MANDY McElhinney, known to many as Rhonda, from the AAMI car insurance ads, is relishing her new role as a hard-line matron on Love Child.
The actress plays Frances, the woman in charge of the Stanton House for underage, unwed mothers in 1969 Kings Cross, in Channel 9's new drama.
"Normally I get cast as very warm characters, which is not an adjective come to mind when describing a matron," McElhinney told The Guide.
"She's very austere and controlled."
McElhinney, who also starred in Nine's Logie-winning mini-series Howzat: Kerry Packer's War, believes the country's history of forced adoptions is an important story to tell.
"It was happening in my lifetime, which is quite sobering," she said.
"One of the reasons I love what I do is that we can look back at the past and see where we've come from and perhaps the legacies we're dealing with because of choices we've made in the past.
"I was interested in playing a character who was a perpetrator of that. I wanted to try and understand the mentality of that, that this is for their best interests. It's a really interesting motivation to explore."
Love Child is set in a time of upheaval, when the attitudes of the '60s were challenging traditional, conservative values.
The Vietnam War is raging, man is about to land on the moon and feminism is about to change the lives of a generation of women.
"Rules and hierarchy of society were everything to these women who ran these hospitals," she said.
She stars opposite former Packed to the Rafters beauty Jessica Marais, who plays Joan Miller, a woman who returns from swinging London to work as a midwife and struggles with the harsh way in which the young mothers are treated.
Love Child - Nine/WIN - Monday at 8.40pm
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