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‘It was not represented anywhere’: Home and Away star Ada Nicodemou on growing up ‘different’

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The children’s book that Ada Nicodemou would have loved to read as a youngster has been written.

There were no TV series or books at the time that she could relate to as a Greek-Australian youngster growing up and dreaming big of being an actress.

The Home and Away star, who “loosely” draws from her biography, cultural upbringing, and ascent to fame, has added something fresh to the junior fiction market in Australia.

Her personal memories of her upbringing inspired her to create the Mia Megastar series, despite the project’s original goal of being a book to encourage young girls to treat one another with kindness.

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She tells 7NEWS.com.au, “I wanted to write a book about Greek culture and how I really got into acting.”

The book draws on her Greek roots and several unique cultural customs, while also touching on her acting path and inspiring readers to “follow their dreams.”

“It provides some understanding of my upbringing,” she adds of the first book in the series, which was released on Wednesday.

“I think it’s crucial to reflect Greek culture since, as a child, I suppose I even denigrated it a little bit because I didn’t know any Greek people, and you shouldn’t want to stand out from the crowd.

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It was never discussed on television or in literature.

“I think it’s fantastic that young children may now read this book and realise that Greek church is something we also practice.

“It’s a little education into Greek culture because there are people who don’t know anything about our culture.”

It also revisits one of the most significant occasions in Nicodemou’s life, which was when she and her Year 7 class attended a Sydney Theatre Company production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

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The future star was “blown away” from the moment she saw the performing arts for the first time.

“I recall thinking, ‘I have to complete this!'” I have no idea how.

Growing up in a migrant home with no acting connections in the Sydney suburb of Minto, Nicodemou thought it would be challenging to achieve her dream.

However, she was aware that “I have to be on stage somehow.”

Fans of Home and Away will also enjoy Mia Megastar’s work, as Nicodemou chuckles at the book’s “sort of pokes fun at Home and Away because the characters all love watching the show.”

Still, she was raised in a somewhat similar manner, having grown up as a huge admirer of Summer Bay as well.

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“Years ago, I attended a Home and Away audition. Recalling her adolescent years, she says, “I saw an ad to be a character on Home and Away, and I ended up getting like really far down into the audition process.”

That is also mentioned in passing throughout the book. I’m hoping that makes everyone chuckle a little.

However, Nicodemou’s career did not work out as that character, and she went on to play Leah Patterson, a position she has held since 2000.

Despite being a voracious reader, Nicodemou was initially apprehensive of penmanship.

However, she jumped at the chance to write a children’s book.

She was able to incorporate figures that drew inspiration from her brother, mother, and 11-year-old son Jonas.

“That was a lot of fun because it gave me a chance to remember my stories,” she recalls.

“I’m very proud of it; it’s a sweet tale.”

This book is the first of a planned trilogy, with a second and third due out in June and October 2024, respectively.

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