Laura Vázquez came in a full circle. She was a household name that appeared as Sarah Thompson in more than 300 episodes of Home And Away in the mid-90s. Today, she leads the makeup department of the Australian soap.
“It is like going home,” she says of her job behind the scenes. “I know this is exactly where I should be and where I’m comfortable at this point in my life.”
For the then-teenage actress who went on to date singer Peter Andre and later marries Kingsley Goldsmith, a member of the British boy band MN8, public appearances and photo-shoots for magazine coverings were natural 25 years ago.
The closest mates on and off-screen were Vazquez and then co-star Melissa George – who has gone on to international acting success.
“And now, we are still friendly. We ‘re still in touch. We were kids, we have lived with each other pretty much. She will come and sleep in my room, I will live in her bed,’ she says. “The show had a powerful bond among all the teenagers. We’ve been with each other more than our families were at home.
These days, it is more likely that Vazquez will be found doing the make-up for Ada Nicodemou (who plays Leah Patterson Baker), who also auditioned for Sarah.
“When we were kids, Ada and I had the same agent, and when Home And Away came up, it was between Ada and me, and I got the job,” says Vazquez. “People used to mistake each other for us. They would say to me, ‘Hey, you’re Ada,’ and I would say, ‘No, that’s the other brunette. It was a constant joke. And then, years later, she got Home And Away, and it was meant to be.
Vazquez has nothing but fond memories of being on Home And Away during what many consider to be the golden years of the show – the time from 1994 to 1998 which brought in characters like Marilyn (Emily Symons), Shane (Dieter Brummer), Angel (Melissa George) and Shannon (Isla Fisher).
“Shane and Angel were formidable. I remember playing with Melissa, Dieter and Tristan Bancks, who played Tug, and they would have had to shut down shopping centres because it was too big back then, “she said. “I was so fortunate to be part of that generation because it was such an iconic TV moment.”
Vazquez was only 17 when she was cast as Sarah, who was not only the best friend of Angel’s but also one of the teenagers living with Alf and Ailsa Stewart (Ray Meagher and Judy Nunn).
“Neighbours and Home And Away were the biggest shows on television at that time. It was a dream come true to get a job at Home And Away, “she says, adding that she knows how young she was.
“I was a kid but at the time I felt I was an adult. It’s what makes you rise. My eldest daughter is 16 and I think, ‘Wow, I was so young,’ but still so lucky and so fortunate to have the chance.”
Vazquez spent almost three years at Summer Bay but left as the stories of Sarah became clear petering out. However, she returned for Shane and Angel’s wedding so that Sarah could act as a bridesmaid and again for Alf ‘s 60th birthday party in 2005.
“We ‘re like a huge family and so I think it was difficult to leave the people after being on the show for almost three years, and that’s what I was going to miss most, my second family. But it was exciting as well because it allowed me to work on other projects, “says Vazquez.
She went on to roles in The Beast, The Lost World, and All Saints mini-series flirted with a singing career and did television screening in the UK. Then, she switched into cosmetics about ten years ago.
“I got married, I had kids and when I was young I decided to do something when I was performing, my priorities changed. Yet I always wanted to do something that I was passionate about and that was hair and make-up, “says Vazquez, noting that one day she has yet to rule out reprising Sarah again.
“This is a question everybody asks. I still say that if it was a special event, anything to do with Alf, something to bring back older cast members, I wouldn’t say no but return as a regular cast member, no. Today, in my place, I am thrilled – behind the scenes.