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Belinda Goes Country

Entertainers these days have to be multi-skilled. With all-rounders such as Madonna and Jennifer Lopez setting the pace, it's not enough just to be talented in one area. Real stars must be able to do everything—television, music, dancing, film—and whatever else comes up.

Quintessential all-Australian girl-next-door Belinda Emmett has taken up the challenge. So far, she's appeared in a number of Australian television series and has made no secret of her desire to forge a successful music career. But, for the moment, she's moved on—all the way to Mudgee. She's there till mid-October working on her very first feature film, Bill Bennett's The Nugget, also starring Eric Bana and Stephen Curry.

"It's a comedy and I play the role of Cheryl," says Belinda down the line from the town in New South Wales' wine country. "The film's not out till next year. I'm learning on the hop, but it's been a really good experience so far."

Currently, Belinda's back on the small screen playing Jodi Horner, the wild-child receptionist of All Saints. Months after Jodi made a quick exit having broken Connor's heart, she was rediscovered table-dancing to make ends meet. She was duly convinced to return to the hospital.

"I nearly had a heart attack when I read the script!" says Belinda of her character's career change. "It was a bit out of left-field, but I think it was handled in a good way: the way the scene was filmed it was blink and you miss it. And nobody seems to have really noticed it."

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Belinda says she admires her character's ability to just say what she thinks.

"I really like Jodi, she's really cool. She's the sort of person everybody wants to be at some stage, and she says the things that people want to say but no one's game. She's a good fun character to play because she's just so wrong. She just doesn't think things through."

Belinda, originally from Umina on the Central Coast north of Sydney, has been based in the city since her Hey Dad! days, but there have been rumours of a planned move down south to Melbourne.

"Yeah, I am trying to move down next year—I do feel more at home in Melbourne than in Sydney—I feel it suits my personality a bit more. It's a nice place, a bit more relaxed than Sydney is," she confirms.

As someone who cut her teeth singing in a jazz band before striking the big time, Belinda has never concealed her desire to sing. She's spent whatever time she could manage over the past year putting together a demo tape and working on the sort of sound she likes, which she describes as "Brit-poppish" guitar-orientated pop.

"I've got a demo together, I'm now trying to get a bit of a vibe together and hopefully it won't be too long before I can get it out there," she says. "I haven't shopped it around [to record companies] as yet, but I've reached a stage where I'm happy with it."

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But a glance at her schedule for the next few months shows that it doesn't look like she'll have time in the near future. Filming on The Nugget doesn't wrap up till mid-October, then it's back to the All Saints set, where it's likely she'll remain till well into next year. And at this stage she says she's happy learning whatever she can take in during her new experiences.

"Film is different in that they ask a lot more of you. You have to go to that deeper level. You're telling a story that will be there on celluloid forever, so you have to understand the character a lot more," she says.

And what words of wisdom does she have for any aspiring all-round entertainers?

"It's a fickle industry, be prepared for the unexpected and don't take it too seriously!" she laughs. "Seriously, though, realise it's an unpredictable industry—anything can happen when you least expect it to. But it can be fun if you remember to take it all with a grain of salt and not get too caught up in it all."

Catch Belinda Emmett in All Saints, Tuesdays 8.30pm AEST.