TV pick: Winners and Losers
Melanie Vallejo finds that aspects of her Winners and Losers character, Sophie Wong, often spill into real life. Vallejo frequently hangs out with her three main co-stars after the cameras stop rolling but sometimes that line between fact and fiction remains blurred.
"It's funny, we do tend to take on the same dynamic, especially when the four of us hang out. I guess that happens with friendships because we play those characters with each other so often that when we find ourselves going out for coffee all together, which we often do, we do tend to fall into those roles."
Winners and Losers follows Sophie, Frances (Virginia Gay), Bec (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith) and Jenny (Melissa Bergland), high school friends who bonded over being the target of school bully Tiffany Turner. But their luck changed when they split a Lotto win and became millionaires.
After firmly establishing their friendships and characters, season two sees a big shake-up with the friends taking on serious responsibilities and focusing on the future rather than dwelling on their pasts.
"I think in season one we are still working out who we are based on - the people that we were - and season two is about who do we want to be," Vallejo says down the phone from her air-conditioned car in Melbourne. "And I think all the girls are turning 30ish and I think it's that second stage of life thing."
Sophie is grappling with her blossoming relationship with Doug and the blow that he's the father of Bec's baby. "I think when we first met Sophie in season one she was a bit of a whirlwind and I think by season two she's grown up a little bit," says Vallejo.
Before Winners and Losers, Vallejo starred in Australian horror films, The Sculptor and Dying Breed, and enjoyed a scattering of theatre and television credits, including the New Zealand-based Power Rangers: Mystic Force.
"I really loved it and I loved working in New Zealand," Vallejo says of her time on the action series. "I met some of my best mates that I lived in Sydney with." She also married a Kiwi, Matt Kingston, and the pair spent time in New Zealand over Christmas.
Vallejo's blue Power Ranger, Madison, known as the "shy one", is a far cry from Sophie . "[Sophie] speaks her mind, which I think is wonderful, and she is courageous and gutsy and all those things which I don't think I am in real life," says Vallejo.
The actress is relishing being part of Winners and Losers and contributing to the increasing list of shows with strong female leads, like Girls and New Girl.
"All of my female friends are incredibly funny and intelligent and witty and interesting and some of them are weird-looking, and I feel like now all of those people are kind of the stars of shows which is great.
"Girls are funny! And they are silly and, you know, there're fart jokes . . . and I just think it's so refreshing and more of it should be on telly."
Winners and Losers Wednesday, 8.30pm, TV One
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