Ada Nicodemou is a very familiar face – especially if you’re a Home and Away fan – but this humble star flies under the celebrity radar.
Ada Nicodemou lives a double life. But rather than worrying about them colliding and causing any dramas, she’d love to keep both seamlessly streaming along. She has two families she adores. One with her partner, businessman Adam Rigby, and her seven-year-old son Johnas. And another with the cast and crew of Home and Away. This year marks 20 years that Ada has been a lead actor in the world-renowned soapie, and she’d be happy to keep working on the show for the rest of her life.
The dream job
“I’m so blessed to work with such lovely people,” she says. “It’s what makes me get up every day, knowing that I’m going to see my second family. That’s the truth. We work crazy hours, but we are always laughing on set, having a great old time. I have no burning desire to go off and become a movie star like some actors dream of because I have an amazing life here. I love Australia. I’ve worked 46-48 weeks of the year for the past 20 years and as an actor that’s remarkable. I don’t take that for granted.I still feel challenged by the new storylines and I love the work. When it comes down to it, I want to raise my son here and my main focus is my family.”
Ada Nicodemou grew up with hard-working migrant parents; both Greek Cypriots who met in Australia. Their values and approach to work were instilled in both Ada and her younger brother.
“We were always up early and there was not a lot of time to play growing up,” she recalls. “Even as young kids we’d cook, clean, get ourselves off to school. We were taught how to take care of ourselves. Now I have more balance in my life and my job gives me time to get away and travel – which is my big passion. I always say to friends, ‘Everything is okay if I have a holiday booked!’”
Ada, the gourmet traveller
Ada’s love of Australia spans far and wide. “We are so lucky to live in a country like this. There is such a diversity of amazing destinations,” she says. “I love Queensland and some of my favourite parts of the state are up around Cairns and all the way up to Cape Tribulation. Western Australia is amazing – its beaches are incredible, and I just love Melbourne for the food and short weekends away. We recently went to Mudgee for the weekend and our focus was on great company and amazing wine. As we glamped we were outside, immersed in nature. So many people save up to go overseas but we have so much right here.”
Being Greek, food and family are a part of Ada’s DNA. “Oh my goodness, I am such a foodie!” Ada laughs. “I love eating and its usually the focus of my travel. I just follow my palate. We have the best seafood in the world in Australia and I can eat shellfish and crab all day every day.”
Ada and her family have been emotionally affected by the fires and now floods that have impacted so many communities in Australia. They intend to hit the road as much as possible to help out. “We love the Blue Mountains and visit there often,” she says. “What has happened in so many areas is just devastating. On our next weekend away, we plan to spend a whole lot of money in an affected town, buying the produce and spending locally. We’ll be heading to the Sapphire Coast soon, and back to the Blue Mountains.”
When you work in media, social media is now a crucial part of what many define as success. These days it all seems to be about how many followers an actor has on Instagram, despite them being followed by viewers watching their shows every week on television.
“It’s really terrible!” Ada cries out. “So many people use social media to validate themselves and the lives they live. It’s becoming more and more common for young people to depend upon it. It wasn’t that way when we were kids. And being a mother too, it’s just awful to see how affected young people are by social media. My son is seven and we try not to talk about it when he’s around. We only allow him 20 minutes a day on games and things that we watch closely. In fact, the other day I posted a photo of myself from a photo shoot and he asked, ‘How many likes did you get?’ I was like, ‘Woah! You’re only seven – why are you even talking about it?’”
Ada Nicodemou has a lot to say on the subject, and thinks we need to champion change to help our youth. She believes we need to get back to being more honest. “All that posing and face tuning and retouching,” she says. “I’m crap with technology so I couldn’t do it properly even if I tried, but I try to be as natural as possible online, to set an example I guess. Sure, I put make-up on, but I try to be honest with my photos. I think that’s important because our lives are not always perfect. I don’t wake up looking like I’ve been in hair and make-up for hours, that’s for sure!”
Supporting Save Our Sons
Ada also supports the Save Our Sons organisation (saveoursons.org.au) which raises money and awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). “I went to a charity night 11 years ago to help raise money for DMD and I met a man – he was a train driver and the father of a child with this condition. I knew nothing about it, and learnt that night that it’s a muscle-wasting disease with a 100 per cent fatality rate. Children rarely make it past 18 years of age. He said to me, ‘Look, I just have to try and save my child.’ It was heartbreaking and his story really touched me so I decided to try and help. In the past decade they have come a long way. I encourage people to read up on it and donate if they can.”
The feeling you walk away with after meeting Ada Nicodemou is that she is humble and true to herself. She gives endless love, inspiration and a tonne of enthusiasm to those around her. She’s been a face and voice in many people’s lives for decades, but she is happy to fly under the radar and enjoy life (and all the delicious food that she can get her hands on). Even when it comes to acting awards, she’s really not that interested.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to be recognised for the work you do, but I don’t need an award to show me if I am doing a great job or not. Maybe that’s come with age. The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin and I don’t worry like I once did about what other people think. I just get on with the life I love.”