Stormin’ the Bay … Ethan Browne, Kawakawa Fox-Reo and Rob Kipa-Williams will star on Seven's Home And Away in 2020.
Stormin’ the Bay … Ethan Browne, Kawakawa Fox-Reo and Rob Kipa-Williams will star on Seven's Home And Away in 2020. Supplied

Home and Away’s shake-up in 2020

In the months before New Zealand actor, Rob Kipa-Williams won his role on Seven's Home And Away, he was resigned to a new career altogether.

Struggling with the fickle nature of an actor's life, the some-time construction worker had spent six months retraining as an accredited insurance salesman, in readiness to quit show business.

A year after finishing up on another Seven drama series, 800 Words, Kipa-Williams tells TV Guide/Watch he'd missed out on one audition too many and was ready to throw in the towel.

"I went through this phase in my life where I'd had a few disappointments, where I'd got really close to big roles and a few promised that didn't come through. I got to the point where I wasn't sure if [acting] was for me anymore … I just needed to focus on creating a more stable life," he says.

But just as he finished his sales training, Summer Bay came calling.

"I am actually still qualified," Kipa-Williams joked, "so anyone feel free to reach out if you need any advice on your health or life insurance."

Instead, he inked a three-year deal to play Ari Parata, the fiercely protective head of a Maori family who will make the Seven series - which airs after Neighbours and before local, soap Shortland Street - home in 2020.

Ari's arrival was not low-key, playing the hero when the local hospital is locked down during a violent siege.

 

Rob Kipa-Williams, Ethan Browne and Kawakawa Fox-Reo join Seven's Home & Away. Picture: Supplied/Seven
Rob Kipa-Williams, Ethan Browne and Kawakawa Fox-Reo join Seven's Home & Away. Picture: Supplied/Seven

 

But his character's backstory hints at more drama and tension ahead for the Parata clan - which includes NIDA graduate, Ethan Browne as his brother Tane and another NZ newcomer, Kawakawa Fox-Reo as his nephew Nikau.

"My character is working on a nearby construction site in Summer Bay and injures himself at work. That's how he finds himself at the hospital and sitting next to Marilyn (Emily Symons), who is having a panic attack [during the siege]. I comfort her the way that I can, but for Ari, it's not his first rodeo when it comes to having danger around him."

The more experienced of the three Maori actors has taken a fatherly role with his younger co-stars, but admits he was still star struck at meeting the Bay's patriarch, 'Alf' (Ray Meagher).

"The first scene I did with Ray I actually met him at the same time in real life. I got one of the make-up team to video the screen so I had it on record … it was a big deal."

For Browne, scoring his first TV role on Home And Away is a thrill for his family of fans.

"My grandmother and mum would watch it quite a bit … still do and now even more so. Grandma Minna is a massive fan and she couldn't believe I got the job," Browne said.

She may want to brace herself for what's ahead, with his character's brief a saucy one, with notes like "most likely to be drunk and disorderly" and "most likely to bring home a different partner every week."

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Ethan Browne, Kawakawa Fox-Reo and Rob Kipa-Williams will star on Seven's Home & Away in 2020. Picture: Supplied
Ethan Browne, Kawakawa Fox-Reo and Rob Kipa-Williams will star on Seven's Home & Away in 2020. Picture: Supplied

 

Browne laughs: "he certainly is a mischief maker, the cheeky brother and quite free-spirited. But deep down he's family-orientated and all he wants to do is take care of them and keep them all together."

Fox-Reo, 22, knows all about family love, a self-confessed mummy's boy who has been suffering terrible home sickness since flying to Sydney to start filming.

"I am a hard out mumma's boy," he says, of mum Sarah. "She's always been so supportive, no matter what I do. I remember trying lots of things at school and she always tried her best to uplift me … you know … what mums do."

His job offer on the Channel 7 series proved a crossroads for the young star, who had to give up his place at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.

"I'd gone to a drama school in Wellington and finished up there, but I was talking to a friend of mine who had gone to drama school in LA and wouldn't stop singing its praises. I applied and got in but three months later this role came up."

Seeking counsel from his parents, Fox-Reo made the decision to trek across the Tasman instead of head to Hollywood just yet.

"[LA] is not going anywhere and an opportunity like this doesn't come along every day."

All three proud Maoris have worked closely with Home And Away's writing team to make sure they make the family authentic.

As Fox-Reo says: "My desire and my wish is that when people watch it back home, they see a world that's real familiar to them - how we treat each other as a family, our sense of humour. I've tried my best to integrate as much of my upbringing into this character and hopefully people back home like it."

 

* Home And Away returns 7pm, Monday, January 27 on Seven

 

FACES TO WATCH IN 2020

 

ZOE TERAKES

EARNING a place in the final season of Wentworth says something of Zoe Terakes' talent and the impression the young actor has made on the local industry just two years out of high school. Before Terakes had even graduated, the 19-year-old was starring opposite Marta Dusseldorp in ABC legal drama, Janet King; before following her on stage for a season of A Doll's House for the Melbourne Theatre Company. Terakes, who identifies as non-binary, will play transgender prisoner, Rebel 'Reb' Keane.

 

Zoe Terakes will star in the final season of Foxtel drama series, Wentworth. Picture: Supplied
Zoe Terakes will star in the final season of Foxtel drama series, Wentworth. Picture: Supplied

 

 

ROBERT TRIPOLINO

GRADUATING from the Victorian College of the Arts back in 2011, Geelong-born Robert Tripolino quickly added a few TV credits to his resume - including Mr and Mrs Murder (starring Kat Stewart and Shaun Micallef) and ABC comedy, Upper Middle Bogan. But it's his latest role on London's West End, playing the lead in The Barbican's production of Jesus Christ Superstar that has put him firmly back on the radar of casting agents again. The 29-year-old is also a talented producer and composer.

 

Robert Tripolino is a face to watch in 2020. Picture: Supplied
Robert Tripolino is a face to watch in 2020. Picture: Supplied

 

 

CHARLOTTE FRIELS

PART of the 2019 graduating class of NIDA, alongside Ethan Browne (pictured opposite/below), Charlotte Friels is a name - and talent - that stands out from the crowd. The daughter of actors Judy Davis (Mystery Road) and Colin Friels (The Secret Daughter) has been immersed in the arts from birth. But after dropping out of her studies at the University of Sydney just two weeks into the degree, a holiday to London sparked a passion for theatre that brought her home and set her on a new career path.

 

Charlotte Friels is a face to watch in 2020. Picture: Supplied/Patrick Boland
Charlotte Friels is a face to watch in 2020. Picture: Supplied/Patrick Boland

 

 

 

EARL CAVE

THE 19-year-old son of musician and actor Nick Cave and fashion designer Susie Bick has already found his way into TV shows, Born To Kill and The End of the F*cking World. But it's his next credit, in The True History of the Kelly Gang - starring Russell Crowe, Charlie Hunnam, Essie Davies, Claudia Karvan and Nicholas Hoult - that will declare his mesmeric talent to the world. Throwing himself into the role, he followed director Justin Kurzel's instruction to bond with his Kelly gang co-stars by forming a punk band.

 

 

Earl Cave, the actor son of Nick Cave and Susie Bicks, stars in Stan drama series, The True History of the Kelly Gang. Picture: Supplied/Stan
Earl Cave, the actor son of Nick Cave and Susie Bicks, stars in Stan drama series, The True History of the Kelly Gang. Picture: Supplied/Stan

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