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Golden girl's secret

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Golden girl's secret: Reluctant star

Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Herald Sun, Sunday Mail

16 April 2006

Summer Bay's Ada Nicodemou is full of plans for life after acting

She's been a working actress for 13 years, has danced her way to further fame and is now in the running to win Australian television's highest accolade. Not a bad effort for someone who openly admits that show business is not her first passion.

Ada Nicodemou, rather like her Home And Away alter-ego Leah Patterson-Baker, is honest and approachable, a breath of fresh air in an often self-obsessed industry.

While she is excited about her Gold Logie nomination -- she will compete against John Wood, Rove McManus, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Kate Ritchie, Bec Hewitt and Bert Newton for the top gong -- she is also the first to admit her priorities remain off-set.

"Growing up, the Logie winners were people like Rowena Wallace, Bert Newton and Kylie Minogue, so it's pretty difficult to imagine myself in that category. I'm honoured," Nicodemou says.

"But career's not the main thing in my life. I think a lot of people get it wrong. Life should be about everything else in your life."

From another actor, such words could sound cocky. But from Nicodemou, they simply sound sincere, particularly when she quickly lists alternative professions.

"I can't say acting's my passion. I love doing it but, if it ended tomorrow, there's heaps of other things I wouldn't mind doing," she says.

"I'd love to run a deli or be a real estate agent or do events or be a mum.

"I love my job. I like where I'm at, but this is a silly and fickle industry to pursue for the rest of your life."

Nicodemou even struggles to admit she is an actor.

"I've been acting for 13 years now, but still don't see myself as an actor," she says.

Her healthy career suggests plenty of other people do.

From her 1991 appearance in Police Rescue to the memorable years with Drasic (Callan Mulvey), Anita (Lara Cox) and the Heartbreak High crew, to the forgettable and short-lived Breakers, to a role opposite Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, Nicodemou, 28, has maintained a highly visible profile.

And her career received a further boost with her triumphant turn on Seven's Dancing With The Stars.

But the instant recognition she enjoys is built mainly on the six years she has spent in Summer Bay.

Home And Away's fictitious beachside hamlet has given Nicodemou many memorable storylines, including her difficult marriage to Vinnie (Ryan Kwanten), her current battles with new partner Dan (Tim Campbell) and the tragic loss of their child.

This week is an especially busy one -- Leah's relationship with husband Dan (Tim Campbell) is in strife after a love triangle between the two of them and Dan's ex-wife, Amanda (Holly Brisley), ends abruptly. A devastated Leah confronts Dan about a divorce. Dan is left even more gutted when he catches Leah on a date with Hugh (special guest Rodger Corser).

Nicodemou admits she has been lucky with her workload.

"It's nice to turn up to work and have something to do, as opposed to just serving people milkshakes in the diner," she says.

"With such a large cast, you're not always going to have great storylines so it's great when one comes along and you can get stuck into it.

"But more than that, I'm proud of the work we all do on Home And Away.

"It is a soap and it is written, directed and acted at such a fast pace, with little time to perfect things. Given this, I think we do a really good job."

And the nation obviously agrees: Last year, Home And Away garnered one million-plus ratings nightly for Seven, easily beating the 7pm offerings from rival networks.

With her star continuing to rise, it would hardly be surprising if Nicodemou looked overseas for heightened fame.

But the actor has different ideas: "I could never leave Australia . I love the country too much, not to mention my family and friends."

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