Tammin Sursok’s Latest Role Reignited Her Body Image Battles, But She’s Glad She Persevered

"I thought my secret was keeping me safe, but it was making me sick"

Tammin Sursok is a household Australian name, who, much like every Australian star, caught her first break on Home and Away. Given her humble beginnings, it’s easy to forget sometimes, that the actress has also made a name for herself globally, catching her bigger breaks in the likes of Pretty Little Liars and The Young and The Restless, Aquamarine and Hannah Montana. 

While most acting dreams involve packing up and moving somewhere within the vicinity of the big Hollywood sign (which was certainly true for Tammin), the actress says she still calls Australia home. In fact, she’s touched back down recently, and is looking forward not only to setting up roots here, but to show her two young daughters what it means to live a life Down Under. 

“When I came back back with my kids it was just like the floodgates opened up about how much I miss Australia, I love it here,” she told marie claire Australia. 

Sursok went on to say that despite feeling homesick, she’s cognisant of the fact that she lives a split life and has to divide her heart evenly between Australia and America. After marrying an American film director, the actress’s work life has doubled in intensity, with the family having to split their time between the two countries in order to juggle everything. They’re still figuring it out, but they’re happy, at least for now, to be home. 


While her love for the United States is undeniable, Sursok is still excited when an Australian project presents itself, giving the actress an opportunity to bolster her career on home soil. The latest? An all-Aussie production of the infamous Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin rivalry, shot and produced in sunny Queensland. The series (which is currently streaming on Stan) sees John Cameron Mitchell and Kate McKinnon take on leading roles as sworn enemies, with a lineup of equally intriguing characters in tow, one of whom happens to be played by Sursok. 

“It was just so amazing to be cast on a great show like that. I I love Kate McKinnon so much and she’s an idol of mine –  I feel like it was a manifestation dream actually be in the same makeup room with her. It felt super surreal to be part of it to be honest,” Sursok said excitedly. 


While her decision to take on the role felt like a no-brainer, it didn’t come without its concerns. Sursok had major reservations about the costuming for her character, as it brought up a host of ongoing issues for her surrounding body image. For anyone with similar struggles, the idea of going about their daily lives is challenging enough, but add multiple cameras and an entire film crew to the mix, and many would be left paralysed with fear. This is the exact situation Tammin found herself in while working on Joe vs Carol, grappling with emotions of excitement and terror to tackle the confronting reality of her role, which saw her playing the sexually-liberated, sensual-dressing Nicole. 

“I don’t know If I ever fully accepted my body. I’m honest about it through my social media posts, because I feel like a lot of people, women especially, are going through the same thing. I was an overweight teenager and I had eating disorders when I was in my teens. It was like this hidden secrets that I felt really ashamed about,” Sursok explained. 

“A couple of years ago, I just kind of threw it out there and told the truth and said what was going on with me and I was so worried about it because it was like, my secret I thought it was keeping me safe, but it really wasn’t, it was making me sick. The minute I shared it, I realised that a lot of girls, especially young girls were going through the same thing. When you walk that road with eating and not loving yourself in some form, it doesn’t just go away. I get asked a lot of the time, ‘well, how did you get better?’ and I would say that my relationship with food is great now,  but I wouldn’t say my relationship with my body is particularly wonderful – and I think that that’s the process. It takes time, and I think as you get older, you start to accept things in your life and appreciate your body for what it does and not what it looks like.” 


After explaining how she’s faced off against personal demons from her teen years to now, Tammin went on to reveal that while this new role was initially quite triggering, in the end, she’s proud of herself for seeing it through. 

Being in this show [Joe vs Carol]  my character is in a very revealing outfit for most of it, and I almost didn’t do the role because I was worried about having to do something like that in front of people. Then I just got to a point where I was like, ‘I hope that the reason I don’t get this role isn’t because of my body, I hope it’s because of my acting’, and so I had to lean into that and accept that this is my body and I just sort of jumped in,” she explained.  

“I felt like something bad would happen if I jumped in the deep end, and it didn’t. And I think when that happens, you get an emotional high and are so proud of yourself. So I would say in the beginning I wasn’t that comfortable and by the end of it, I definitely felt more comfortable within my within my body.” 

Daze Photography (Credit: Daze Photography)

While the actress admits that her journey with self-love is ongoing and ever-evolving, it’s pushing herself outside of her comfort zone that allows for the most growth, and it’s why she takes every opportunity to do so. Sursok has most recently partnered with iconic Australian brand Best & Less to celebrate the launch of their new denim range, yet another project which sees her jumping in front of the camera  but this time, it’s been far less daunting and far more relaxed. 

“It was really nostalgic for me,” Sursok said. “I’ve been around for a while, Best & Less has been around for a while and I thought it was pretty cool to partner with them and come out with their new denim range. I’ve travelled to a few different states within the last 10 days and like air hostesses will be like, ‘Oh, I went into Best & Less and I saw you there and ended up buying it,’ and it really connected me with everyone, it was nice.” 

As for why she felt that the new denim range was the perfect fit, she said it felt like the perfect meshing of an ongoing love for denim and a desire to get behind Aussie labels that she knows and loves. 

“I’ve always loved denim, I’ve worn it since I was 17 and comfort is really important to me because I’m exhausted most the time being a working mom and I love these pieces so much that I actually haven’t taken off my overall in like three days, because they’re so comfortable and also stylish. Partnering with them and being involved in this has been quite an honour,” she said.  

Daze Photography (Credit: Daze Photography)

Despite Joe vs Carol only just hitting streaming, there’s no time to rest in the wild world of entertainment. Sursok already has her sights set on the next big thing, which once again sees her hit home soil for a new series, The Good Hustle. As the name suggests, the show is all about what it takes to make it in the media world (and the lengths some people will go to stay there). 

“It’s about five publicists who are in the cutthroat world of publicity and it’s a very female-driven show,” Sursok explained. “Obviously I’ve never been a publicist, but I’ve been around a lot of agents in my career and just seeing that world iIn the small ways that I have is fascinating, and it’s worth showing what that looks like. It will touch on a lot of things that are quite deep and real and there’s a mystery element threaded throughout the whole show, too.

Intrigued? Understandable. At a surface level, the world of PR can feel like a bunch of glitz and glamour, but for Sursok, she describes the human-psychology component to it as “completely fascinating.” 

“PR is all about creating something from nothing. I I know for a fact that for huge stars in America, sometimes there’s nothing going on for them, but then there’s some kind of story – something salacious or a relationship where people get paired up just get some kind of notoriety. There’s a lot of ways that people create their own narrative and the people who are pulling those strings are publicists, and that to me is is interesting and very powerful.” 


Unfortunately Australia has had its fair share of setbacks over the last few months. From lockdowns to closed borders and floods, the seemingly endless string of disasters has wreaked havoc on the entertainment industry, causing all kinds of delays. Tammin expressed her disappointment that filming hasn’t commenced yet, but is feeling positive that they’ll have the chance to get started in the near future.

As for how she feels about her fellow cast members which include the likes of Alexa Hung, Lisa Flanagan and Tim Robards, Tammin had the opportunity to meet everyone at a roundtable reading, describing her co-stars as “professional, humble and personable.”

It’s a crazy business, but the love Tammin has for the industry is palpable. Her career has taken her not only around the world, but on a personal journey that’s still teaching her things about herself all these years later  and that really is the good hustle. 

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