Press: How Nashville star Bowen beat the odds

Before she became Scarlett O’Connor in TV show Nashville, Aussie actress Clare Bowen had a decidely unglamorous job.

While working in Sydney’s Metro Theatre, Bowen, who now stars in the hit TV show, came close to giving up on her acting and singing dreams completely. “I’d been working four service jobs and auditioning during the day and I was so tired and worn down, and just heartbroken at everything,” she told AAP.

Bowen contemplated packing it all in to go work with horses in the countryside, but her brother, Tim, wasn’t so supportive of her plan to give up. Realising his sister was losing sight of her goals, he took action. On the back of a sandwich wrapper, he wrote a list of all the things she had hoped to achieve. Bowen framed the list and was pleasantly surprised when she looked at it recently.

“I have ticked off everything on that list except for writing a childrens’ book, so I’m eternally grateful to him for kicking my arse back into gear and making me believe in myself, and that’s how I got to Nashville,” she said.

Into the fourth season of the hit TV show, Bowen enjoys success as both an actress and a singer in the series. She’s just wrapped a north American tour with the show’s cast and will be coming back home to Australia for her first ever headline tour later this month.

The homecoming seems particularly poignant as Tim, who has written music used in the show, was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma. Bowen remains positive and has offered her help in an incredibly self-sacrificing way. “He’s on his last round of chemo and I’m going back there soon so they can run all my bloods to make sure that I’m a good match for stem cells and whatever they need,” she said. “I said I’d give him whatever they need if I can. I can’t wait to get back there and help him heal.”

The actress admits it can be hard being so far from home during a time like this but she’s been fully integrated into the Nashville community, that’s thriving thanks to the show’s popularity. Tourism has never been higher in the Tennessee capital. The shy actress has embraced it, moving from her farm on the outskirts of town to a recently purchased loft apartment in the heart of the city with her musician fiance, Brandon Robert Young.

“It’s really nice to be a part of something that has done a lot of good. Nashvillians are constantly telling us that the show has done a really good thing for the city so that’s the most important part, I couldn’t be a part of something that isn’t positive in that way,” she said. There’s a sense that for Bowen, being settled somewhere is particularly important.

At four-years-old, she was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer, end stage nephroblastoma, and had to undergo experimental treatment as her only hope of survival.

“I did some of my growing up in the city but it was highly unconventional mostly being in hospital,” she said. It was her own childhood experiences that prompted her to cut off her beautiful long blonde locks last year, surprising her fans when she revealed her new pixie haircut.

The move was Bowen’s attempt to shift the emphasis away from outer beauty and towards inner strength, something this actress has in spades. “You can be pretty, you can be Aphrodite, but if you’re mean on the inside then it doesn’t count for anything,” she said.

Clare Bowen Austrlaian tour dates:
May 24 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
May 25 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne SOLD OUT
May 26 – May Oxford Art Factory, Sydney SOLD OUT
May 27 – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul SOLD OUT
May 28 – Metro Theatre, Sydney
May 30 – The Triffid, Brisbane SOLD OUT
May 31 – The Triffid, Brisbane
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