Johannesburg, South Africa
Tammin Sursok is a South African-born Australian actress and singer. She is known for her roles on television as Dani Sutherland on Home and Away, Colleen Carlton on The Young and the Restless, and Jenna Marshall on Pretty Little Liars.
Sursok was born to Daryl and Julie Sursok in Johannesburg, South Africa. When she was four, her family immigrated to Sydney, Australia. Her mother, Julie, is a classically trained pianist and guitarist. As a result, Sursok was brought up surrounded by music. Early on, Sursok was involved with the Sydney Youth Musical Theatre where she pursued her interests in acting, music, and dance. She also studied at the Trinity Speech and Drama College. Sursok was educated at Ravenswood School for Girls, in Gordon, Sydney, studying speech and drama in her final years of school.
In 1999, after completing year 10, Sursok acquired an agent and landed her first audition for a role in the long-running Australian drama series Home and Away. She was cast in the role of Dani Sutherland, the rebellious eldest daughter of the Sutherland family who took over the running of the Caravan Park. The actress considered herself lucky to get the part, calling the experience "incredible". In an interview with TeenHollywood she stated, "It was my first audition, so I thought it always worked like that, and you always get your first audition, but that is not the case." Sursok's performance in the role earned her a win for the Logie Award for Most Popular New Female Talent beating out Caroline Craig, Madeleine West and Karina Brown. Sursok's performance earned her a nomination for the Logie Award for Most Popular Actress, losing out to McLeod's Daughters star Lisa Chappell.
Sursok left Home and Away in 2004 so that she could pursue a music career, and acting opportunities, in the United States. "I'm 21 and it's time to be more creative. It is scary, but I had to leave before I became stale." In 2004, Sursok acknowledged that she was signed to Sony BMG Music Entertainment, confirming reports that recording for her debut studio album had begun.
Sursok's solo album, Whatever Will Be, was released on 22 May 2005, under Sony Music Entertainment with songwriters Savan Kotecha, David Kreuger, Marion Raven, Steve Booker; and producers John Shanks, Per Mangusson and David Kreuger. Whatever Will Be made its debut on the ARIA Albums Chart at number thirteen. During its second week on the charts, it remained at its peak position of #13; however, during its third week, it had a significant drop by 23 spots, landing the album at No. 36. During its fourth week, it fell further landing at No. 43. It ended its run on 20 June, falling completely off the charts and has not charted since. The album's lead single, "Pointless Relationship", debuted on the ARIA Singles Chart at No. 7 before peaking at No. 5, spending 15 weeks on the charts. Upon the song's release, it quickly shot to No. 1 on the Australian Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart, becoming the highest charting debut single in years. "Pointless Relationship" certified Platinum in Australia. The second single, "Whatever Will Be", debuted at No. 13 on the ARIA Singles Chart and spent a total of 18 weeks on the charts. "Whatever Will Be" was the 98th best-selling single of 2005 in Australia. The third and final single off Whatever Will Be, "It's a Beautiful Thing", quickly debuted on the ARIA Singles chart at No. 30. The song peaked at No. 6, spending 12 weeks on the charts. "It's a Beautiful Thing" became the second most downloaded song in its debut week, after Rob Thomas's "This Is How a Heart Breaks". It also peaked at No. 49 on the Australian Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart, becoming her lowest charting single.
After the success of her album, Whatever Will Be, plans were made to launch Sursok in the UK, but these unexpectedly fell through due to changes at her record label. The title track, "Whatever Will Be", was covered by Vanessa Hudgens for her RIAA-certified debut album, V.
After her UK plans fell through, Sursok relocated from Australia to Los Angeles, California in 2006 in order to concentrate on her acting career. That same year, she made her film debut in a bit role in the film Aquamarine.
In 2007, after a successful audition, Sursok became the third actress to portray Colleen Carlton on the American soap opera television series, The Young and the Restless. Her debut was quickly met with criticism from a number of The Young and the Restless viewers. Despite the negativity, she received comparable positive viewer feedback. "The fans have been really great." In preparation for the role, Sursok tried to catch up on Colleen's history. "I watched the last six months of episodes," she said. "My boyfriend used to date a girl who was obsessed with Y&R, so he knew everything about it and brought me up to speed, as well." Sursok earned a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Colleen the following year. After two years in the role, Sursok departed causing the writers to kill off Colleen. In an interview with Soap Opera Digest in October 2009, Sursok said it was difficult to pursue outside projects and appear on The Young and the Restless as well. Her departure was a mutual decision between Sursok and the showrunners.
