Laura Vazquez appeared as Home and Away’s Sarah Thompson from January 1993 to October 1994, later making guest appearances in 1995 and 2005. With Sarah’s final episodes recently being repeated on 7TWO, we caught up with Laura to hear about her time on the show.
Interview conducted by Dan in March 2016
How did you first get into acting – was there any history of it in the family and was it something you always wanted to do whilst growing up?
I went to a performing arts school and was approached by an acting agent to join their agency. I always loved acting, so I thought by getting an agent it would lead to more work and it did. No one in my family are in the entertainment industry, I am the first. Ever since I was a little girl I loved performing, singing, dancing and acting.
You actually appeared in Summer Bay long before Sarah did, how did your work as a H&A extra come about? Was it your first time on screen?
My agent sent me for extra work on Home and Away, it was actually a great way to see how it all worked behind the scenes. I had already done a Children’s TV show on the ABC called Australia Place, as well as commercials and a guest role on Police Rescue beforehand.
When you auditioned for Sarah did you meet many other actresses reading for the part? If so would we recognise any of them?
(asked by Golden Sands & Homeandawayfan.)
No I didn’t meet any of the other actresses, but I do know that Ada Nicodemou who now plays Leah auditioned and was up for the role of Sarah too.
How long did the audition process take and did you have to wait long before you learnt you’d won the role?
(asked by Golden Sands)
It was a long process as they were auditioning in other states too. I went through 3 rounds of auditions. The first with the casting agent, the second with the director and the 3rd and final process was with the Home and Away producer and I had to read opposite Tristan Bancks who played Tug on the show.
Were you given much information about Sarah’s background in order to prepare for the role?
I had a character breakdown, so I knew she was from the country and quite sheltered. She was a good girl who lived on the farm with her father. So I went in to the audition dressed quite conservatively with no makeup on, just a little gloss on my lips.
Did you have much input into Sarah’s character or wardrobe as time went by?
(asked by Golden Sands)
No not really, do you really think I would wear those clothes in real life? Lol
Are there any particular scenes or storylines which you most enjoyed filming?
I loved the storyline when Sarah had a bit of a makeover and went to a nightclub with Angel. That was fun to film. Melissa George and I always had a great time on set.
Were there any moments that you didn’t enjoy so much, or perhaps thought were too out of character?
Not at all, every storyline I was given made sense for the character of Sarah.
Sarah has been remembered as a very sensible character, though she let her guard down when she became involved with Nathan Roberts. What was it like to work with David Dixon and did you enjoy Sarah’s bout of rebellion?
(asked by Merino5)
It was a lot of fun to play out. Sarah was always such a goody two shoes, so being able to play her out as being rebellious was a challenge and I had fun with it. David Dixon was great, it was good to have someone from out of the show come in to play that character.
You played a big part in the famous ‘Summer Bay Musical’ episode – what are your memories of filming the episode and did you provide your own vocals?
I had a ball filming that episode and yes I was lucky enough to record my own vocals. I was the only cast member that got to use my real vocals.
The younger cast members—Dieter (Shane), Melissa (Angel), Tristan (Tug), Matt (Damian), Tina (Finlay) and I—always had a great time on set as we were all good friends off set, so it was like going to work everyday and working with your best mates. It was always a laugh. Once we got into so much trouble because we got into fits of giggles on set and we couldn’t stop.
Tug & Sarah had quite an unstable on/off relationship, before Sarah ultimately decided they should be nothing more than friends. What were your feelings on their relationship at the time?
I thought it was an obvious choice to put the good girl and bad boy together, Tristan and I worked well together and I thought that came across on screen. I liked that Sarah and Tug had an on and off again relationship, as it gave us more to work with as actors.
The show took a surprisingly dark twist with Tug’s downward spiral – following his split with Sarah and his father’s deception – which led to his suicide attempt. Was it challenging to take part in such a serious storyline?
It was challenging, and I thought the writers did a great job with the storyline. It’s always great to get a storyline you can sink your teeth into and this was one of them.
Are there any stories you wish your character could have had, which ultimately didn’t happen?
(asked by Golden Sands)
I would have loved to have a long-lost brother or sister come into the show, maybe a love child my father had before me. My father was quite strict and religious, so to tackle finding out what a hypocrite he was and that he had lied to me all these years, that would have been great 🙂
Speaking of Sarah’s father, Matthew Thompson, we sadly lost the talent of actor & writer Jeff Truman in 2014. What are your memories of working with Jeff?
