Bowen has lived the life of the struggling actress.
From her days studying at the University of Wollongong and living in Minnamurra to working four service night jobs, she remembers the days of when she would decide whether to buy ‘a new book on acting or dinner’. Wind forward to 2016 and the 32 year-old is preparing to perform a sold-out Australian tour on the back of her role as Scarlett O’Connor in the hit television show Nashville.
After that, she’ll play a sold-out tour through the UK. “Home for me has never been a place, it’s the people, but this and Nashville are my homes,” she said.
“I met the man I’m going to marry in Nashville and my family is here, and it’s nice we’re all here together at the moment.” The girl who once sat up the back of lecture theatres and eventually lost her passion for singing has found self-discovery and success in equal parts.
The dream, breakout role
Nashville is an American musical drama series that premiered in 2012 and ran for four seasons. Last week, American television network ABC announced it would stop producing the series. However the four-year ride has given Bowen an international profile, priceless publicity, a reinvigorated music career and a fiance.
“I fell in love with [the character] Scarlett O’Connor — she wrote things down and never showed anybody and that’s what I’ve been doing since I was nine years old,” she said. “I’m buggered if I know why they cast me, and at the audition I thought there’s no way I’m going to get this, so the most I can hope for is going in and having fun and give it my all.” She went in and sang an Australian folk song she cannot remember the name of, but it worked.
She was called the following day and offered the role. “It was nuts — they told me I was moving to Nashville and I didn’t know where it was. “I knew it was a wonderful place but I didn’t know where it was.” The show has since been screened in over 70 countries.
Making a home in Nashville
Bowen met her partner Brandon Robert Young while performing to 17,000 people at a concert. “We were like ‘hi, this is really intimate’, and then I fell in love with him writing a song,” she said. The pair are now engaged, Bowen sold a small farm she had bought in Nashville and they have bought a house together in the world’s country music capital. It is all part of everything falling into place for the girl from the New South Wales South Coast who said she had an unconventional upbringing either in hospitals [she had a form of liver cancer as a child] or national parks.
“Now I realise that everything I ever wanted to do revolved around making people’s lives better,” she said. “It’s about love and kindness and making the most of it while you’re still here, because from a young age, I knew that could be taken away pretty quickly.”
Clare Bowen spoke to ABC Illawarra Mornings presenter Nick Rheinberger.