March 25, 2012

Brooke Satchwell's star return (VIDEO | 4 PICS)

SHE'S put years of turmoil behind her and is back on TV, but Brooke Satchwell would rather face-off with Mother Nature.

Brooke Satchwell hasn't been asked to do a "sexy face" at a shoot in four years. She's standing barefoot in a simple navy dress, her hair gathered loosely in a bun, her eyes heavily lined and her lips pale. She stops moving for the camera and asks, "Should I be using my arms?" "For what?" the photographer says, deadpan.

A few days later, I'm sitting in a cafe with Satchwell. More at ease in a T-shirt, shorts, thongs and no make-up, she admits that when she started out in the industry 15 years ago, on Neighbours, she was relaxed in photoshoots because she didn't know any better. "As the years progressed, I went downhill and became more rigid and tense. I guess that knocked my self-confidence a bit," she explains.

For our shoot, she eventually nailed her "sexy face" when she was talking about, of all things, her drum kit. "I was distracted. And a great shot is about being in the moment."

The reason for her return to the spotlight is her new role on Packed to the Rafters. She plays Frankie, an electrician who joins the Rafters' family business. After almost three years of steering clear of work in front of the camera, Satchwell couldn't shake the acting bug. "I love what I do and life keeps kicking me back in the ring," she says. "Regardless of how far I wander in various directions, these opportunities keep coming up."

Her last stint on the small screen was in 2008's short-lived drama Canal Road. Towards the end of her 20s, the 31-year-old found herself questioning if acting was right for her. "I've thought about [giving it up] a lot over the years. I started doing it when I was 15, when most people are just deciding what they want to be when they grow up," she says. "I tend to do things in a backwards sequence, which wreaks havoc on my confidence because sometimes I feel I've reached the top of the skyscraper without having laid the foundations.

"There was a period when I honestly wouldn't have paid me to do what I was doing. I have a strong bulls--- detector and I couldn't justify the feedback I was getting."

After finding the courage to walk away from onscreen roles, Satchwell volunteered behind the camera as a "dogsbody" on various productions.

"I love cinematography - it fascinates me," she says. "When we put on Christmas concerts as kids, I was pulling the strings behind-the-scenes and my cousins and sister were dressed up out front; it's ironic this ended up as my day job." Her experience behind the camera shows when she's onset, says Rafters co-star Samantha Tolj, who plays Frankie's best friend, Sian. "You can see it in the way Brooke relates to the cast and crew; she's the furthest thing from a diva.

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