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When the lights go down...

We meet the sunny Sharni at the Channel 7 studios in Epping and we are immediately won over with her bright and breezy nature.

The thing you notice about Sharni is her bright smile – her face lights up! Why is it that as Cassie we don’t seem to see that smile so much?

"I know, I don’t get to smile so much recently,” says Sharni. "When I first started on Home and Away, my character Cassie was a mischievous kid and always laughing. I loved that character, but as the character developed, there was a lot of serious stuff happening."

"I think when the directors see that you can cry on cue they keep making dramatic scenes for you!" Sharni laughs. "My grandfather is very disappointed I don’t smile so much on Home and Away as he paid for my braces and would like me to show my teeth more!!"

Sharni’s biological father lives in Canada and she has only met him twice. "I was brought up by my single mother and my grandparents. My grandmother passed away when I was about 14. I’ve lived with my mother and my grandfather all my life."

"My grandfather has been my mentor, raising and supporting me. He’s like a father to me, he’s 75 now. We call him ‘the Wizard’. He still flies planes and helicopters and is always doing adventurous things. He’s taught himself so much. From tinkering around with cars and then to tinkering with planes. He’s taught himself to fly…he recently flew to Japan to pick up a plane and flew it back."

"My grandfather always gave me a good sense of what it means to work. He always inspired me and supported me to go out and do what I wanted myself (which was to be in the performing arts) and not for a second to rely on the fact that my family was wealthy."

"My Nan was a ballerina and my mother was in musicals, so performing is in my blood!I did ballet for 10 years and my teacher wanted to take me to England when I was twelve. But to be a ballerina wasn‘t my real passion. I was a swimmer and would have loved to go to the Olympics more than anything." Sharni says.

"Actually when I was growing up, my grandfather always taught me to be competent and capable so when I learnt to drive at age 17 it had to be a manual car, not an automatic, just so I’d know how to drive both. I could jet-ski at the age of four, and he made sure I got my boat and jet-ski licences as soon as I was old enough. To get my pilot licence is next on the list – and my dream is to fly from Bankstown Airport with my friends for the weekend to our property at Ulladulla – a 40-minute ride!"

Are boyfriends a little intimidated by you? "No!" laughs Sharni. "I think you can always inspire each other in so many little ways. My ex-boyfriend (we’re still very good friends) is a great cook and he taught me a lot about cooking and the presentation of food, etc. I inspired him to get a boat licence and I also inspired him to eat healthily – he had a few bad eating habits, but now he’s really conscious about eating good food."

"My advice to kids who want to act? I’ll suggest what my mum suggested to me. She was in the musical theatre industry and she knew I wanted to be in the performing arts as well, but she always stressed on me to finish schooling to the HSC."

"Even though I was quite smart at school, I was always asking why, why did I have to study to the HSC if I was going into the performing arts. Why? My mum was adamant that I had to finish school and my elementary ballet too, in case I had to teach one day. She always said you’ve got to have a back-up plan in case things don’t work out and to have a skill of some sort."

Sharni says, "You can do acting courses whilst still at school and my advice to kids is to keep going to school while doing your acting as well. I was doing an acting course on the weekends and you can still go for auditions."