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Interviews > Sam Clark

In 2006, Australian magazine, Dolly offered the chance for one male & one female reader to win a three month guest role in Neighbours and on August 4th of that year, Sam Clark was announced as one of the lucky winners. Now, over three years later, as the Neighbours celebrates 25 years on the air, Sam Clark talks to us about working on the show and his music career...

Had you done any acting before auditioning for your Neighbours role?
I had been mainly just involved in school productions. I was involved in drama and had major roles in musicals during years 11 and 12.

You had the unusual experience of winning your role through a competition in Dolly magazine. How did you find out about it? What made you apply?
I found out about the competition via a TV commercial. My friends said I should apply because I looked like I should be in something like Neighbours - so I did.

Can you tell us a little about that audition process and what it felt like to be told you'd got the part of Ringo?
It was an Australia wide search for a new male and female star for Neighbours. Over seven thousand people entered the competition. This was rapidly cut down to 30 in each Australian State involved. After an audition for the editor of Dolly magazine - Bronwyn McCahon and the casting Director of Neighbours - Jan Russ, this was then cut down to a top 12 and we had to audition on stage at our local shopping centre, with a Neighbours cast member. It was then cut down to 5 guys and 5 girls Australia wide and we were flown to Melbourne to Audition on set at Neighbours with another Neighbours cast member. The announcement was made three days later on location in front of The General Store (I believe that is what it was called back then). The feeling was almost indescribable - a huge mix of emotions.

Out of the four Dolly winners over the years, you've perhaps been the most successful, with Ringo now having been on our screens for almost three years. What do you think made Ringo different to the likes of Lolly, Simon & Tegan?
I wouldn't know what made Ringo different? I always give one hundred percent to everything I do, but then so did those actors.

Were you a fan of the show before joining the cast? How did you find the experience?
I used to watch the show when I was in school but stopped watching when I was around 16 as the school work load became too heavy along with my music commitments.

Initially you worked closely with Ben Lawson & Natalie Saleeba. Do you miss the family dynamic you had with Carmella, Frazer & Rosie and how does it compare to being part of the Kennedy household?
I really do miss the family dynamic and I especially miss having Ben around. Having no direct link to the street anymore is kind of strange. How can you not love being part of the Kennedy household though? I'm amongst very good company there.

You've also had the chance to work with the likes of Penny Cook, Jackie Woodburne & Alan Fletcher. Do you find it intimidating to work with such established actors or have you found that you've learnt from them?
I have learnt a lot from all of them at different stages in my career. Penny Cook especially playing my first on screen mother gave me some wonderful pieces of advice. I adore her and miss her very much too.

Ringo has been at the centre of a diverse range of storylines over the years, from his relationship with older woman Carmella, his struggle with anorexia and his short-lived AFL career. Has there been a storyline you've particularly enjoyed being part of or one you've not enjoyed so much?
I have really enjoyed all the storylines. Having them laid out for you in a question just brings back so many good memories. I have especially enjoyed recent storylines in which Ringo grows up quite a bit. Keep an eye out.

Do you prefer to act out dramatic scenes such as those in the storylines mentioned above or the more comedic scenes such as Ringo catching Karl & Susan in the act or he & Declan being mistaken for a gay couple?
I love both! Too much of one or the other gets boring. All things in moderation

The friendship between Ringo, Declan, Zeke, Bridget, Donna & Rachel, later Sunny, was thought by many to be one of the strongest in the show's history. Did you all genuinely get on off-screen and was there anyone in particular you enjoyed working with?
I loved working with all of these people and feel very honoured to be considered to be part of the strongest friendships.

You've recently taken a break to promote your music career; which immediately raised questions over your return. How long are you off-screen for?
I am definitely returning and will only really be off screen for 2 months! Can't wait to play my music for more people - especially in the UK - but I've been looking forward to getting back into Ringo's shoes too.

You've always been quite vocal about your music being your first love. With your debut single, Broken, now out to buy in Australia & on iTunes in the UK, how does it feel to have finally have it on sale?
It is so exciting, daunting, rewarding. It's another one of those mixed emotion sort of situations. But mainly all positive! It has been a real lesson and experience. Onwards and upwards from here!

Many soap stars have launched music careers and, for every Kylie or Natalie Imbruglia, there are handfuls that haven't made it. What makes your music stand out from those who haven't been so successful?
I suppose being a writer and also playing different instruments as well as singing gives me some difference, but I don't know if that is necessarily a recipe for success. I am very passionate about what I do - hopefully that along with hard work will make me successful.

You've been touring Australia to promote the single, how have you found the tour? Do you plan to eventually do the same in the UK?
I have found the tour amazing! Eye opening and so very rewarding. We reached number 1 on the ARIA physical singles charts and have broken into the top 40 ARIA charts with basically no support from radio. I am definitely planning on coming to the UK - sometime later this year looks promising.

What are your plans for the future? Do you intend to continue acting or is music the way forward?
I plan to continue doing both for as long as I can. Who knows what the future holds - a lot of work either way but also massive amounts of fun. Hopefully living the dream either way.

Finally, as Neighbours celebrates 25 years on screen, what do you think accounts for it's enduring success?
A very strong and highly dedicated fan base and hard working cast and crew.

Find out more about Sam's music on his website. Broken is available to download now on iTunes both in Australia & the UK.

Interview by Callum. Added on 20th March 2010