Former Home and Away star Jessica Grace Smith has scooped the coveted role of Cheryl West for the fifth series of award-winning drama Westside.
Fans will find their favourite Westie looks a little different — the storyline has jumped forward three years to 1987 and Cheryl is heavily pregnant.
Smith, originally from Dannevirke, will fill the 80s stilettos most recently worn by Australian actress Ashleigh Cummings who played the young Cheryl for two seasons before pulling out due to other commitments, including her role in upcoming movie The Goldfinch.
Smith, who lives in Australia, faced an intensive audition process to take on the mantle of one of NZ TV’s most iconic characters, first made famous by Robyn Malcolm in Outrageous Fortune.
“I absolutely loved Outrageous Fortune when it was on and I’ve followed Westside avidly from Australia so it’s really exciting to now be part of the show,” Smith tells Spy.
“Cheryl West is such a wicked character. She’s super-tough but has a lot of heart and I’m really looking forward to taking her on. ”
Smith’s path to Cheryl has been varied — she spent almost two years as Denny on Home and Away from 2014-2015 and has tackled movie roles in Sione’s Wedding 2: Unfinished Business, Frozen Moments and The Devil’s Rock.
Her CV also includes guest roles in The Almighty Johnsons, Spartacus, and Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries.
Smith’s Cheryl will be a few years on from the wedding when we first see her. She’ll already have toddler twins, Van and Jethro and will be heavily pregnant with a baby girl, who fans of the show will know as Pascalle.
“This series is very much focused on Cheryl and Wolf’s early years as parents and how they cope with domestic life as husband and wife,” says Smith. “Needless to say, living in the same house as Rita is making things tricky.”
Meanwhile, it appears to be babies galore on the set of Westside this season with the recent exciting announcement from leading lady, Antonia Prebble (Rita) and co-star Dan Musgrove (Lefty) that they are expecting their own bundle of joy later in 2019. This comes hot on the heels of the arrival of baby Jake, who was born late last year, a new son for actress Esther Stephens (Ngaire) and her husband Todd Beeby.
Westside series 5 will screen later in the year.