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Shortland Street

Weeknights at 7pm | TV2

Second time lucky?

Chris was attracted to dietician Zoe. So was his cousin, Isaac!

Talented Gina Varela rejoins the cast of Shortland Street this week, when she reprises her role as dietician Zoe Archer.

First appearing in March this year, ambitious Zoe returns to Ferndale on a mission to get what she wants.

Spending much of her childhood in Wellington, and the rest in Athens, Varela fell in love with acting when she was in her late teens.

"Whilst living in Greece I was doing music videos and commercials. But my very first proper audition was for the character of Pelagia in the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin," says Varela. "I got a call-back for that part and subsequently got the 'acting bug'."

Since then, Varela has appeared in numerous local productions, including Sione's Wedding, The Market, Power Rangers and Xena: Warrior Princess.

 Auditioning for Zoe whilst visiting New Zealand from her base in Athens, Varela was absolutely delighted to join the team at Shortland Street.

"Being involved in Shortland Street has been such a positive experience. Everything and everyone has been just great; from learning some sign language to communicate with my onscreen son Zaire Armstrong (Dallas Archer), my storylines, my new friends, and getting the opportunity to be part of the institution that is Shortland Street," says Varela.

When asked if she shares any similarities with her character, Varela says they both have a passion for healthy living.

"The fact I get to play a radical dietician with a strong message about the food we eat and the effect it has on our body is amazing," says Varela. "My friends and family will all be rolling their eyes through some of the scenes where Zoe is ranting and raving about eating the right food, as they've had to put up with it from me for years."

When Zoe returns to Shortland Street , it quickly becomes apparent that romance may be on the cards for her with Dr Chris Warner (Michal Galvin).

"The majority of my early scenes were with Michael, which was a godsend. His skill and experience made the fast turn-around shooting style seem less scary," says Varela.

When asked what her favourite scene to film so far has been, Varela remains tight lipped.

"If I shared that I'd be giving away some pretty juicy storyline secrets, so let's just say it's all been a joy...and leave it at that."


Read our Q and A with Gina here.

Catch Gina on-screen as Zoe in upcoming episodes of Shortland Street, weeknights 7pm TV2.

Missed an episode of Shortland Street? Watch it here for FREE plus read the full episode recap .