Jeff was an absolute joy to work with. He always made me feel comfortable and I felt we had a great connection playing father and daughter. I know his wife, Julie Money, and was with her a couple of weeks ago doing her makeup for a photoshoot. She also directs on Home and Away. It’s lovely to be able to share stories with her about Jeff.
What was your opinion on Sarah & Damian’s friendship? Do you think it could have developed further if they’d stuck around?
(asked by Red Ranger 1)
Sarah and Damian I thought were great friends, I think he had a soft spot for Sarah, but Sarah just thought of him as a brother more than a boyfriend. So I don’t think a relationship between the two of them would have worked for the show.
What was wrong with the perm Sarah got? I thought it looked good!
(asked by Merino5)
LOL!! No it didn’t!! I hated that perm, but it was fun doing it for that storyline.
Was it your decision to leave the show or was it decided that the character had run her course?
The character had definitely run its course. They were bringing a lot of new younger cast members and I think the writers didn’t really know what to do with the character of Sarah. So I had a discussion with the producers and they decided it was time for Sarah to say goodbye.
TV WEEK claimed that yourself, Tristan, John Adam (Luke) and Lisa Lackey (Roxy) only learnt of your characters being written out after reading about it in their magazine – was there any truth to this?
The story that came out in TV WEEK was untrue, it made out that we were all skating on thin ice, claiming we were causing trouble and that they wanted to get rid of us because of it. I had no trouble on my time on the show, I had a wonderful time on there, and I don’t think the producers would ask me to come back twice after that if there was any truth to it. The decision to leave was made between myself and the producers. So it was hurtful when that article came out.
Sarah had the unenviable task of facing an angry Alf Stewart in her final episodes. When Alf shouted at Sarah for almost causing him to run over Duncan, was it scary? Did Ray apologise to you afterwards?
(asked by Tania from the Official Home and Away Tour)
The episode was an emotional one for me as it was my final scenes on the show. So that was on my mind most of the time, that it was close to saying goodbye to my second family. It wasn’t scary filming those scenes and Ray didn’t have to apologise as it’s just acting and we all know that. I loved working with Ray and Judy (Ailsa), they were so supportive and so professional and I really learnt a lot from them.
Were you happy with Sarah’s exit from the show? It seemed a little bitter with Sarah and Alf having fallen out.
(asked by beau_t)
I felt that too. I wished that Sarah and Alf could have had a moment where they hugged and made up. I felt Sarah looked up to Alf as a sort of father figure and it was kind of sad that they didn’t have a final scene where they made up, that would have been nice I think.
We learnt in later years that Sarah & Tug had married off-screen and had at least two children – do you think this was a natural and believable development for their relationship?
(asked by beau_t)
Yes I think it’s believable, Tug and Sarah always had feelings for one another, so with him being on the farm and Sarah going back there, I think as time went on they would have realised that they were meant for one another. I guess if both of the characters stayed on the show, they would have written it into the show that they get married and have kids. We could have fostered new kids too 🙂
What would you like to think that Tug & Sarah are getting up to off-screen?
I think they would be happily living on the farm with their kids — Tug still works with Sarah’s dad and Sarah is a stay at home mum who home schools her children and has a successful cake making business 🙂
Matt Doran and yourself returned in 1995 for Shane & Angel’s wedding, which became possibly the most famous wedding in the show’s history. Was this return planned when you departed?
(asked by Dan from Runcorn, UK & beau_t)
Yes it was planned, Angel and Sarah were best friends so it would be an obvious choice for Sarah to be her Bridesmaid and for Damian to be Shane’s best man. It was so much fun to film and to be a part of H&A history. I would have been upset if they hadn’t asked me to come back.
10 years later, Sarah made a surprise return in Episode 4000 for Alf Stewart’s 60th birthday, how did this come about and how did it feel to return after all that time?
The producer of the show called up my agent to ask if I would take part in the 4000th episode. When I heard it would be for Alf’s 60th I jumped at the chance, especially as it was great closure for the relationship between Alf and Sarah and showed there were no hard feelings between them. It was wonderful coming back to the show after so many years and seeing so many familiar faces. I had a lot of fun catching up with everyone and also meeting a lot of the new cast members at the time, like Chris Hemsworth and Bec Hewitt who were both so lovely.
Many fans were disappointed that Sarah didn’t speak in Episode 4000. In the original script however, there was intended to be a short scene where Sarah spoke of recently visiting Angel & Simon in the US. Was this ever filmed or had it already been cut before it reached the studio?
