The West

Julia s hard yakka pays off
Julia's hard yakka pays off

Despite being responsible for splitting sides for more than 20 years, House Husbands star Julia Morris never expected the renaissance in popularity she has encountered since taking out the first season of The Celebrity Apprentice Australia.

"I'm the last person I thought would be coming into fashion," the comedienne- turned-actress says in her typical Kath and Kim-esque twang.

"From the early days in my career I've never had what I call VIP-ness. I've just chipped away and worked like a dog."

After first finding fame on Full Frontal alongside Eric Bana in 1995, and working on almost every comedy show on Australian TV in the 90s, Morris relocated to the UK in 2000. She married British comedian Dan Thomas - who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year - and together the couple had two daughters, Ruby and Sophie.

The funny lady returned home to Australia in 2007 and the next year took out the third season of reality singing series It Takes Two. Not long after, the ever-ambitious Morris made the bold decision to move to the US to attend Lesly Kahn's acting school in Hollywood while continuing to make the gruelling commute Down Under every six weeks or so for corporate gigs and TV appearances.

But it wasn't until 2011 when Morris, 44, was a contestant on the inaugural Australian series of The Celebrity Apprentice, and won, that Australia started getting serious about her. "Winning Celebrity Apprentice led into a series of crazy job offers that I turned down," she says.

"I'd been in Los Angeles for two years at drama school, working my way towards a full game changer.

"So to go back and host Australia's Greatest Pet Headstand just seemed like a step back into how everybody felt about me before the Apprentice.

"I remember buddies of mine saying to me for years while we were sitting around in the lounge room talking 'I wish we could see this on TV, this is the person I'd like to see'.

"But there was never a vehicle to do that, so Apprentice was the first time that that happened."

Playing the waiting game paid off in spades for Morris who was offered the role of a lifetime as Gemma Horne, nurse and mum to five-year-old Matilda on Nine's hit family drama House Husbands, which returns for a second season on Monday.

"They thought it would be highly appropriate for me considering I have a house husband," she says.

"It has been the most fun I've had on a project ever, I'm having the time of my life.

"Of all the shows I've worked on since my first television appearance in 1985, this has genuinely been the most rewarding to my core."

After getting married to long-term partner Lewis Crabb (Gary Sweet) last season, the couple are facing new dramas thanks to the arrival of Jem, Lewis' teenage daughter Phoebe's (Georgia Flood) baby.

"There's a brand new baby in the house and there's no bigger nightmare than that," says Morris. "We are hands on grandparents and that crazy fatigue pushes people in all sorts of different directions."

There's also a forgotten birthday, a big purchase, a vasectomy and an armed robbery - all in the first episode.

"Now that the characters are bedded in from series one we feel like we know them and how they will respond to things," says Morris.

On Sunday, the humble celebrity will have a chance to chuck on her glad rags (a gown by Perth designer and friend Aurelio Costarella) to strut the ruby rug at the 55th annual TV Week Logie Awards in Melbourne.

Nominated for a silver Logie for most popular actress for her role in House Husbands, the show is also up for most popular drama while Morris' co-stars Firass Dirani and Edwina Royce have been nominated for most popular actor and most popular new female talent.

After losing the best new talent gong to John Seru aka Vulcan from Gladiators in 1995, Morris isn't holding her breath for a win.

"I haven't prepared a speech or anything like that," she says.

As her first official date with husband Thomas since she announced he had undergone a mastectomy on Twitter last year, Morris is just looking forward to attending the often-mocked ceremony.

"I have always genuinely, deeply loved the Logies," she confesses.

"It's part of childhood dreams. We sat at home and watched the Logies, it was a big night.

"I don't know why some people don't embrace it.

"Living overseas for so long, I'm still amazed by our cultural cringe.

"We make some great television in Australia. We make some s... television as well but so do all the other countries."

House Husbands returns on Monday at 8.40pm on Nine/WIN.

The West Australian

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