If you were watching the highest rating show on Australian television at 7pm on Sunday and thought you recognised a familiar Wollongong face you weren't mistaken.
Former Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts student Elise Vohradsky was seen by more than a million viewers around Australia and will be again this Sunday when the second half of the Murder in the Outback documentary looking into the disappearance of British backpacker Peter Falconio airs on Channel 7.
With many more viewers watching the four part series on 7Plus the opportunity to play Joanne Lees in all the re-enactment scenes was a career making opportunity for Ms Vohradsky.
The investigative film was produced to try and clear up some questions relating to the events of Falconio's disappearance that made international headlines in July 2001.
The court ruled he was murdered by Bradley John Murdoch who remains in jail. But the series poses questions about his guilt.
With so much global interest surrounding the case the series aired on British television in June. And has already resulted in Ms Vohradsky, who taught herself a Yorkshire accent and had her hair cut short for the role, securing more work as an actor.
The dramatic re-enactment scenes she appears in were all filmed in the Northern Territory last September.
The story was picked up around the world on July 14, 2001 after Lees flagged down a truck on an outback road and recounted a horrendous ordeal about her and her boyfriend being attacked and her managing to escape.
She believed Falconio had been shot but his body was never found.
Ms Vohradsky said it was the biggest role of her career and involved learning as much as she could about the events of that day that occurred when she was only 11 years old. And acting was not something the budding classical guitarist has not even considered at that age.
When she attended Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts as a teenager it was because of her passion for music. At that time she didn't feel confident about putting herself out there as a singer, let alone an actress.
A decade later she started growing in confidence to perform when she and her sister Tamsyn started taking singing lessons at Melodique Music School in Wollongong.
"Doing lessons with Andrea definitely gave me a lot of confidence in performing and putting myself out there," Ms Vohradsky said.
"When we first started I was almost too shy to sing in front of her. She said when I perform on stage that will help and put us into the Wollongong Eisteddfod".
Ms Vohradsky hadn't thought about seriously pursuing acting until around the same time when she was working in the Faculty of Business at the University of Wollongong in social inclusion supporting disadvantaged students.
She had been doing entertainment at children's birthday parties around that time but wasn't sure how to get into acting until she stumbled on the drama society at UOW.
Her confidence grew more she wrote a stage adaptation of Jessica Jones and performing it more than 200 people.
"I had been playing guitar since I was nine years old. I have always loved anything creative," she said.
"But it wasn't until I was 26 that I finally thought about pursuing this dream. I was especially interested in action and stunt work".
When Ms Vohradsky heard about auditions at the Novotel for an acting school she tried out and was accepted.
Then a trip to Melbourne with the school three years ago for a showcase was her chance to be noticed nationally by people in the industry who could get her work in movies and on television.
"I sold my Vespa to to buy tickets to Melbourne where I performed and ended up getting an agent in Gina Stog," she said.
"There were agents from around Australia and even LA. They were sitting in the audience watching as I performed in an improv and a monologue. If they like you they give you a call back for a job interview,. Which Gina did."
It wasn't long before Ms Vohradsky started getting some roles in independent-film and television series in Australia. Followed by a productive trip to Los Angeles in 2018 where she attended auditions and got some work in a documentary.
Her showreel and portfolio was starting to build but just as her career began gathering momentum she had a bad experience with someone in the industry that set her back 12 months.
Coming back to Wollongong and reconnecting with people she knew really helped her regain her love for acting.
And being asked to audition for Murder in the Outback and securing the role has given her all the confidence she needs to keep going.
With new hope she is starting to dream of what might be again. And would love to play a female super hero.
"I love playing strong women and I would love to do an action based role," she said.
"I would love to play a character like Xena where I could do acting as well as stunt work and action".
While she would love to work in Hollywood, Australia is where Ms Vohradsky wants to live and secure as many roles as she can.
"I like to be still close to the people I care about," she said.
When Ms Vohradsky made the final four for the role of Joanne Lees she was asked to provide a video of herself re-enacting the press conference and a scene where she is in the back of the ute crying and screaming out for Falconio.
She rehearsed the press conference monologue until she felt she had the voice and mannerisms right and had not trouble filming that at home.
But with the screaming and crying required for the other scene she felt embarrassed doing that at home. So she jumped in the car and drove down the road to film it from the back seat.
After she secured the role Ms Vohradsky continued watching footage and reading as much as she could about the case.
"Joanne Lees also wrote a book. It was an autobiography about her experience and I read that from her point of view which was really helpful," she said.
"I wanted to play the role through her perspective. I felt that was really important.
"The way I performed in each of the scenes I wanted to make sure it was really accurate."
Ms Vohradsky said from the feedback she has received she seems to have done okay and been realistic in the role.
"I am absolutely blown away by this opportunity," she said.
"It has been so unexpected and so amazing. This is easily the best thing I have ever done in my acting career. I am really grateful.
"When it aired I got contacted by so many friends and family who watched it. It was really cool to know people I care about got so see my work on television".
Ms Vohradsky also got Facebook messages from people who didn't know about her role asking if it was her and saying congratulations.
She said she had never been to the Northern Territory before and took advantage of the opportunity to visit Uluru while she was there.
Driving out on those isolated roads in a hire car before shooting some of the scenes in the outback helped her relate more to Joanne Lees and the remoteness and isolation she would have felt when Falconio went missing.
"When I was driving alone in the outback it was really eerie," she said.
"It was like an hour on the road sometimes when I did not see anyone.
"Unintentionally it was good preparation.
"It would have been really scary out there for Joanne Lees. After the murder she must have been wondering if anyone would come past. It was just by luck the truck drove past and stopped for her. She was really lucky."
When I was driving alone in the outback it was really eerie. It was like an hour on the road sometimes when I did not see anyone. It would have been really scary out there for Joanne LeesElise Vohradsky
Ms Vohradsky said the re-enactment scenes were dramatic real life events and she wanted to be authentic in the role. She said it was such a relief to do it well and reach this point in her career.
Like anyone starting out in acting work comes slowly at first. And she had to move out of places she lived when she couldn't afford the rent.
Ms Vohradsky has done many different jobs to support her career such as painting baubles at a Christmas shop, doing face-painting at children's parties and some casual work in disability services at the university which she was still able to do when COVID-19 hit.
She is also studying animation. She would like to still work in film when there are few acting roles around.
Ms Vohradsky said her family were really concerned about her at times and it was so good for her to have them see she is starting to succeed.
"It is really great to see I have made them proud," she said.
"I have really started putting myself out there again and things are really good now. I feel very very lucky at the moment".
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.