Everything in Ada Nicodemou changed. As she mentions finishing up another busy day on the set of Home And Away, you can hear it in her voice.
Her energy is projected via the phone to someone who admits to working harder than she ever has”. Ada is now able to sense it, and she has never been more thankful for the change.
“I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about this year – and maybe my age – where my give-a-s—- radar has gone out the window!” she says with a laugh at TV WEEK. “We’ve all endured an awful year and I just thought to myself, ‘I’m just going to say what I want to say.'”
Curious, naturally, we ask: what is it that she needs to say so desperately?
“Oh, if only! I could say a lot, but really it comes down to kindness. Let’s get back to basics and bring empathy and compassion back into our lives.”
Although the actress has been lucky enough in the midst of a global pandemic to continue working on the iconic drama series, her life is different. Or it’s changing, at the very least.
Development stopped for eight weeks, allowing Ada to spend time with her 8-year-old son, Johnas, and her four-year-old partner, businessman Adam Rigby, at home.
“It certainly makes you closer with your family, “It certainly takes you closer to your family. Yet, on a more serious note, the lockdown left the TV WEEK Gold Logie nominee with an astounding and unforeseen psychological effect.
“I went back to work when Johnas was five months old, so I haven’t had a lot of time to be at home with him But wow – the joy [of spending time at home with him in 2020] is the best thing that’s happened to me all year,” she says.
“We played, took bike rides, walked in the rain, painted; it really makes you think about how hard we work and our values.”
Not that she complains. Ada is grateful for a steady job she still loves, in celebration of her 20th anniversary as Leah in Home And Abroad. But it was her big break that cemented a victory for diversity and her own faith to become an actress in the hit teen drama Heartbreak High in 1994.
“There was never anyone who looked like me on TV when I was growing up,” she says. “I wanted a connection with someone and Heartbreak High was one of the shows that helped to showcase that I’m very proud of my heritage [Ada’s family is Greek-Cypriot] and it’s nice to know there’s a little girl out there who can relate to what they see on screen.”
But it is not enough to have a long-standing career and a steady paycheque. Ada has been taught this year that you can’t rewind the clock and that she has to be with her dad.
She says, “I’m the daughter of migrants,” And I have been helping them from the moment I can remember. I enjoy being busy, but years later, I have learned to take a step back and focus on what is important to me: kids, fitness, and time.
It’s something I say yes to now that takes me out of my home, so it has to be something that I really want to do. It has really changed my mindset; I want to be present.
The teenage years of Johnas are not too far away, and Ada is painfully aware that one day, he may ask her to drop him off around the corner” to prevent her presence embarrassing her.
When that happens, I will die,” she says with a laugh. “I remember my parents doing that! Right now when we’re getting groceries, he still holds my hand, but I know the day will come and I’m not looking forward to it at all! ”
The young man, whose father is Chrys Xipolitas, Ada’s former husband, is an abundance of joy for Ada, as is Adam’s partner, who has taken on the role of stepdad since they started dating four years ago. Ada admits that his determination “isn’t an easy thing to do to help raise Johnas and join her world.
“Adam and Johnas adore each other; he’s such a great stepdad and has really stepped up, “Adam and Johnas adore each other; he is such a great stepdad and he has really stepped up. It is extremely rare for a man to come into my life and love a child as if he were his own and love me as I’ve never been loved before.
I depend a lot on him which for me is a real first. That’s what I’ve never been able to do before; I have always owned the reins. But it’s good to know that he’s got our back—a he’s a fantastic guy.
Although marriage in a long-term relationship is always the next move, Ada does not feel any obligation to walk a second time down the aisle. The milestones she found significant in her twenties are no longer on her radar.
“I’m 43 years old now,” she says. “I just want to enjoy what we have.”
For raising another kid, the same goes. With their second son, Harrison, Ada and Chrys suffered a tragic miscarriage during their first marriage.
She chose to keep her sorrow private, but Ada has discovered the value of a conversation for herself and others as time begins to carry more weight in her decisions.
“I feel freer to speak up nowadays,” she says. “When I miscarried, I didn’t know anyone who had had one, so I had no-one to turn to. I felt like my body had failed me. I struggled and went through a really tough time.”
Ada felt pressure to send a sibling to Johnas, but over time that had ebbed.
She says, “I struggled with the guilt of not giving him a sibling,” Johnas used to question me a lot, which helped, but he doesn’t know I’m glad to be a happy, stable kid with him.
Women can be so demanding on us and on each other. We also construct a false “perfect” universe and the fall is so wonderful when life doesn’t go that way.
Although their stigma about miscarriage and mental health persists, Ada wants women to speak their truth and to know that doing so is OK.
And in fact, she continues focusing on herself and fighting for her own well-being.
I see a psychologist I never used to talk about because I was concerned about what others might think. But life isn’t always going to be great, and, “I see a counselor, which I never used to speak of because I was worried what people would think. But life isn’t always going to be perfect, and we should normalize the tough times, “we should normalize the challenging times. “Grief creeps up on you. It’s an s—- thing to go through and never really goes away. But for me, it’s a constant work in progress.”
As she looks ahead with a refreshed outlook, Ada says she wants nothing more than to be happy, just as it makes me sound like a little girl!”
All I want to do is grow together, relieve my mind of health and trouble, and just enjoy life. Right now that’s all I need—we all do.