AT Somerset College, a private school in the central Gold Coast suburbs, there’s a buzz in the air.
The 2018 Academy Award nominations have been announced and the Mudgeeraba school has scored some serious bragging rights.
Current Somerset drama students tell me that’s her biggest legacy: the knowledge that even without connections you can make it in the industry with a bit of grit and a lot of hard work.
Year 12 student and aspiring actor Sebastian Angliss-Li, 17, says Robbie is often a topic of conversation, particularly among those interested in the arts.
“She walked the same grounds that we now walk on,” he says.
“It sounds cliche but it really shows us that anything is possible if you chase your dreams.
“It’s really cool when we do (in-house) plays because she directed and starred in one when she was at Somerset. That comes up a lot and every year there’s jokes about it.
“She was in Andrews House, the yellow house.”
Deputy Principal Michael Brohier, who was working at the school while Robbie was a student, says she was “normal and well-adjusted”.
“Most of the current students wouldn’t remember her because she graduated 11 years ago but there are quite a few teachers she still stays in touch with or has as a friend on Facebook,” he says.
“When she got a role on Neighbours we were very proud … but the fact she’s come this far so soon is incredible. She’s in the upper echelon of actors in Hollywood.”
Mr Brohier says Robbie “never got into trouble” at school and had a big group of friends.
“We’ve always had a big arts program at Somerset and entrepenurship is a big focus for us,” he says.
“Margot was so smart about everything and had a real strategy for how she was going to make it.
“She was very good academically and took a range of subjects like Spanish and legal studies but it was drama where she shone.
“She was a very normal student and well-adjusted. She graduated with a really strong bunch in her cohort including some fantastic young women … it’s great to see they’re all still friends.”
The school, which has undergone extensive renovations in the past decade, is also opening a new performing arts centre.
“We’d love to get Margot out here to open the building,” Mr Brohier says.
“I believe she actually got in touch with her old Italian teacher (Mr Scott Ham) when she was nominated for the Academy Award, which is quite significant.
“We wish her the best of luck.”
Student Piper Nairn, 15, who has worked on professional sets including Pirates of the Caribbean and Mako Mermaids, says Robbie’s portrayal is “flawless”.
“I’ve been doing a lot of acting workshops like those that Margot did,” she says.
“In I, Tonya you can really tell how much she’s grown as an actress … her American accent is flawless
“I have an agent in America who helps me get auditions … you have to accept 1000 ‘nos’ before you get a yes. That’s what Margot taught us: you have to learn to accept rejection then one day you’ll get a yes.”