Home and Away star's scandalous role
Playing a femme fatale while several months pregnant is no mean feat but Summer Bay newcomer Erika Heynatz has no worries about it.
"It's actually been great," says the 39 year old who is nearly six months' pregnant with her first child with her partner of eight years, Andrew Kingston.
"Those early morning starts in winter felt a little bit tougher but, in general, I much prefer to be working and busy."
She does, however, admit to stashing snacks all around the set to cater for her "insatiable" appetite.
And as her Home And Away character, Summer Bay High teacher Charlotte King, is not pregnant, Heynatz expects the writers are looking for creative ways to hide her growing baby bump.
"I'm happy for some oversized handbags to work with," Heynatz says, laughing.
While she is relishing her first big television role, Heynatz is no stranger to audiences across the Tasman.
The one-time Australia's Next Top Model presenter started out as a model, scored a recording contract with EMI and put out an album in 2010, tried her hand at movies and also built a successful stage career, starring in the musicals Legally Blonde and The Rocky Horror Show.
The chance to play Charlotte, the woman currently turning things upside down in Summer Bay, is her first ongoing television role.
"It's something I've always wanted to do and it's proving to be a great new challenge," Heynatz says.
"When I read the character breakdown of the role of Charlotte, I was immediately drawn to her resilience, her instincts and her duplicitous nature. It's such fun to play a woman with so many secrets. Scandalous!"
And scandal there is aplenty. Charlotte made her Summer Bay debut when she hooked up with Matt (Alec Snow), little suspecting he would turn out to be one of her students.
"Talk about kicking off with a bang. It was quite the entrance into Summer Bay," she says, adding the liaison was almost as weird for her as it was for Charlotte.
"On set, the circumstances didn't really allow for much of a chance for Alec Snow and I to get to know one another. It was more of a 'hi' and a handshake in the makeup truck and straight into the action on camera.
"Mind you, that probably works well anyway. It's best not to be familiar with someone when it's supposed to be a sexy chance meeting, inherent with all its awkward moments."
However, that chance meeting turned into a relationship that would – if ever discovered – land the teacher in hot water.
"There's a genuine and lasting connection that develops between Charlotte and Matt, but the reality is that the relationship is a dangerous one for obvious reasons," Heynatz says.
Charlotte has since moved on to Andy Barrett (Tai Hara) – who is closer to her own age – but that relationship too is fraught with problems as the teacher reveals another huge secret...
She has a son, Hunter (Scott Lee) – and his father is Zac (Charlie Clausen), the fiance of Summer Bay stalwart Leah (Ada Nicodemou).
Troubled teen Hunter has been unmasked – to viewers at least – as the mysterious stalker who has been watching Leah and Zac – and the real culprit behind the arson attack on their home.
And just like Charlotte, Heynatz has a history with Charlie.
"He produced my music video Bullet so I was so thrilled to see a familiar face on the first day. He was super helpful and gave me the inside scoop," she says, adding while she grew up watching the show, she had lost touch with it while touring with the musicals.
"It's great to get reacquainted with the show and the role has been a constant source of joy with its juicy storyline – and there's so much more in store."
Home And Away, TV2, Weeknights
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- TV Guide