In 2009, Sursok starred in the Nickelodeon made-for-television musical film Spectacular!. She portrayed the role of Courtney, the lead singer in a high school choir, Spectacular, which is fading in popularity. Courtney convinces a troubled, aspiring musician to joining the choir in an attempt to regain their popularity. Sursok recorded over three tracks for the film's soundtrack, which debuted at No. 44 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The film premiered on 16 February 2009, to over 3.7 million viewers and received mixed reviews from critics. The soundtrack, recorded in 2008, was released on 3 February 2009. Sursok appeared on seven songs on the album, including two solos. The soundtrack peaked at number 44 on the Billboard 200.
From July 2010 to January 2011, Sursok had a recurring role on the Disney Channel Original Series Hannah Montana. She appeared in eight episodes. In 2010, Sursok was cast in ABC Family's planned television adaptation of the Sara Shepard teen mystery book series, Pretty Little Liars. Sursok was cast as Jenna Marshall, a teenage girl who is left blind after a prank gone wrong. The series premiered in June that same year to over 2.47 million viewers. The role is Sursok's most well-known internationally. In June 2013, Sursok announced that she would continue her role as Jenna through her pregnancy.
She played Sarah Corso in the indie film Driving By Braille, directed by Kristina Lloyd and written by Richard H. Moon, released on DVD in May 2013. The story tells of a young woman who relives childhood trauma when she senses her boyfriend is about to propose, and who must sort through the crippling fear and doubt that is holding her back before her past destroys the couple's future.
In 2014, after several reports of Sursok indicating she was returning to music, she released a collaboration with singer Joe Brooks, covering "Say Something" made famous by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera.
On 24 August 2011, Sursok married her boyfriend, actor, producer, and director Sean McEwen, in Florence, Italy. Sursok signed an exclusive deal with the Australian magazine Woman's Day to publish the couple's wedding photos In April 2013, Sursok revealed that her movie Sleeping Around was filmed in the middle of her wedding. The couple have two daughters, born in October 2013 and January 2019. Sursok also has three dogs.
On 16 March 2016, Sursok posted a photo of herself as an adolescent on Instagram and revealed that she had been bullied because of her weight. The post was part of her #ThisIsBeautiful hashtag campaign which aims to empower people and change the message around beauty standards. The accompanying post read:
For all of you being bullied out there. This is me. Growing up I was overweight and spent most of my adolescence being bullied because of it. I definitely wasn’t the popular girl, but it didn’t define me. You can be ANYTHING you want to be in your life. It’s your choice which path you take. Don’t let other people’s words give you your self-worth. You are beautiful. I was beautiful. It just took me a long time to love myself. #thisisbeautiful
|2010||Flicka 2||Carrie McLaughlin||Direct-to-video film|
|2013||Driving by Braille||Sarah Corso||Direct-to-video film|
|2013||10 Rules for Sleeping Around||Kate Oliver|
|2019||Braking for Whales||Star Walker||Also writer and producer|
|2000–2004||Home and Away||Dani Sutherland||Regular role; 297 episodes|
|2007||Rules of Engagement||Woman||Episode: "Game On"|
|2007–2009||The Young and the Restless||Colleen Carlton||Regular role, 165 episodes|
|2008||In Plain Sight||Nicole||Episode: Pilot|
|2009||Spectacular!||Courtney||Nickelodeon Original Movie|
|2010–2011||Hannah Montana||Siena||Recurring role (season 4); 8 episodes|
|2010–2017||Pretty Little Liars||Jenna Marshall||Recurring role (seasons 1–5, 7)|
|2012||Airship Dracula||Amelia||Television miniseries|
|2015||Bound & Babysitting||Maggie||Television movie|
|2016||You May Now Kill the Bride||Audrey||Television movie|
|2016||Girlfriends of Christmas Past||Livvy Beal||Television movie|
|2019||My Killer Client||Christa Bright||Television movie|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Whatever Will Be||
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Pointless Relationship"||2004||5||Whatever Will Be|
|"Whatever Will Be"||2005||13|
|"It's a Beautiful Thing"||30|
(with Joe Brooks)
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.|
|"Eye of the Tiger"||2010||Spectacular! Cast||Music from Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore|
|"Whatever Will Be"||2005|||
|"It's a Beautiful Thing"|||
|"Till My Heart Stops Beating"||2013||Joe Brooks|||
|2001||Logie Award||Most Popular New Female Talent||Home and Away||Won|||
|2004||Logie Award||Most Popular Actress||Home and Away||Nominated|
|2008||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series||The Young and the Restless||Nominated|
|2013||New York Film Festival||Best Actress in a Leading Role||10 Rules for Sleeping Around||Nominated|||