Soap stars becoming pop stars. The concept is nothing new.
In fact it has been done so many times you could be forgiven for forgetting the names of the countless faces that have tried a career in pop when the acting well dried up, hoping to become the next Kylie.
It’s not often a long and successful career is forged, but occasionally someone comes along and does just that. Enter Melissa Tkautz. With over 20 years in the industry she’s a veteran, having blessed our TV screens as Nikki Spencer in ‘E Street’ in the early ‘90s. After being nominated for the Best New Talent Logie in 1991, she took the unusual step of leaving a very successful acting role to take up a career in music.
“‘Read My Lips’ [Tkautz’ first single] was basically given to me and I had no idea what I was doing,” she laughs.
“I knew I loved singing and I had trained as a singer, but everything happened so quickly, it was just a crazy whirlwind. One minute I’m watching ‘E Street‘ in my lounge room, the next minute I’m starring in ‘E Street’ and I’ve got a number one single in the charts!”
In the years that followed, Melissa occasionally returned to acting with stints in ‘Paradise Beach’ and ‘Echo Point’, and more recently ‘Swift And Shift Couriers’ and ‘Houso’. But it was her role in the cult classic ‘Pacific Drive’ as HIV-positive character Bethany Daniels that had the most profound effect on her.
“It was huge at the time! I played the first HIV-positive character on Australian TV so I did a lot of research on the role and a lot of charity work with HIV [patients], especially young kids who had contracted the disease.
"No one really knew too much about it back then either. It was educating people that if you have HIV it doesn’t mean you are going to die tomorrow.”
After so many years in the industry and so much success I mention that she’s still relatively young for all that she has achieved.
“I’m very fortunate in my life at the moment, I’ve got a beautiful daughter and husband, I’m still able to do gigs, record music and that’s very important to me, and I’m just blessed with the most loyal fanbase!”
‘Melissa Tkautz: The Hits’ is out August 10. Melissa plays The Beat August 24.