Kawakawa Fox-Reo has revealed the darker side of modelling has been a revelation to him after his Home and Away character Nikau Parata gets caught up in that world.
After being spotted by ruthless model agent Sienna Blake (Rose Riley), Nikau has gradually been lured into going against his own principles to find success in front of the camera.
“At first Nikau thought the idea of being a model was a bit of a joke – he likes the simple life,” Kawakawa commented.
“But Sienna understood from an early point what drives him – and the money part of the modelling is a large part of that.
“He’s never earned that amount of money before and he has a great deal of trust in Sienna. She abuses that trust. She knows what she’s doing – she’s been in that world for a long time.”
In a bid to keep Nik exactly where she wants him, Sienna pressures him to give his social media following a boost, hinting that he needs to up his ‘muscle appeal’.
Things also take a sinister turn after Sienna’s other protege, fellow model Allegra Freeman (Laura McDonald) handed Nikau an appetite suppressant to ‘help out’.
He becomes obsessed with working out as his ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ climb, leaving uncles Tane Parata (Ethan Browne) and Ari Parata (Rob Kipa-Williams) worried by an “unhealthy shift” in his attitude, shared Kawakawa.
Not only that, he's secretly skipping meals and despite promising girlfriend Bella Nixon (Courtney Miller) he'll throw away the vial of appetite suppressant, he keeps it.
“Nikau’s relationship with social media changes as he tries to become a version of himself that he thinks is more marketable,” he explained.
“The impression he gets from Sienna is that it’s a really important part of his career.”
“It’s an interesting part of modelling that I wouldn’t have known about before doing this story – the dark, unhealthy parts.
The young actor revealed he’s never done modelling himself but he insists that he can see how the impossible ideal that is presented online can be very damaging.
“If you portray yourself in a way that isn’t really the truth you become less and less authentic. It’s not a healthy way to be as a person and I think it’s quite toxic.”
“Younger people aspire to be exactly like what they see on the TV, or internet, or especially on social media.
“If you’re presented with an unreal way of being, lots of kids will end up really upset and defeated.”
As Nikau gets ever more drawn into the fold by Sienna, Kawakawa teased that things are going to get a LOT darker for the teen, as well as seriously putting his relationship with Bella in danger.
“Bella is very close to Nikau so she’s there every step of the way. It’s kind of her journey as well. There’s some really difficult hoops they have to jump through.”
With plenty of twists and turns to come we’re hoping that Nikau and Bella can escape master manipulator Sienna's clutches before things go too far!
Home and Away continues weekdays at 1:15pm/6:00pm on Channel 5. Switch over for FIRST LOOK episodes at 6:30pm on 5STAR.
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