Nikau Parata’s waning self confidence in Home and Away is becoming a huge worry and soon, his loved ones are going to pick up on the warning signs as he continues to over-exercise and embroil himself in social media.
Body dysmorphia and eating disorders in men is a topic rarely tackled on mainstream TV and actor Kawakawa Fox-Reo has shared with Metro.co.uk his pride in bringing the story to life for viewers.
Here, he tells us in an interview about the challenging scenes, how far Nikau goes and the impact it could have on his relationship with Bella.
Can you describe Nikau’s mindset during his excessive mindset and what drives him to push himself too far?
He feels very anxious. He wants to do a good job and doesn’t want to let his family down. He doesn’t want to let Sienna down. I think he wants to believe that he’s doing the right thing, but I think he’s realising that he’s getting further and further away from himself as a person. There’s lots going on!
How important do you think it is to show that men also suffer from over exercising and eating disorders?
Very important. I don’t think it’s shown as much as people think it is. It might be cool to look a certain way and be ‘aesthetically pleasing’ but the bottom line is as long as you’re healthy, there’s a different definition ‘beauty’ for everyone. You don’t need to have a six-pack or look a certain way.
Being comfortable in your own skin is a journey that everyone goes on. Being beautiful is defined as a certain thing and you see that on social media and on TV. It’s very easy for people to believe that particular thing, but that particular aspect of ‘beauty’ is in no way the only depiction of what it can be. Beauty is all different shapes and colours.
How worried is Bella initially by Nikau’s behaviour as he spends so much time in the gym and snaps at her?
She’s really worried. I think she sees a real shift in him throughout this storyline. That confrontation comes from a place of worry and love. He’s so wrapped in becoming this perfect model that he sees Bella as an obstacle at that point in time.
When he sees pictures of other muscular men, what does this do to Nikau’s self-esteem?
It messes with it so much! It has a really bad effect on him. If I was put in this situation and told ‘you need to be more like this’ if you want to do well, it’s a bit of a crazy thing to do don’t you think? ‘I need to look like this in order to be successful’. It’s quite crazy that dark side of modelling. It makes Nikau so much more insecure for sure.
How have you found filming these exhausting and quite emotive scenes for Nikau?
It’s been challenging. I’m still learning and exercising that muscle of being able to step onto set and go to that place. I’m still learning that, and I do a bit of prep beforehand to get myself into that place emotionally. It’s been a challenge, it still is a challenge, but I’m working on it. Hopefully, fans see it on screen, and they’re convinced!
Tane recognises Nikau’s need to rest but could he have accidentally been a trigger by putting pressure on him previously?
Tane is worried about Nikau. I don’t think he’s been a trigger for Nikau’s behaviour. They are a close knit family and it’s all coming from a place of love.
What does the social media success do for Nikau – does he see that as indication that he is doing the right thing, even though he isn’t?
He definitely gets excited by it and get affirmation from Sienna and Allegra that the success means he’s going in the right direction. He can’t get enough really, and I think he becomes a little obsessed.
How much do you think these events will divide Nikau and Bella, especially when he is dismissive of her work?
It takes a big toll on their relationship for sure.
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