Neighbours star Jacinta Stapleton has spoken to Digital Spy about Zara Selwyn's arrival in Erinsborough, revealing that it was always the plan to bring in Amy Greenwood's troublesome daughter.
The show's new season has kicked off with a big new story for Amy, who was wrong-footed when Zara turned up wanting to spend time with her.
In recent days, Amy has struggled to balance her commitments as a parent to Zara alongside her polyamorous relationship with Ned Willis (Ben Hall) and Levi Canning (Richie Morris).
Wednesday's episode (January 12) on Channel 5 sees Zara ask Amy to put things on pause with Ned and Levi so that she can concentrate fully on her.
Asked whether Zara's introduction was always planned when Amy returned, Jacinta told Digital Spy: "It was actually, it was always on the cards. Amy hasn't been present in her children's lives. I think Amy has probably got abandonment issues and she's repeated the process with her own children.
"Amy was off flying all the time, being a flight attendant and travelling the world. She really hasn't spent much quality time with her kids and they've been brought up by their two gay fathers.
"Amy has felt afraid of Zara not understanding the polyamorous relationship and the seriousness of it. I guess Amy has been through all that with the whole town and trying to defend it all. Now Zara has come in and she's the one person Amy wants the respect of, but that can be quite challenging for her.
"Essentially it's more about the fact that Zara wants Amy to herself. She hasn't had a woman in her life and she's 16 and she just wants the chance to bond with her.
"Zara has lived with her fathers and brothers up in Queensland for ages and she's never had that girl time. That's what she wants and she doesn't want to vie for her attention."
Jacinta added that she was thrilled when Freya Van Dyke landed the role of Zara after the audition process.
She said: "I was involved at the callback session. They had five girls from the shortlist and I got the one I wanted, so that was good. It wasn't up to me, but obviously Freya was the best one for the part.
"Everyone is wonderful and they were all very capable on the callback level but Freya just had this nice fire but also a gorgeous vulnerability.
"Freya and I just connected. I thought that she had brought a really beautiful emotional quality and real softness, even though she comes in and she's quite the whirlwind, like a wrecking ball.
"It's so funny because Freya just turned 18 and that's the age I started. There's a lot of getting in trouble in school and Amy misunderstanding her. It's really interesting to see."
Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 6pm on Channel 5 (UK) and Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on 10 Peach (Australia).
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