That’s nice to know, I too was a little disappointed when that little conversation with Alf was cut out. I do understand it was a very busy episode so they needed to get a lot into a short amount of time. But it was still lovely to be included in such an important episode.
Do you still keep in touch with any of your former H&A castmates and have there been any lasting friendships?
(asked by Kayla from Tasmania, John & myken)
Yes I do keep in touch with a lot of my former castmates, with things like Facebook it’s so much easier to touch base with everyone as they are overseas or interstate. I was closest to all the younger cast who I still keep in touch with. Melissa George, Tina Thomsen and Lisa Lackey were my best girlfriends on the show, and now when we talk to each other it’s usually about motherhood as we have all become mums. It’s lovely that after all these years they still remain part of my life. I’ve also caught up with Kate Ritchie a couple of times to do her makeup. She was younger than all of us when we were on the show. So now it’s nice when I see her and we reminisce about our time on the show.
If you could have played any other character in the show, who would you have chosen?
(asked by Rachel)
I think Sarah suited me, I couldn’t see myself playing anyone else.
Would you ever be willing to return to Home and Away as Sarah, either in a regular or guest role?
(asked by Dan from Runcorn, UK – David from SA – Merino5 – j.laur5 & myken)
Never say never 🙂 If the storyline was good and I was available for it, then why not. I only have wonderful memories from my time on the show, and Home and Away has only gone from strength to strength.
If Tug & Sarah were to return to Summer Bay in one form or another, what sort of storyline would you like to see bring them back?
(asked by John)
Maybe one of their kids has grown up and decides they want to go to the school their mum and dad went to, Summer Bay High, so Tug and Sarah decide to bring them to the bay. Their son/daughter then becomes one of the regulars on the show. It could evolve into a whole new storyline.
What other acting roles did you have after leaving H&A?
I went on to film an American telemovie called The Beast with CSI actor William Peterson, I also got cast as a semi-regular on American TV series The Lost World which was filmed on the Gold Coast. I had guest roles on American TV series Flipper and Beastmaster and also cast in the Theatre production of Dags. I also did 2 guest roles on Australian TV show All Saints.
I also did commercials for Dettol, Dolmio, Liptons Tea, McDonalds, Splenda, Nestlé, and Ski Yoghurt and presented a beauty segment on Channel 10’s The Circle. I also spent a year in the UK presenting shows It’s Just Not Saturday, Not Fade Away, The Essential Guide to Summer and The Games Room.
Since then you’ve taken a slightly different career path…
I had always been interested in makeup and hair as my mother was a hairdresser and owned her own beauty salon. So I spent most of my days in the salon watching my mother glamming women up. Being in the entertainment industry and spending a lot of time in the makeup chair, I learnt quite a bit and always took interest in it.
I never gave up acting, but once I had children I just wanted to create work for myself. So with the help of my husband we created Beautiful Girl Makeup by Laura Vazquez. Being an actress and public figure, I thought I’d use that and turn it into a brand. I began blogging about beauty products, and interviewing celebrities on their beauty secrets and tips. I also did training in makeup and hair and I absolutely loved it.
I now work for Channel 7 and 9 as well as with many celebrities for red carpet events. I’ve also been working with a lot of Sony Music artists on their Music Videos and photo shoots. I have a great following on my social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and people can see an insight of my days and what I get up to—whether it be a makeup and hair look I’ve created, a blog I’ve written, or a celebrity I have made up for the red carpet. I always include throwbacks on my time on Home and Away on there too.
Many won’t realise this, but you’ve also made a sneaky return to Summer Bay too…
I sure have, I have been working on Home and Away as a freelance Hair/Makeup Artist since last year. I enjoy working on the show as it feels like going back home. There are still so many crew members I use to work with back in the day, so its always lovely to see their faces. The cast of today are fantastic. And it’s always great to see Ray and Lynne (Irene) who I worked with back on my time on the show. It’s really nice to be behind the scenes and see how hard everyone one works to put the show together.
Away from your career, what else have you been up to over the years?
The most wonderful thing I have been up to over the years is becoming a wife and a mother 🙂 I have an amazing and supportive husband. Not many people know this, but he is known as ‘KG’ — lead singer of UK band MN8 (of I’ve Got a Little Something For You fame).
We have 2 beautiful little girls who are our pride and joy. And I must say, motherhood has got to be the best job I have ever had.
Favourite Holiday Destination?
A French film called Priceless
Mid 80’s-Mid 90’s Old School RnB
I love autobiographies
Olives, cheese, crackers and dip
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