It's not hard for Michala Banas to play a displaced city girl: most of her life she's been on the move, writes Robert Fidgeon.
MICHALA Banas confesses to being something of an acting nomad.
A show-business veteran at only 22, her career has taken her from New Zealand to Melbourne and finally, her present place of residence, Sydney.
"My dad's in the business. He's an actor, writer and director," she says. "The nature of the business is you're often on the move. That's how it was for me as a youngster. We travelled a lot, from city to city, where the work was."
As a result, Banas can relate to her Always Greener character, Marissa Taylor.
The 18-year-old Marissa was forced to uproot her life when her parents decided to move from the city to the country.
"She didn't like it. She was a city girl, but she is adapting," Banas says.
"As an actor, the role of Marissa is great because it's given me the opportunity to go on a real journey with her and develop.
"While I'm a little older than Marissa in real life, I can certainly relate to the changes she has experienced.
"Much of Marissa's brash exterior is a defence mechanism to hide her vulnerability and insecurities."
Banas landed the role of Marissa after five years in Melbourne. Much to her delight, fellow Melburnians Scott Major, Bree Walters, Clayton Watson and Daniel Bowden all scored roles in the Seven series.
"It was a real mass exodus," she laughs. "I drove up to Sydney with Bree and Scott. The five of us all stayed together in a hotel for the first weeks and flew the Victorian flag."
Banas now shares a flat with Walters and has settled into life in the Harbour City.
The dark-haired, slightly built actor first came to prominence at 15, when she was nominated for New Zealand's Best Young Actress Award for her role in the Australia/New Zealand/Canada movie co- production Mirror Mirror.
In the break between filming the first and second series of Always Greener, Banas was on the move yet again, heading north to Queensland for a small role in the hit movie Scooby-Doo, starring Buffy's Sarah Michelle Gellar.
"There wasn't a lot of me, but it was a pivotal role, playing a girl called Carol," she says.
"It's certainly different acting in a movie that depends so much on computer-generated animation, but it was great fun."
After a brief stint on Monday evenings, Always Greener moves back to Sunday night, where it premiered.
The Todd and Taylor families are settling into their new surrounds: Taylors in the country, Todds the city.
"The storylines are really interesting and Marissa is developing into a great character. The show was always fresh and original, but it's stronger now than ever before," says Banas, who is often mistaken for Dawson's Creek star Katie Holmes.
"It's funny, really. I don't know that I can see the similarity, but people say it's there.
"I was in a cafe in Melbourne late last year and a waitress came up and asked me for my autograph -- not because she'd seen me in Always Greener, but she thought I was Katie."
Now, Katie Holmes guest-starring in Always Greener. There's something for those damned talking chooks to talk about.
MICHALA Banas was nominated for the Best Young Actress Award in the 1996 New Zealand Television Awards for her performance in the movie Mirror Mirror (she's pictured left, with Petra Yared).
Guest roles in TV series including Good Guys Bad Guys, State Coroner, Murder Call and Blue Heelers, followed.Banas has also featured in Flipper, The Lost World, the ABC children's series Round the Twist, along with Beastmaster, Two's Something in the Air and the recent movie hit Scooby Doo, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.