McNamee adds she’s “at peace” with her decision to move on.
“I’m not someone who looks backwards. I’m a real believer in everything has its season and leaving the show felt like the end of a season to me,” she explains. “I feel hugely grateful for the amazing time I’ve had on the show.”
We caught up with the actress to find out more about her decision to leave the show and some of her favourite moments from Summer Bay.
As you prepare to leave the role of Tori behind, what are you fondest memories of your time on Home and Away?
I’m going to miss the banter on-set between the cast and crew so much. Because he plays my brother Justin, I’ve had a lot of scenes with James Stewart. He and the crew would make me belly laugh 20 times a day!
Is there anything you won’t miss?
Not really. I think the only thing that was hard about this job was working through two pregnancies [with son Jack, 6, and daughter Neve, 2]. Driving up to Palm Beach from inner Sydney at 5am and having to stop for a morning sickness vomit on the side of the road wasn’t fun! Neither was walking on hot sand in summer while heavily pregnant. But if that’s the worst of it, I can’t complain.
What has been special about playing Tori for more than five years?
Being gifted such an amazing character was incredible. She was a career woman, a doctor, she’d lost both her parents, and she opted to have a baby on her own. It was a challenge to play this complicated woman every day but I loved it, too. I really loved learning so much about medicine and surgery, and the medical language she used. If her character was just someone who went to the diner every day and talked about her boyfriend, I don’t think I would have stayed on the show for so long.
Do you have any plans for what’s next?
Because of the pandemic, I told my agent I don’t want to work interstate right now. I don’t want to risk not being able to get back to my kids and partner Matt [Tooker]. Instead, I’m brushing up on my singing, because I started out in musical theatre, so I’m taking a weekly singing lesson and practising for an hour every day. I’m also exercising and trying to eat well as things have gone a bit wrong during lockdown! Then I’ll look at work again next year.
It sounds like you’re ready to embrace whatever’s next?
Absolutely. The pandemic is terrible, but having the time to spend with my family is a blessing. I told my son Jack that Mum would be at home more for awhile and he was like, “Yeah, whatever, can I play the Nintendo now?” The kids keep things real!
Home and Away airs Monday to Thursday, 7pm, on Channel Seven.