All Saints: articles


She's So Beautiful!

All Saints star Conrad Coleby proudly shows off his stunning sister Anja—and when you see and old TV WEEK photograph of their mum and dad, you'll realise that gorgeous looks run in the family!

Their father is one time Aussie TV sex symbol Robert Coleby and their mother is a former model, so it's easy to see where All Saints star Conrad Coleby and his sister Anja get their looks and talent from.

At 30, Anja is eight years older than her brother and oozes glamour. Conrad, of course, has won an army of fans as ambulance officer Scott Zinenko on Ward 17 and been nominated in the category of Most Popular New Male Talent at the upcoming TV WEEK Logie Awards.

And now they're acting together! In this week's episode of All Saints, Anja appears alongside Conrad as a model who has been badly beaten by her boyfriend.

"I'm not even recognisable!" laughs Anja, whose credits include roles in Breakers, Flipper, The Lost World, Beastmaster and the 1996 film Dating the Enemy.

"I have a prosthetic cheek all blown out, bruising down my neck and a wired jaw with gauze up my nose. I couldn't walk past people on the set without them squealing, "Oh no, go away!"

Conrad puts his hand on his heart and swears that he has had nothing to do with the casting for the show, but it was only a few months ago that his dad popped up as Professor Richard Craig, the grouchy father of Ward 17 nurse Bronwyn Craig (Libby Tanner).

To be fair, Anja has been up for a role in All Saints before—only for her chances to be completely scuppered by her family connections.

"I was all set to audition for the part… and then they realised that Conrad's character and my character had to kiss each other!" she says.

The siblings are extremely close and, together with Conrad's girlfriend, share a house in a beautiful beach side Sydney suburb.

"It's great, because you can be yourself and say what you think if something goes wrong in the house," Anja says. "You're always at ease with each other… but we still get brother and sister fights happening!"

The intimacy and fights have been part of Conrad and Anja's lives since their childhood growing up in Sydney with Robert and their Swedish mum Lena. Despite the eight year age difference, they were very much their own unit as kids.

"Anja and I used to have a game where we would pass messages under the door to each other," Conrad recalls. "It usually happened after an argument and Anja had shut herself in her room.

"I'd apologise and write a letter, and then she'd start talking to me again!"

"One time I didn't send a message back, and Conrad got so angry that he ran at the door and punched his whole fist through the glass!" adds Anja, poking her brother in the ribs.

Another family game involved dressing up baby Conrad as a girl!

"I used to dress him up as Sally and treat him like a little sister!" Anja laughs.

"I have photos of it and I do sort of remember it," Conrad says. "I used to get right into the role, too. Mum and Anja would dress me like a girl to make me shut up and behave. Whenever they dressed me that way, I'd start behaving like a girl… at the age of three, I had the idea in my head that girls behaved themselves. I don't think my grandfather liked it too much!"

Looking back, Conrad is sure this is when he started acting.

"I used to like sticking exactly to the role, so I think acting was a natural progression," he says.

Anja also shone in the limelight as a child. At the age of four, she began modelling with her mum in a series of mother and daughter shoots.

Her decision to pursue acting was a lifestyle choice. It was influenced by seeing her father at work in such hit series as The Young Doctors, Chopper Squad and Patrol Boat.

"I love that you don't have to stand in a bus queue at 8:30am and be at work at the same time of day, and see the same walls around you and know that you're going to be home at five o'clock," she explains of her career choice.

"You don't know what to expect the next day, and that makes acting exciting. It's the only job I can do for 13 hours one day and two hours the next."

Conrad lucked out in his career as an actor, winning the role of Scott Zinenko in All Saints just eight months after graduating from drama school.

Anja admits she's still hanging out for her breakthrough role. After appearing on the film The Year My Voice Broke at 14, she studied journalism at university and then headed off to Los Angeles to try to break into movies.

"I enrolled in drama classes over there, and worked as every actress does as a waitress in a sleazy restaurant," she says.

"LA is not an easy city to be broke in and alone, and I also missed my family a lot."

Ironically, Anja returned home for a week's holiday in the mid 1990's and got a part in the TV series Flipper, which was a US production filmed in Australia.

"It was quite bizarre, playing an American in Queensland," she says.

Since the demise of Flipper, and in between those guest roles, Anja has set up a videography business which shoots private weddings and edits the film into a finished package.

"I'm really enjoying the business," she says. "I'm halfway through a science degree as well, so eventually I'd like to film science documentaries."

As for Conrad, he's keen to follow in his sisters footsteps and travel.

"I'd love to do the whole go-to-Europe-for-a-year-thing and get some life experience," he says.

Whatever happens, the siblings will always return to their parents home in Queensland for their wacky and untraditional family Christmases with Mum and Dad.

"We don't dress up like normal families do," Anja explains.

"Last year, Mum was wearing a cowboy hat, a shirt and a swimming costume. That was it, because it was so hot. And Dad was walking around with his shirt off and a pair of jeans.

"We were playing Pictionary and eating Swedish meatballs and drinking and singing songs. We really do have bizarre family Christmases…"

By Juliet Rieden
week of April 20, 2002
TV Week