Angelina Thomson says she had a teary moment on her first day on the Home and Away set. Photo: SUPPLIED/22081218
Cook Islander Angelina Thomson’s dream of starring in the Australian television soap opera Home And Away has finally come true after she made her Summer Bay debut as Kirby, one of four newcomers who make up the band Lyrik.
Summer Bay newcomer Angelina Thomson once contemplated moving to New Zealand because she felt she might have more chance finding work here.
With a Cook Island Māori mum and an Australian dad, she says there were very few people who looked like her on television when she was growing up on the Gold Coast.
“Every night at 7pm my family would watch Home And Away,” she says, “and the little Gold Coast girl I was back then was like, ‘How do I do that? How do I get on Home And Away?’
“And now, however many years later at 26, I am on there. It’s a bit of a pinch-me moment. I won’t lie.”
It wasn’t until Home And Away cast its first Māori family, the Paratas, in 2019 that Thomson started to hope she might find her own place on the show.
“I remember seeing them and they had traditional names and they would say grace, and sing and speak Māori,” Thomson says.
“Before that, I’d thought I might need to move over to New Zealand for a little while and audition for things like Shortland Street.
“But now I feel really grateful that I can have that opportunity (in Australia), where I grew up.
“On my first day on set, I had a teary moment. I just started crying. I was like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. The dream is now the reality. I feel really, really blessed to be here’.”
She is also delighted that all her Auckland-based aunties will be able see her on TV.
“A lot of them have never seen me perform like this. They’ve only seen me do cultural stuff, so it’ll be special.”
Thomson made her Summer Bay debut as Kirby, one of four newcomers who make up the band Lyrik. Her band mates – lead singer Bob (Rob Mallett, House Husbands and Winners & Losers), guitarist Remi (Adam Rowland, Neighbours, Five Bedrooms) and Eden (Stephanie Panozzo, The Newsreader, My Life Is Murder) – are friends of Felicity’s and it quickly becomes apparent that Eden has history with Felicity’s (Jacqui Purvis) policeman brother Cash (Nicholas Cartwright).
It is the perfect gig for Thomson who, after graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium at Griffith University in 2016, has performed extensively on stage in musicals, including playing the role of Anita in West Side Story.
She made her television debut last year with a guest role on the drama Wakefield, working alongside a host of well-known Australian actors.
“I remember leaving that job and being like, ‘This is the beginning, Angelina. This is the beginning of something new’,” she says.
“I’ve always wanted to be versatile as a performer.
“At school I was in the funk band, I was playing saxophone and violin, I was in a dance troupe and I also did extracurricular dancing and performing in the school musicals when I could. I tried to be as versatile as possible.
“That’s what I want for my career. I know in this industry if you just try to stay in one box, it makes finding job opportunities more difficult.”
Ironically, Thomson was already well-acquainted with fellow newcomer Mallet, who plays Kirby’s arrogant boyfriend Bob.
“We’ve been friends for quite a few years and until recently I’ve been living with him and his wife. So when we both landed jobs on Home And Away, it was hilarious,” she says, adding as housemates the pair had spent hours putting self-tapes together.
“Now we’re on the Home And Away set playing boyfriend and girlfriend, it’s pretty surreal.
“When he called me to tell me he’d got the role, he was in the car with his wife and she said, ‘You’re going to have to kiss my husband’ and we all just shared a bit of a laugh.
“Then, when they got home, we all drank some champagne, then I got on the keyboard and he whipped the guitar out. We just straight away were just trying to get into it.”
Thomson says joining the drama as part of a group has been a special experience.
“On top of learning lines and the rehearsals for the scenes, we’ve been in rehearsals for the band and learning the songs that have been written specifically for us,” she says.
“It’s a massive change to our lives; it’s created a connection between us.”