still an uphill battle for her as opposed to her other jobs.

"It is a huge challenge for me at the moment," she says of her role on the Channel Nine show.

"Hosting and presenting I find easy, but when you act you are not yourself.

"The notion of acting is bizarre. You are saying someone elses lines, in a made-up situation that isn't real and you have action and cut in between. I find that difficult at times."

The rising star also admits that the decision to take on a television series role was a tough one.

A few years ago, Naylor was offered a role on Seven hospital drama All Saints and gladly accepted.

But in a case of last minute doubt, Naylor let the job pass her by.

"I had just come out of drama school and that all happened too quickly for me and (it) felt wrong," she says.

"I didn't feel comfortable being locked into something for three years.

"Signing onto series television is a big commitment when you haven't done it before.

"But having had a taste of McLeod's last year I became open to things and I am excited to be a part of it."

With her athletic build and sun-kissed skin, Naylor is a perfect fit for McLeod's Daughters.

As she canters across the dry South Australia earth on her trusty steed, any nerves she possesses aren't evident to the bystander.

Naylor seems at ease with her new role and the animals that come with working on a farm, but that's thanks to a family secret.

"My dad is a vet," she says.

"So that could be the connection! It's funny because the romance on the show was with the vet.

"We grew up having riding lessons as kids. But believe me, you think you can ride and then you meet the wranglers and you quickly learn you can't!"

Demands on McLeod's are high and the eldest of three siblings knows that time out to see her stockbroking boyfriend, who lives in their Sydney home, is going to be hard.

However, the couple plan to travel between Sydney and Adelaide to see each other.

"There will be a lot of frequent-flyer miles," she says.

"I am 28 and I want to have a family and all that and not be away from my partner all the time. The decision to do this show was made by both of us.

"Relationships thrive when you are together - you have to be together emotionally, personally and physically to make it work - so we will."

The other strain is the love scenes that Naylor will be involved in on the show.

"On-screen romances aren't easy for anyone to watch," she says.

"It's hard for him (my boyfriend) to understand that I can do a love scene and then switch off. I can tell him until I am blue in the face that it means nothing but he said no matter what he will never see a good side to it."

All this said and done, Naylor says working on McLeod's has so far been a dream and she can't wait for it to go to air when the ratings season begins in February.

"I have loved every minute of it," she says.

"I have had a bit of backlash on the website from fans about my character returning. They don't seem to want her there, but hopefully I can turn them around."

By Erin McWhirter
January 19, 2006