Gabrielle Miller might not be a household name, but she is most certainly a household face and voice.
Known to just about everyone in Aotearoa as 'the Trivago girl', like the rest of us, Gabrielle's life has changed dramatically due to COVID-19, but not all of her life changes were down to the pandemic. Miller recently announced she was pregnant.
She said she found it "confronting" when the world "suddenly stopped" due to the pandemic.
"I had been dreaming of a slower pace with less flying, as I have been running on overdrive over recent years, juggling projects, travelling, freelancing and performing," Miller said of her time when she was based in Germany.
"My summers were filled with leapfrogging around Europe to play at festivals, squeezing in tight filming schedules or performing on the stages of epic theatres," she told Newshub.
"Although I miss this lifestyle and look forward to it commencing again, it has been a much needed break."
The sudden stillness of the world brought with it a realisation and a change in direction for Miller.
"It made me realise how much of my identity and self-worth was entangled in my work," she said.
"Lockdown has given me an opportunity to grow in ways I wouldn't have otherwise experienced.
"It's forced me to let go of my constant striving for perfection and success, stripping away the layers I believed gave me value."
Her busy lifestyle has been replaced by one of a much slower pace, and the things she values have changed too.
During lockdown she spent her time gardening with family, taking part in online workshops and developing her acting skills. Nowadays she is preparing for motherhood as well as working on some Australian-based projects as she looks forward to the world opening up again.
While she won't be returning to our screens for Trivago, Miller said it was odd being recognised all over the world when she was the face of the popular travel brand.
"As it was an international campaign, I got recognised all over the world in all kinds of obscure situations. It was strange being in London when unbeknownst to me I was plastered in print advertisements all over the underground, buses and billboards," she said.
"I filmed some pranks in the underground where I popped out of the posters and scared people walking by and to the security guards' amusement, got caught vandalising my own face."
When local travel restrictions were eased, Gabrielle and her partner decked out their old van called 'Kevin' and went on a roadie to Cape Tribulation (a remote spot in Far North Queensland north of Port Douglas) which they both described as "gobsmacking".
"Normally I am based in Berlin but have been living back in Australia for the past 12 months. I was doing shows locally as the pandemic broke out and when all of my performances, tours and shoots abroad were cancelled or postponed, I decided it was best to stay home and close to family," she said.
While we may associate Millar with fancy hotels and five-star living, that's not how she's spent lockdown, and she's more than happy about that.
"I've been extremely lucky to spend the COVID-19 lockdown in rural Australia with fresh eggs, rainwater and lots of space around me. I know many artist and freelance friends living in tiny apartments without work and with minimal freedom or support. It has been a rough time for the world and I am so grateful to have been with my family and in nature during lockdown."
Gabrielle Miller's tips for getting through COVID-19:
- Even after restrictions ease, travel locally if possible
- Support local businesses. Many artists have been holding online concerts and workshops which offer amazing entertainment, escapism and made me realise it's easy to support my peers
- Reach out to those who you love or those who may need support
- I heard booking.com is great for finding hotels online *wink*
Of all the places she's been to, Miller has two favourites that she can't wait to visit again.
"I miss the midnight falafels and the Neverland appeal of Berlin to those in their mid-30s who don't want a mortgage," she said.
"And, I miss Bosnia, the people are inspiring. In the summer I perform at Javorwood Festival and in the winter I ski Bjelasnica mountain. A special place indeed!"
But those destinations are likely to stay on the to-do list for another year, with Gabrielle spending time on much bigger things - like her soon to be born baby.
"I have embarked on my latest role, the life-changing project of being a mum. And for the next little while I'll be doing a few local theatre, film and puppet productions here in Australia," she said.
"I've got a few fun collabs in the works, I've co-designed a collection of sunglasses with Fritz Frames, I've been art directing and filming some short videos and I am writing a television show for kids. We're also going to release a LP vinyl with my band Zap this year."
Miller went from being on our television screens during almost every ad break, to living the rural life with family and friends.
As she enters a new chapter in her life, she’s full of excitement for everything that lies ahead.
First, the journey of motherhood, then when COVID-19 finally becomes a thing of the past, Miller will be ready to spread her wings and get back to experiencing the world and working on new projects.
"I'd love to come to New Zealand for a project if anyone needs a tapdancing puppeteer or a role in their film?" she said.
For Gabrielle Miller, that would be five star living.