Debra Lawrance is returning to television to put her culinary skills to the test in Hell’s Kitchen . Photo: Simon SchluterActor Debra Lawrance is returning to television after her critically acclaimed role in the ABC’s Please Like Me.
But the 60-year-old – who is best known for playing “‘s mum” Pippa in Home and Away – isn’t about to return to Summer Bay any time soon. Instead, the Logie-award winner is dipping her toe into reality television.
Lawrance will star in the Seven Network’s new cooking show Hell’s Kitchen alongside nine other celebrities. Each of the contestants, including former Bachelorette star Sam Frost, will put their hospitality skills to the test under the terrifying guidance of Marco Pierre White.
The veteran actor admitted it might seem odd for someone usually associated with drama and theatre to take a leap into reality TV – especially when they’re experiencing what people see as a career “renaissance”.
However, she said after 40 years in show business it was time to try something different.
“I just thought, why not?” she said. “Some people assume reality TV is some dreadful secondary thing, or a shameful thing. But 27 years ago when they were casting for Pippa in Home and Away, we had the same attitude about soap operas.”
The award-winning actress said her time on the show didn’t turn her into a different person, but it did “broaden her horizons”.
“Some people can afford to sit in a theatre and be moved by Shakespeare,” she said. “Some people prefer to be moved at home with a television in the corner. Our job [first and foremost as actors] is to entertain human beings.”
After filming Hell’s Kitchen, Lawrance’s fellow contestant Sam Frost landed a gig on Home and Away. However, the soap opera veteran shot down any suggestion she would be joining her co-star and make a return to Summer Bay.
“I’m sure the older viewers would love to have her back, but I don’t know where she’d live,” she said. “I’m not living in a caravan – that’s like a demotion.”
Besides, apart from kick-starting her career, Home and Away has already given Lawrance so much: a house, a husband and two children. She calls her career the equivalent of “actor tattslotto”.
So, what’s next for the woman who wowed audiences around the world with her accurate portrayal of a bipolar mother in Please Like Me? The actor said fans can expect her to continue “ticking along”, as she’s always done.
“I thought if I could just survive into my 50s then I’d be OK,” she said, admitting that roles for female actors drop off remarkably as they get older.
“If you get the job and do a good job, you get the next one. I think that’s what’s happened to me. I feel very secure… but maybe I’m just getting to that point where I just don’t worry about anything.
“You can say this is a renaissance and getting slammed back into the public eye again, but there’s a warm familiarity to it.”
Hell’s Kitchen will premiere on Channel Seven on Sunday, August 6, from 7pm.