Tuesday, May 21, 2024

How Summer Bay helped Stephanie Panozzo and Angelina Thomson forge a wonderful friendship


‘It feels like home.’

After landing parts in 2022 on one of Australia’s most popular shows—Home and Away—without being able to return home or see their partners, Stephanie Panozzo and Angelina Thomson found themselves each other’s shoulder to weep on.

Angelina, 26, tells TV WEEK, “There have been a lot of occasions in the last two years where I’ve come to work, seen Steph, and just bawled my eyes out while she’s held me, and we’ve cried in each other’s arms.” As we are travelling vast distances together, we have that common experience.

The 29-year-old Stephanie continues, “It’s a rollercoaster, and I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do solo.”


Both of their real-life characters, Eden (Stephanie) and Kirby (Angelina), are talented musicians who play in the four-piece rock band Lyrik.

“When we’re on set, the bond over music really brings us all together,” says Angelina. Whenever they’re setting up new scenarios, we all jam in between songs. Steph and I will begin to sing after someone picks up a guitar. Our shared affinity for music unites us.

Despite having similar characteristics when they first appeared on the programme, the two have separate narratives and romantic interests, which occasionally drives the Bay closest friends apart.

Steph explains, “Our plot started together, and then we kind of got split. I dated Cash [Nicholas Cartwright], and Kirby dated Theo [Matt Evans]. It made me feel sad because I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, what if Angie and I ever part ways?’ But it always seems like home when we get back together.”


It should come as no surprise that Eden and Kirby, two of Summer Bay’s cool girls, have dated and been admired by men. Fortunately, the girls’ real-life boyfriends haven’t been too put off when they’ve had to film personal sequences.

“There was a preliminary discussion regarding that, but dating an actor kind of implies that those scenes could happen,” Stephanie says. “But my significant other was fairly understanding.”

“You know there’s nothing romantic about it on set,” Angelina continues. “The love scene is really well-choreographed. You need your hair here, an arm here. Everything is well-planned; it resembles a dance. It’s not what you expect, because there are 15 to 20 crew members waiting around and an intimacy coordinator to ensure everyone’s safety.

Together, the bubbly Stephanie from Melbourne and the Cook Islands-born Angelina spend their free time eating açaí bowls and taking goofy pictures on Coogee Beach in Sydney’s east, appreciating the stunning surroundings and feeling appreciative to be a part of the Home And Away legacy.


“In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the legacy or the fact that I’m a part of this enormous thing that I’ve wanted for so long, I tried at first to not even acknowledge I was on the show,” Angelina explains.

After settling in, though, the women enjoy strolling around the Channel Seven set, appreciating how far their careers have gone and enjoying their dream occupations.

“It seems unreal,” Steph remarks. “It’s a pleasant reminder that I’m doing the right thing when I see myself strolling around between scenes, in the pier diner, wearing my little dressing gown with my name on it. This was such a big dream before I came here.”

After growing up as a show enthusiast, Angelina took some time to adjust to her new life after filming her first scene with Ray Meagher, who plays Bay mainstay Alf Stewart.

She says, “I remember trying to control my racing heart.” I was trying not to freak out since I was so anxious. I’m here among folks I grew up watching, like Emily Symons (Marilyn), Georgie Parker (Roo), and Ada Nicodemou (Leah).

Now that they know what they are capable of, the actresses have high expectations for themselves. However, they both aspire to eventually balance their love of performing with establishing a family, so that doesn’t necessarily relate to only their careers.


Stephanie remarks, “We’re fortunate to be surrounded by so many people who are doing both [having children and a career].” “It feels possible when you’re near it and can see it.”

“Building life is so important, but carers come and go,” asserts Angelina. “I really think that having children will teach me new strength and power within myself, and that some of the biggest, best, and most amazing things I’ll do in my career will be after kids.”

They don’t really care whether Hollywood is their goal; what matters to them most is making each other happy.

Steph says, “The world is our oyster.” “At Home And Away, I’m learning and developing so much, but I’m eager to see what comes next. I’m eager to travel this path with you, Angelina, even though I know it will be difficult. We have shared laughs and tears together, and I am really looking forward to seeing what you do next.

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