Naomi Rukavina, renowned for her roles in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” has just
landed her first permanent television role in Australia’s beloved show, Neighbours.
In this rebooted series, Rukavina portrays Dr. Remi Varga-Murphy, forming one half of
the show’s first lesbian parents alongside her on-screen wife Cara, played by Sara West.
This ground-breaking role holds significant personal meaning for Rukavina.
Early in her career, she faced discouraging comments about her potential in the television
industry. She recounted an agent telling her, “You’ll never really work on TV because we can’t
cast you in any family. We can’t see it.”
This comment, which disregarded her mixed heritage, stayed with her throughout her successful
theater career. Rukavina sees her role in Neighbours as a triumphant victory over such biases,
exclaiming, “It’s a lot. ‘You will never be part of it, we can’t see you’… It’s cooked.
They don’t know the impact that a comment like that has. I’m a pretty robust human.
It’s not an easy industry. And that has stuck so hard, like a little barb. I’m not just a look,
I’m an actual person.”
Neighbours has previously faced allegations of racism behind the scenes, but the show has also made
strides in on-screen representation. Characters in LGBTQ+ relationships are portrayed by LGBTQ+ actors,
including transgender regular Georgie Stone, and actors with disabilities portray characters with
The show has also embraced biracial families like the Varga-Murphys, reflecting real-life diversity.
For Sara West, who plays Varga-Murphy’s wife, being part of Neighbours means pushing diversity and
representing real-life humans on an international platform.
She emphasizes that the show’s appeal lies in its ability to depict everyday normalcy for a queer
family without making their orientation the central theme of every storyline.
Despite a grueling schedule that involved performing eight shows a week in addition to her
Neighbours filming commitments, Rukavina is thrilled to be part of the first female couple on
Neighbours. She sees it as a momentous step forward for representation and diversity on a widely
beloved show, noting, “It’s not tokenism. We’ve had lots of discussions where we get to go:
‘Oh, no, that’s not an accurate representation of what that would be.’
And the producers really listen, which is super exciting.” Neighbours is set to stream on Amazon Freevee
in the UK and US, as well as Prime Video in Canada, starting from September 18, 2023. In Australia,
Network 10 will air episodes, available on Prime Video seven days later in Australia and New Zealand.