A CAREER change has lead a central Victorian actor to one of Australia's long-running soap operas.
Francine McAsey will feature in Neighbours on Friday night as the celebrant in charge of in a dramatic wedding day.
It is the one of the first of many steps the 52-year-old hopes to take along a new career path.
Born in Rochester, McAsey used to do extra work in films and television to support herself through university.
She then took a job in Canberra and worked in the ACT for 18 years.
When McAsey moved back to regional Victoria three years ago, she took the chance to begin pursuing what she loved - acting.
"I was on holiday in Las Vegas and had a bit of an epiphany," she said. "So I bought a heap acting books, flew back to Australia and started pursuing it.
"It was a combination of having worked a long time and asking myself 'what's something I really love?' I just recalled from my time in university, I loved being on (film) sets.
"Part of it for me was also that (when I was younger) I wasn't in a financial position to do it, because it is so high risk. Now I'm more financially stable, so it's quite a nice hobby and if develops into something else, that would be nice."
McAsey couldn't give away much of the episode she features in on Friday night.
"I'm a marriage celebrant, so I am overseeing a wedding," she said. "The headline in TV Week said 'horror wedding', that's all can say about it.
"It was filmed in August and was really well set up. Working during COVID meant we arrived at the studio and sat in our car to be temperature checked and questions.
"Everything was adhered to and everyone on set was really vigilant in ensuring everyone knew the arrangements. It was extraordinary how well run it was."
The role came to McAsey when Neighbours producers put out a call for people who could play a marriage celebrant.
"If they are looking for a particular role, they send out to agents," she said. "So they sent a brief out and my agent sent me back.
"At the moment because of COVID, they send you a scene and you film it at home and send it back in."
To get involved in the world of film and television, McAsey said aspiring performers should be constantly learning.
"If you're interested in film and TV, get agent and get extra work," she said. "See how a set operates, see if you can handle sitting around (waiting) and observe everything going on.
"You have to constantly train. You can't just do a course and be done. You need to continue to grow and develop. It's quite different to theatre training. The camera picks up subtle differences, so get a tripod for a phone, a little bluetooth remote that works with your phone and practice recording scenes. There are stacks of scripts available.
"With the technology we have got, it costs nothing to film yourself and have mate read (scripts) with you. If you really love it, get in and give it a go."
This year has been busy for McAsey. She is writing her own show and performed in The Dry, an adaptation of Jane Harper's novel produced by Reese Witherspoon, filmed in the Wimmera and starring Eric Bana.
"For The Dry, I knew Reese Witherspoon had bought the rights for that and I really wanted to be in it," McAsey said. "About a year out (from filming), I kept watching who was casting or directing and got onto my agent about it.
"It was filmed in Castlemaine, Guildford and western Victoria and utilised local actors. If you really want job, you keep watching those things, do your research and put yourself forward through your agent.
"I am also working on a series at the moment, writing and producing a sizzle reel about it. It is a series set in country Victoria in 1901. I have written about four episodes."
- Neighbours is on 10 Peach from 6.30pm weeknights.