Ally Harris, a newbie to Summer Bay, has shown that a delayed diagnosis of ADHD has not hindered her achievement.
The actress, who is originally from Perth and plays nurse Dana Matheson, claims that she didn’t know what she wanted to accomplish with her life until she was in high school.
“I wasn’t among those young people who aspired to be actors. However, I used to play with my cutlery at the table when I was little. She explains, “I had a whole series of stories for them,” acknowledging that her mother wasn’t overly impressed with the actions.
“I didn’t realise I truly enjoyed acting until I was in high school and was performing more and more, and I felt like I could pull it off.”
That was a wake-up call for Harris, who claims that not knowing she had ADHD as a child meant she frequently felt unworthy in certain situations.
“I really just threw myself into things when I discovered what I was excellent at and interested in. I was certain that acting was what I wanted to pursue when I was about to graduate from high school. At the time, I was 16 or 17.
The now 26-year-old plunged herself into acting training, working with famous acting teacher Miranda Harcourt in New Zealand. She later landed roles in the real crime series The Claremont Murders and the Ioan Gruffudd-led forensic thriller Harrow.
She and 800 Words actress Jessica Redmayne were then chosen to play the sisters Harper and Dana Matheson, the newest residents of Home and Away, at the start of 2023. Dana and her older sister Harper went on the run after Dana was falsely accused of stealing medications from the hospital where she worked. They eventually arrived in Summer Bay, where social worker Harper asked her old acquaintance Constable Cash Newman (Nicholas Cartwright) for assistance.
To say that things went horribly wrong would be an understatement. It comes out that Dana’s lover, who was conspiring with a dishonest police officer, had set her up. The couple tried to kidnap and kill Dana after finding her hiding out in Irene’s (Lynne McGranger) home, but they were stopped in their tracks by Cash and Harper’s prompt arrival.
But now Cash is off the job and Harper and Irene are going to be charged in court.
Harris said she never considered appearing on Home and Away, much less in such a significant and captivating position.
As an actor in Australia, she adds, “I never really thought I would be on the show, but sometimes auditions would come through and you’d think, ‘Oh, that looks fun.'”
“To be honest, I didn’t start to wonder if I was going to be on the show until I was being flown to Sydney for the callbacks, and now here I am.”
For the play, Harris moved to Sydney and found a new big sister in Redmayne. She left her home, family, and boyfriend behind in Perth.
She continues, “It really, really helped to have somebody there,” mentioning that she was raised in a large blended household with three sisters.
“I remember people telling me it’s like a big family when I first came on the show, and it really is.” I’m incredibly appreciative that the transition has been the easiest that it could have been.
Aware that her contract to play Dana is only for three years, Harris is eager to build a rapport with the young nurse in the meanwhile.
“Whenever I work, I just try to give it everything I have. I spend a lot of time in this world, therefore I want to be as much like myself as possible,” she declares.
“The script dictates what I have to do, so obviously the circumstances are different, but that’s great because it’s a great exercise in self-exploration.”
“You say, ‘I would never do that, but why did I do it if I did?'” How come I would do that? You discover a new aspect of yourself that is capable of doing it.
Following her dramatic debut, Harris is eager to see what will happen to the impulsive Dana.
“It’s like a repertory theatre company where you stay as Hamlet but in different genres, instead of doing different plays and playing different people,” one of the directors likened it to.
It’s quite thrilling, Harris remarks. “When I first appeared on the show, I was kind of like a criminal, but now it’s moving towards humour and other stuff like that. It’s really entertaining to observe the same person in several contexts.