Naomi Rukavina is making waves as Dr Remi Varga-Murphy in the rebooted version of Neighbours.
The actress plays one of half of the Australian soap's first lesbian parents with co-star Sara West, who plays Cara Varga-Murphy, and their sons JJ (Riley Bryant) and Dex Varga-Murphy (Marley Williams). Being cast as part of a family in a mainstream show feels like a victory for the actress after she was previously told by TV bosses that they "couldn't see it".
She told The Guardian: "At one of my first castings for TV, an agent said to me, 'You’ll never really work on TV, because we can’t cast you in any family. We can’t see it.' I was so shocked. When I got the call the first thing I said to myself, to that casting guy all those years ago, was 'f**k yeah'. They don’t know the impact that a comment like that has. I’m a pretty robust human. It’s not an easy industry. And that has stuck so hard, like a little barb. I’m not just a look, I’m an actual person."
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Discussing how it feels to be making history on the show, Naomi added: "Feels bloody excellent Obviously, as an actor of colour, and as a queer actor for Sara, it’s really important to have real-life humans represented on our shows that go out internationally. We have this gorgeous little biracial, queer family. It’s really so heartening to have that representation come to such a loved show."
The Varga-Murphys are currently taking centre stage in a gripping storyline. Ramsay Street was locked off due to a HAZMAT emergency, but there was even bigger shock awaiting the family members. Remi is reeling having been put in a potentially life-threatening situation.
Having opened a letter in her living room, surrounded by her wife Cara nd sons JJ and Dex, Remi was horrified to not only receive a paper cut, but to become covered in white powder almost immediately after. Now, she’s on red alert. Ordering Cara to take the boys outside, Remi found herself grappling with the gravity of the situation.
Realising that the potential Anthrax is all over her open wound, Remi found herself alone, scared as she waited for the authorities to take the next steps. With the boys outside washing their faces and hands, Cara rushed to No. 26 to inform Andrew Rodwell (Lloyd Will) of the situation that has unfolded two doors up. Straight on the phone, the Sergeant called in the police, paramedics and Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) teams.
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As the street was cordoned off, Andrew approached the house, face covered and called out to check in on Remi. The chances of it being Anthrax are slim, he reassured her, but Remi wasn't taking any chances. After calming down, Cara urged Andrew to let her into the house to see her wife, but he blocked her.
With the powder gone, they waited with masks on to hear back from the testing. However, it’s not long before Cara, JJ, Dex and Andrew come bursting in – the tests came back and the powder was just baking soda.
New Neighbours episode are released on Amazon Freevee every Monday to Thursday from 7am
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