Natalie Bassingthwaighte on property, performing and Jagged Little Pill


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Performer and actress Natalie Bassingthwaighte is currently starring in Jagged Little Pill, the stage show starring the music of Alanis Morrissette.

In 2020, with everything locked down in the entertainment industry, Bassingthwaighte tried to look on the bright side, fortunate to have settled in Byron Bay with her family and new dog. After a run in the musical Chicago, she enjoyed having a break. However, for the past 18 months she says she has only managed to work for about three months.

She filmed the new Baz Lurhmann Elvis biopic, toured with the musical Chess, and recently filmed a program on mental health which will be released on ABC in 2022 - she credits this as being the most rewarding thing she's done.

natalie bassingthwaite

What was your first job?

My first job ever was working in a fish and chip shop in Wollongong. Then I worked at Brashes music store, and later for Wanted shoes, which I loved because I got discounted shoes.

My first big break in the industry was aged 23 in Rent the musical in the Theatre Royal in Sydney. It wasn't your typical musical - they wanted more rock people.

There were audition lineups outside Kinsellas and it took seven months for them to cast 22 people from around 600.

And this is what Jagged Little Pill (also at the Theatre Royal) reminds me of. Rent was very scary and confronting - it was about AIDS, they were not afraid to go there and deal with the realities of life.

What's the best money advice you've received?

It's one of the things I didn't do early enough but was encouraged by one girlfriend who invested in property at age 28. Her dad helped her with that.

Shortly afterwards, I invested in my first property. For me, property is something I enjoy.

I'm looking at properties all the time - in different areas. I currently own my home and an investment property in Melbourne. We've made good money after selling - and branching out.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

Again, it's property - the last home we bought and sold, and even the one we're in now in Byron, has gone gangbusters. We've gotten in at the right time.

My husband is into it and we've magically found the right place that has growth. We also have bonds and shares, but my husband takes care of that.

For me it's important to have a property because the industry is so uncertain.

When I was in my 20s, you'd get a job for a minute, spend the money, and then it would finish and I'd go into the pattern of  not knowing when the next job would come, so we put some of the money aside - such as for tax - because otherwise you might think you have more money than you actually have.

Even if you put a little bit aside each pay into mortgage, it's best in the long run by far.

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

The worst investment was also in property. We bought a property off-the-plan and I was so in love with the architect and architecture that I didn't do enough research.

It ended up being eight years of not being sure we've made enough money on it, which is disastrous in the long run. I would never buy off-the-plan again.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

I'm a real accessories person - I went off heels for a while and got into the Golden Goose brand of sneakers.  I recently bought myself a bag.

In Jagged Little Pill, I'm so fortunate I don't have to wear a heel at all - I'm either barefoot or in sneakers!

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

I would put it straight back into the house. We're doing bits and pieces to the house and loving it and if it grows in value we get to enjoy it as well.

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

I'd probably buy a really lovely chilli margarita for me and my husband and be 'cheers to that'.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

Yeah, absolutely.

What's been your best money-making career move?

Staying current and being true to yourself. I feel like you get to a certain point after kids, thinking no-one will employ me, and I've been so fortunate and had such brilliant work after children.

I've taken on things that are challenging and inspiring but keeping general health and wellbeing to a level that is really sustainable. I've maintained my work ethic and taken only what I love. It's by following your heart you can't go wrong.

Rent was the first [theatre] job I did, then Chicago, then Footloose and Grease. But I've had so many 'whoa' moments that have catapulted me through other areas.

Obviously when you get to be on TV - Neighbours - it is definitely a game-changer. Everyone knew my name and that was a different space and it was quite weird to be in that world. I'd done the biggest shows in musical theatre but the reach in TV was so much bigger.

I'm working for the next 12 months but it doesn't always work out like that - I'm just trying to work the best thing forward. My first priority is that it has to work with me and family.

Finish this sentence: money makes...

... the world go around unfortunately, or fortunately - that's the truth and I can't decide which.

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.