When they saw "A. Bloomfield" on the call sheet for this year's Celebrity Treasure Island, several castaways thought the reality series had scored a coup by bagging New Zealand's beloved Director-General of Health.
"Really?!" laughs former Shortland Street actress Angela Bloomfield when Woman's Day relays the news.
"Why would Dr Ashley Bloomfield come on this show? He's quite busy looking after the country. But I've got some time on my hands!"
However, that's not to say the 48-year-old has been idle since her longtime alter ego Rachel McKenna left Ferndale in 2017. After a stint directing the soap, Angela ditched showbiz for real estate and just before filming started on Treasure Island, she sold three houses in one day!
"Everyone thinks they must be such different worlds, but there are real crossover aspects," she tells us. "A lot of real estate is making sure people understand the information I'm giving them, which is what I'm doing with actors when I'm directing – and we film the properties, which is where acting comes in. I've run some training with my colleagues on how to relax on camera and not give away their nerves."
Would she ever use her acting skills to make houses seem better than they really are? "Look, authenticity is key for me," insists Angela. "I'm a truthful person and, anyway, if you know something about a property, you're legally obliged to tell people. I'll be honest about the state a house is in and instead focus on how someone can turn it into their dream home."
The mum-of-two had no second thoughts signing up for Treasure Island, despite the fact her Shorty co-star and one-time onscreen husband Karl Burnett, aka Nick Harrison, spectacularly quit the TVNZ 2 series last season amid fears for his mental health.
Angela tells, "He reached out quite quickly after getting back and sounded upset. I felt dreadful for him and when I watched the episode, I cried. He was very brave to realise he wasn't in the right headspace and say that aloud. I have so much respect for that."
Meanwhile, when it comes to how she'll cope in the wilds of the Far North on this season, Angela laughs, "I just remembered our seventh form school camp, when they sent us out one night to build a bivouac to sleep in. No one built anything and we all just lay in the grass, shivering and getting eaten by mosquitoes. I'm afraid my survival skills haven't grown since then. This could be a disaster!"
In preparation for Treasure Island, the star's kids, Max, 16, and Maya, 15, encouraged her to hit the gym. "They've been massive cheerleaders, quite annoyingly so," smiles Angela. "Any time I was going to have a little bit of chocolate or cake, they'd go, 'Get out of the fridge! Think of the slow-motion running shots.' But I'd have the chocolate anyway!
"I'm not here to compare myself to anyone else. There are sports stars and people whose jobs it is to look good in a bikini. I'm neither of those things. I'm 48, I've had two children and I'm physically comfortable – this is my frame. But as soon as you shove that in front of the camera, there's a little chink in that armour."
Last time she talked to us, Angela admitted she was "pretty happy" with her love life after separating from her husband Chris Houston and the same is true now, though she confesses nobody sent her any romantic messages on Valentine's Day, which came just before filming started on Treasure Island.
"Look, I've been dating up a storm over Christmas," she reveals. "I'm on an app and my friends are offering to set me up on blind dates with guys. It's fun! It's an interesting landscape."
Asked if it's hard looking for love online with such a recognisable face, Angela says, "I had one guy go on about it a little bit, which was a real red flag – he clearly just wanted to tell people he'd been on a date with someone on the telly. But mostly they don't mention it and actually treat me like it doesn't exist, which is kind of nice.
"I haven't given up on love. I really haven't. I've got a lot going on. It'll happen. What will be will be!
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