Zoë Ventoura is one of those performers who never fails to leave a lasting impression. Almost a decade on, the 37-year-old’s final devastating moments as the beloved Mel in Packed to the Rafters remains one of the most memorable death scenes in the history of Australian television.
Yet when the cameras aren’t rolling on her latest high-profile film or TV project, Perth-born Ventoura has been quietly living her best life in Los Angeles with her Australian husband of more than three years, fellow actor and presenter Daniel MacPherson, whom she met on the drama Wild Boys. And, yes, she is counting her blessings.
As Ventoura tells WHO: “Australia is always home, because this is where we’re from and where our families and our friends are, but we do love LA too. We’re lucky enough that we get a nice balance.”
Indeed, Ventoura is currently back on home turf, to tackle a major new role as Dr Alex Nielson in the long-running weeknight series Home and Away. It’s an opportunity, says the star, that simply “ticked all the boxes”. WHO sat down with the actress for a candid chat about all the things.
How long have you and Dan been based in Los Angeles?
How long have you and Dan been based in Los Angeles? We’re back and forth, obviously, because there’s always work here and elsewhere but we’ve been there for about six years. We’ve grown to really love it. Where we live out in Santa Monica we are by the beach because we’ve found, as Australians, that we kind of just gravitated towards the water.
Is Dan still over in LA?
No, he’s home at the moment. He’s not far off starting the next season of his job, so he’s taking a bit of a break and starting to prepare for that [American-British military-spy thriller Strike Back, in which MacPherson plays US Sergeant Samuel Wyatt]. It’s been nice for both of us to be home and spend time with the family for a little while. The life of any actor is very transient and you have to really be ready to be wherever you need to be for the work. Obviously, coordinating with a husband and wife who are both actors means we’re just always moving around a lot.
Is life as an actor in LA very different to that back home?
It’s not that different, to be honest. California has a pretty similar lifestyle to Australia – I think that’s why Australians are quite happy to live over there. It’s sunny and it’s beachy. But the thing over there is that, even if you’re not working, you’re quite busy because there’s always auditions and meetings and classes. But whether you’re on set here or there, I find that all sets are pretty universal.
As new emergency doctor Alex in Home and Away, this will be the first time in your career playing a doctor. Have you been busy practising the medical terminology?
Obviously, things come up in the script and the first thing you do is look them up so you know what you’re talking about. It’s good because I get to learn a lot along the way. A couple of weeks ago, before I started filming, I spent a day in the [NSW] Nepean Hospital’s emergency department and just had a look and got to shadow an emergency doctor for a couple of hours. It was really helpful for me to get the vibe of what an emergency department feels like.
To read the rest of the article, go to this week's WHO magazine.