NZ Woman's Weekly

Shortland Street stars reveal “I have two mums!”

Lucy Elliott (20) plays Dayna Jenkins

Lucy’s two mums: Susan Trainor and on-screen whangai-ed mother Jacquie Nairn (playing Wendy Cooper)

Lucy and mum Susan

Why have one mum when you can have two? Lucy says her real-life mum, Susan, can be fierce like Wendy, but is more fun-loving.

Lucy: “Jacquie really does feel like my second mum. When I get to work, I’ll always call out, ‘Hi, Mum!’ and give her a hug.

My real mum is quite a fierce, strong woman. I’ve had a few scenes with Wendy where she’s reminded me of Mum a bit, mainly when she’s sticking up for her kids. But Wendy’s quite serious, whereas my mum’s more playful. She and I will listen to Beyoncé at home and do weird stuff together – we’ll often hang out and talk about boys and stuff.

I love my mum so much, she’s my best friend and is definitely one of the most beautiful and influential people in my life.”

Jacquie: “I actually met Lucy’s mum more than 10 years ago, when she and I briefly worked together on Shortland Street. I didn’t see her again until I ran into her and Peter [husband, actor Peter Elliott] at a play – so I went up to them and waxed lyrical about Lucy!”

Susan: “We were about to leave and Jacquie rushed up to us, and you know what she said that I loved the most? She said just how professional and great Lucy is to work with.

Lucy is just an awesome daughter. For me, I’ve never found it strange seeing someone else pretending to be her mother – I’m married to an actor, so I’m well used to that side of things! We’re enormously proud of her.”

Leila Eketone (3) plays Tillie Potts

Leila’s two mothers: Sheridan Eketone and on-screen mother Amanda Billing (playing Sarah Potts)

Sheridan and Leila

Mum Sheridan is happy to entrust Leila, the youngest of four, to Amanda.

Sheridan: “Leila loves being on the show. We have three other children – Leila is the youngest – so they’re very proud of her.

It has been so amazing having Amanda be her mum because she has loved Leila from the very start.

They have a wicked connection; Leila just loves her. People ask me a lot if it’s hard seeing someone else being her mum on the telly and I always tell them it isn’t, because it’s Amanda.

She’s always been protective of her on the set, so I’ve never had to worry. I know that Amanda will worry for her like a mother would.”

Amanda: “Leila feels like my friend more than anything else.

I don’t have kids yet so I don’t know exactly what it’s like, but I can almost picture what that intense joy feels like. At the moment, though, I use Leila shamelessly for hugs and kisses all the time!

Leila is really special in that she’s been able to take on this role at such a young age. The very first time she had a line it was to say, ‘Noooo!’ to TK. Sarah was supposed to be a bit taken aback and surprised at this, but every time she said it, I was just so stoked and proud that she was doing it! She’s gorgeous.”

Reid Walker (15) plays Harry Warner

His two mothers: Theresa Walker and on-screen step-mum Angela Bloomfield (playing Rachel McKenna)

Rachel McKenna and Harry Warner

Despite Rachel smacking his bottom, Reid appreciates the different qualities of the two women in his life.

Angela: “When Reid first started on the show, I was working as the director. I was in the meeting where the producer said, ‘I think we’re going to change Harry.’ I was shocked and taken aback.

I waited with bated breath for this new boy to arrive and then Reid turned up and he was just so efficient – we could do anything!

Then, the next moment, I was back in there as Rachel, becoming part of his family! He was just nine when he started, which is how old my own son is now. Thinking about him in that situation, starting on a TV show, then being on it for five years, that’s a really, really big deal. You change so much through those years – he’s shot up and grown over that time. It’s been lovely to watch. We have a lot of fun on set – when you work with Michael Galvin [Dr Chris Warner] every day, you’re always laughing – but we make sure [these young stars] learn by example as well.

Even though he’s young, we expect a lot from him and the other young ones on the show. We let them know about the professionalism and the commitment that is required of them – we’ve demanded a lot from them.

The fastest way I got to know Reid was through a difficult time: a controversial storyline where Rachel smacked her stepson Harry. I had to smack Reid’s bottom for about 15 minutes and I felt so uncomfortable doing it! We made the wardrobe team pad him up. It felt so inappropriate, but Reid did a fantastic job and it looked convincing on screen.”

Theresa: “Reid has always really looked up to Angela.

I know that Ange and Michael respect him a lot and it’s a very safe environment, so I’m trusting of the situations. I knew nothing about television when Reid got this role – I’ve learnt so much about it through the process and they’ve always made me feel comfortable. I do try to chaperone him at least once or twice a week and I’ll run lines with him. You always know where the storyline is going.”

Reid: “Rachel and Mum are definitely different people. Rachel is a lot more focused on work than family life – well, she certainly used to be. She was all about running the hospital and not worrying so much about her stepkids. Whereas my mum has definitely put family first.

They both have motherly qualities that have helped me and Harry grow and get through life. They’re both great mums – I’m pretty lucky!”

Photographs by Jae Frew.

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