When Westside premiered on TV3 last Monday night, the actress playing iconic character Cheryl West will have been recognisable to many Dannevirke people.
Cheryl is played by Jessica Grace Smith, who has fond memories of growing up in Dannevirke.
Westside, produced by South Pacific Pictures, is a prequel to Outrageous Fortune.
Jessica Grace moved to Dannevirke from Taihape in 1985 with her parents Peter and Zita Smith when she was around a year old.
The family had a farm at Tiratu. Peter worked as a vet at Oringi freezing works and Zita was a teacher at St Joseph's School, where Jessica and her brothers Ben and Chris were educated.
Peter and Zita moved away from Dannevirke in 2002 and now live on the Kāpiti coast. Jessica Grace spent two years at Dannevirke High School then completed Year 11 and 12 at Palmerston North Girls' High School.
It was Jessica Grace's skill at hockey that led to her changing schools.
"I was really good at hockey and I was in the Manawatū under-15 rep team. A lot of the girls I played with went to Girls' High so I made the switch."
A move away from Dannevirke High also suited her.
"I was a pretty naughty teenager." Jessica Grace spent the last year of her secondary schooling in Argentina.
She then went studied law for a year at Victoria University but took a gap year and spent time back in Argentina and Brazil.
"I didn't really enjoy law. Dad had always said 'make sure you do something you like'."
While working on her fitness, with an eye on making the Black Sticks, Jessica Grace enrolled at Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School, despite never having been in any sort of stage production.
"It is a beautiful drama school."
She graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Performing Arts majoring in acting.
That same year she won a starring role in Diagnosis Death, playing the part of a young cancer patient investigating ghosts.
She later rejoined the film's director Jason Stutter to star in his black comedy Edwin: My Life as a Koont. She then had the role of Diona in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.
A move across the Tasman saw Jessica Grace land an ongoing role in Home and Away.
"As a teenager I used to watch Home and Away while we were living on the farm. I loved it. It was set in this idyllic beachside community that was so different to where I was living.
"It used to be on before the news and I always had to argue with my parents to watch the cliff-hanger for the next episode.
"I played the part of Denny for two years. She was a much-loved character who died."
She said Home and Away was a good introduction to the Australian film industry.
"It is hard to get into as you do have to make a name for yourself."
Jessica Grace spent nine years working in Australia. Her latest project was writing and directing her first film, Everybody Else is Taken.
She returned to New Zealand with her husband Benedict Wall to begin filming Westside in February.
Filming took a break over the first lockdown, then resumed and was finished before the second lockdown.
"We decided to stay on in New Zealand so we had everything shipped here.
"The industry is really busy in New Zealand at the moment. There are a lot of projects coming here from other countries."
Jessica Grace and Benedict, who also worked on Home and Away but not at the same time, are living in Thames, preferring to live out of Auckland.
"We'll definitely stay in New Zealand for a while, it's a nice place to live."
When not acting, Jessica Grace spends her downtime writing and directing.
"You do have a lot of rejection but if you keep making money you keep going.
"When I was younger I didn't think acting was a real career. I thought maybe one day I'd get discovered while I was in the Plaza in Palmy.
"And I didn't see anybody coming from Dannevirke doing anything like that, but I guess it's all about what you are exposed to."