How did you become involved in musicals?
When I was young, my mother took me to see a production of Gypsy as her friend's daughter was performing in the show. My mum then thought it would be a fun thing for me to get involved in and sent me to join the local amateur dramatic company. I continued with amateur productions for many years and entered many festivals and competitions in singing, dancing and drama, before landing my first lead as Dorothy in a school production of The Wizard Of Oz when I was 12. I began to take lessons in the various disciplines and to take it more seriously.
You've trained at The Guildford School of Acting, have many professional credits, including appearances at The Royal Albert Hall, Disneyworld and Cardiff International Music Festival ... how did you find the experience of competing on How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
It was a very bizarre process and, of course, as we didn't know how successful it was going to be at first, I didn't exactly enjoy it at the time.
Looking back, however, we are all very proud of what we achieved. It was very nerve-wrecking, but that wasn't really the problem.
Performers are well used to criticism and nothing the panel could have said was ever going to make me think any differently about what I do - I had enough success before the show to realise that I must be good.
The hard part was that family and friends also had to cope with the weekly comments. But, as I said to my dad, I am here and I am still going to be doing it after the series and you just get through it.
Was your confidence shaken when Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber saved you and you were given the tag 'Miracle Maria'?
It would have been if I had been someone who had just come off the street without any experience in the business, but I think they knew I would be able to take whatever they threw at me because I was probably the most experienced contestant.
I came across to the producers as a bit of a tough cookie and I guess it was a bit of a challenge for them to try to break me to show my human side.
It was just sheer frustration that got me emotional. They knew that I could pretty much survive anything and that tag name was just part of the show. I knew it was television. It wasn't real life. Obviously, it was still emotional, as you wanted to do your best and pride wanted to get you through.
When I entered the show, I was very protective over my industry and the art form. I was determined that I was a professional and wanted to be seen as such. It wasn't the case that the show was my first big experience. I am very protective over the fact that I trained and I'm meant to be here and I would have got to this place regardless of the show. It was just another stepping stone, if you like. I believe the producers recognised this and that tag was their way of seeing my emotional side.
The television show was based on a new production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound Of Music and you are currently touring in a new production of the duo's South Pacific. Why do you think that their work is so enduring?
They knew how to write a melody better than anyone else and how to write a great tune that everybody would love.
I think they are part of an era when there was a separation between the music and the acting. The songs were, in a way, out of the genre and out of the play. The songs were really little bursts of energy and synopsis and, not like today, when the music is more tied in.
Are you enjoying playing the female lead (Nurse Nellie Forbush) in South Pacific?
Yes, because out of all of Rodgers & Hammerstein's leading ladies, Nellie goes on the biggest journey, dealing with racism, love of an older man, being stuck in the middle of a war, death of a friend, etc. What she goes through is massive and the creation of such a complex character at the time the piece was written was truly ground-breaking.
I was quite excited because, despite a high number of songs, hers is a real acting role and a demanding one. This is good because many people only get to see musical theatre performers as all-singing and all-dancing performers.
I'm still exploring her now as there are always new things to find in the part and in the show and that's what makes the job so interesting.