After her character's tragic death on our screens last week, Shortland Street star Grace Palmer finally reveals the truth about her emotional exit from the popular Kiwi soap.
Opening up to Woman's Day, the 22-year-old says she made the agonising call to walk away from the show that boosted her to stardom.
"I'd known for about the last year that Shorty wasn't a forever thing," reveals Grace, who played nurse Lucy Karim for three years. "By the time I was done with Lucy, she'd created a sex tape, been held hostage, got married and had a bubba, and I felt really content."
Over 630,000 fans tuned into Shorty's dramatic feature-length anniversary episode, where Lucy haemorrhaged after delivering her daughter in the back of the car. In her three years on the soap, the bubbly brunette says her final scenes were certainly the most challenging.
"It's very hard to let go of a character that you've loved and nurtured for so long – it does feel like a little piece of my heart will always be with Lucy," says Grace, who thoroughly researched childbirth before her labour scenes.
"It pushed me right out of my comfort zone. I was so nervous about doing it because it's such a beautiful thing that so many women have done and I wanted to do it justice."
While landing a big blockbuster movie role will always be the ultimate dream, Grace – who is currently filming on Tongue Tied, a Maori Television comedy series – has no plans to move to America just yet. "I'm ready to dive into the next chapter – whatever or wherever that may be."
Read the full story with Grace Palmer in this week's issue of Woman's Day, on sale now