She's only 25, but Shortland Street star Rebekah Palmer is already thinking about her future midlife crisis!
The bubbly blonde confesses that she loves baking so much, it may influence her next career move. "I always joke that my midlife crisis is going to be opening a little cakery or bakery and, to be honest, I would be so satisfied and happy doing that," laughs Rebekah.
For now, though, the actress is more than content playing ditsy, delightful nurse Dawn Robinson on the beloved Kiwi soap – and she confesses her character's upbringing doesn't differ too much from her own.
Just like Dawn, Rebekah is a "wholesome country girl" at heart, having grown up on a dairy farm in the Coromandel. The star adds that she thinks her alter ego would also be an avid baker – after all, there was a small Shorty storyline in which she and receptionist Leanne, played by Jennifer Ludlam, went head to head over a trifle.
In fact, it was growing up so far from a town that turned Rebekah on to baking.
She recalls, "To go to the supermarket, it wasn't just five minutes down the road. If we wanted biscuits, treats or anything like that, it was easier to get butter, sugar and eggs, and make it yourself.
"My nana Anne used to live next door to us and she was a big baker, so I used to run across the paddock to her place and we would bake for hours in the kitchen."
Rebekah beams as she presents the Woman's Day team with one of her creations – a towering white chocolate cake topped with beautiful fresh flowers, that tastes as good as it looks – but she remains modest when heaped with praise.
"Sweet treats make everyone happy, so being able to give that kind of happiness gives me a lot of satisfaction," she insists.
Generosity clearly runs in the family because Rebekah tells us her beloved late nana always had some lemonade scones or a sponge cake in the oven to give to someone else.
"She would bake for people if they had babies or funerals or birthdays – baking was her way of showing love – so I guess I've inherited that side of things. 'Bring a plate' never meant going to the supermarket. It was all about making things from what was in the pantry.
"It's nicer than going to a shop and buying something off a stand, isn't it? It's something that you have poured love, time and energy into, and it's an art that is slowly dying away because it's so easy to access baked goods from the supermarket. But actually, doing it yourself is so satisfying and it's a skill everyone should have."
When she is not busy with the hectic shooting schedule of Shorty, Rebekah – who's dating builder Bevan Randell, brother of The Edge radio star Clint – can often be found pottering about in the kitchen. Baking helps her to unwind.
Giggling, she explains, "I'm always watching cake tutorials because I genuinely find them really relaxing. My partner can study building stuff for hours and I'm like, 'How can you do that?!' but then I remember I can sit there and ice cakes for days on end.
"I'm not a trained baker, so I'm always flying by the seat of my pants, but getting an idea in your head through watching videos of other people doing it is awesome for inspiration."
In fact, Rebekah's most recent baking trend was inspired by Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex's wedding cake, which was adorned with flowers.
The actress gushes, "It was beautiful! It so wasn't what I was expecting at all and I love that it was buttercream and not fondant – I think fondant is getting a bit old-fashioned."
Rebekah's next big focus in terms of cakes is going vegan, so she can share the love with her Shorty castmates, many of whom can't eat her buttery, egg-filled creations. "I'm all about the cream," she laughs.
Although she jokes about quitting the TVNZ 2 soap for a career in cakes, after just over a year on the show, Rebekah insists she won't be leaving any time soon.
"I'm having such a great time and I still feel like I have to pinch myself that this is my life," she explains. "It still blows my mind that I'm here in this position."
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