Michala's Romance Fix
TV Week, 8-14 November 2008, pp. 20-21.

A *huge* thanks to Carly for the transcript and scans!

Single in real life, Michala Banas has been happy to play a loved-up nearly wed in Neighbours

Given just four days' notice to replace an ill Kym Valentine for five weeks as Libby Kennedy, Michala Banas found herself facing one of the biggest challenges of her career. And with her first scenes in Neighbours due to hit screens this week, the former McLeod's Daughters star is about to find out how the iconic soap's fans rate her performance. The bubbly actress, who will soon celebrate her 30th birthday, spills the beans on what's on the cards for the newly-engaged Libby, as well as the current status of her own love-life.

You finished filming a few weeks back. Are you looking forward to finally appearing on air?
I'm excited, but I'm also a bit nervous about how everyone's going to react and how the audience is going to find it. Hopefully, people will be able to look past the obvious, which is that it's a completely different person playing the role, and just go with the storyline.

We hear you squeezed in a Neighbours marathon before you started work on the show.
I did! It was like cramming for an exam. I got the scripts and the backstory, and then I got hold of as many Neighbours DVDs as possible. I found myself wading through endless amounts of footage, trying to cram as much into my tiny brain as I could. I was dreaming about Neighbours by the end of it!

What surprised you most when you were watching all the episodes?
I was really focusing on Libby and her story, so I was a bit self-centered in that respect. It was a little bit overwhelming. I was like, "Oh, I didn't realise she'd had an affair with the brother!" A lot happens on a week-to-week basis in Ramsay Street.

Are you sad that your time in Erinsborough has come to an end after just a few weeks?
I really am. The cast and crew were absolutely wonderful to work with and I really had such a great time - I didn't expect to have has much fun as I did. I was a bit disappointed when my time on the show finished because I thought, "There's no way I could come back now!" I think I may have shot myself in the foot a bit with this one. Although there was mention that if I were to cut my hair... well, you never know! Either that, or I'd love to come back one day as Libby's evil twin! And it is Ramsay Street, so anything's possible.

Libby is currently preparing for her wedding to Dan. Any romance in your own life right now?
Oh, no! Poor Brett Tucker - he was the closest thing I've had to romance in a while! It's funny, I go through stages of thinking, "I'd like to have someone in my life," and stages where I think, "You know what? It doesn't bother me." At the moment, because I've been pretty busy and I've been working, I'm in a good place and I'm not worried about it. Someone will come along when they come along. And I'm about to turn 30, which is really exciting.

Have you got a big celebration planned?
There will be a bit of a do - a dinner with close friends and family. And I've invited all my mates out to have a drink, so hopefully some of the Neighbours cast will come along for that, because I got to know them pretty well.

Do you keep up with any of your former McLeod's Daughters castmates?
I'm the only one in Melbourne, but I catch up with Simmone (Jade Mackinnon) from time to time and also Rachael (Carpani). It's one of those funny things - you just chat when you can, on the phone and by email. I think we'll have to have a McLeod's reunion soon!

What's next for you?
After finishing Neighbours, I went to New Zealand to see my family, as most of them are over there. But I've just come back to Melbourne and am now looking for the next job, doing a few auditions and seeing what's going to happen. It's a little bit scary - the unknown - but that's what this industry is all about. I'm just trying to embrace it and enjoy it.

How about Libby? What can we watch out for during your time playing her?
I hate to say it, but I think I got the good storylines! Actually, I don't hate to say it - I love it! But I did feel bad for Kym because I rocked up and got the really cool storylines. There's certainly lots of juicy, emotional stuff. The unexpected happens. Hopefully, everyone who's a fan of the character and the show will keep watching. It's very interesting and I'm certainly intrigued to find out what happens next.