Masterton's very own Shortland Street star

By Don Farmer

A glamorous new doctor who has just joined the cast of the popular New Zealand television soap Shortland Street grew up in Masterton.
Amanda Billing, 28, is an old girl of Central School, Masterton Intermediate and St Matthew's Collegiate.
She is the daughter of former Masterton coroner Dennis Billing and his wife Lynne, who moved to Greytown where they bought the historic Lemon Tree Cottage, before leaving Wairarapa for Taupo.
Amanda's Shortland Street character, Dr Sarah Potts, is a good looking, vivacious and driven woman in her early 30s described by the soap's publicists as being liked, easy-going and good-humoured "until you transgress against something she values, then she can be bloody-minded in her determination to defend her principles".
As Dr Potts, Amanda quite literally crashed into the soap when she smashed into Dr Craig Valentine's car, driven by his son Jake.
It is hardly the perfect start to life at the hospital and Dr Valentine, once he realises Dr Potts has applied for a job at Shortland Street, does his best to persuade the chief executive officer Andrew Solomon not to hire her.
He is unsuccessful and tension builds between Sarah Potts and Craig Valentine to a point where he accuses her of sleeping with the boss to get ahead in her career.
By the end of Sarah's first week at the hospital the two have called a truce but sparks continue to fly between them, leading to speculation among confirmed Shortland Street viewers that romance is actually in the air.
In casting Amanda Billing as Dr Potts, Shortland Street producers are continuing the show's tradition of placing previously-unknown actors in starring roles.
On finishing her schooling in Masterton Amanda went to Christchurch as a student at the University of Canterbury.
She graduated with a BA with first-class honours in geography and then trained to become a high school teacher.
She was involved in drama during her teaching years, acting in stage productions like Cloud Nine and The Country Wife, both at Auckland's Silo Theatre.
Her last teaching job before becoming a fulltime member of the Shortland Street cast was at Rangitoto College, on the North Shore.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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