Mcleod's Daughters: articles

McLeod's Alexy a far cry from character

Actress Gillian Alexy has studied her craft on three continents, speaks fluent French, plays guitar and has trained in both classical and contemporary dance.

It's hardly the ultimate grounding for someone who will soon be best known to Australian TV audiences as a cattle-wrangling wild child on McLeod's Daughters.

Alexy, 23, entered the outback drama as Tayler Geddes during last year's series finale.

She arrived at Drovers Run to exact revenge on Regan McLeod (Zoe Naylor) who she blamed for her father's death in a mine accident.

One of only two remaining McLeods on the farm, tenuously linked by the show's writers to the family bloodline through Jack McLeod's estranged brother, Regan will come to regret her decision during this season.

Tayler is a handful from the outset.

In the series return, she'll steal money from the farm's shearing shed and nicks off with Stevie's (Simmone Jade MacKinnon) ute.

"Yeah, you could say I'm different to that," Alexy says. "But you always find common ground with the characters you play.

"Most people can relate to being an angry teenager and having the same sort of frustrations as Tayler."

The daughter of two dancers, Alexy spent her childhood hanging around the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts (WAAPA) campus and her acting, dancing and musical talents were nurtured.

A love of horses was also encouraged for a couple of years, when Alexy's mother would drive her to outer Perth for riding camps.

Little did she know it would come in handy on a TV set years later.

"I hadn't been on a horse for something like 13 or 14 years, so had a lot to learn when I got on set, but having the general idea was an advantage," she says.

Tayler is a tearaway who grew up in tough mining camps after her father lost the family farm.

Rough and witty, she is likely to spice-up a McLeod's set undergoing a period of dramatic change with new characters Marcus (Matt Passmore) and Grace (Abi Tucker) also to be introduced.

"Even though my experiences haven't been anywhere near as dramatic as Tayler's, you draw on other things to make those moments truthful," she says.

"They don't even have to be about yourself."

"She's a very independent kind of wild child ... I think I'm an extremely independent person."

After graduating from a specialist arts school in 2000 and a brief period working for a children's theatre group in Perth, Alexy moved to Sydney before strapping on a backpack.

She studied at The Actors Centre in London, and in Paris at Le Centre de les Arts Vivants and Peter Goss Dance Studio.

When she went to live with her father in the United States to study at University of Colorado she worked for $2.13 an hour in a steak house and $4 an hour in retail to pay tuition.

"That made me realise how important study is, especially in that country," she says.

"Without qualifications you just get the s***test jobs and the worst pay."

"While I was doing that I always had in the back of my mind, 'How long can I justify working in a job that doesn't satisfy me?"

Not long, was the answer.

"It's a tricky industry," she says of film, theatre and television.

"You go to New York or LA and every waiter wants to be a writer, director or actor.

"But there's a common thread, everybody wants to do it because they love it."

Well aware of the tough competition she faces as an actress in an industry when supply far outweighs demand, Alexy is ecstatic to have a full time job.

"Home and Away or Neighbours would probably have more security than McLeod's," she says.

"You know, Blue Heelers was going for ages then all of a sudden, gone.

"There isn't much work out there, but you still have to pick and choose what you want to do. You have to try and structure your career the way you want it to go.

"(McLeod's) is a great opportunity for me."

February 01, 2007