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EXCLUSIVE: "We did it for the kids!" Cameron Daddo on his and wife Alison Brahe’s life-changing decision

“Over the years we’ve had our moments."

By Tamara Cullen
Throughout their careers, most actors will brave the wild world of Hollywood. The town is littered with international exports, all seeking one thing: the role of a lifetime.
The quest to find their "big break", however, often causes a disconnect with the town of Los Angeles itself and what it has to offer. Rather than be glamorous, life can be a hamster wheel of seemingly endless auditions, rejection and instability.
Cameron Daddo wasn't immune to the scrappiness of making ends meet when he moved to Los Angeles with his wife Alison Brahe. But he chose to find what others overlook – a lifestyle.
After tying the knot in Australia, he and Alison relocated to the US for 25 years, raising their children Lotus, now 24, River, 20, and Bodhi, 14.
At the time, Cameron had already found an audience at home as host of dating show Perfect Match, and had won two silver Logie Awards for his appearances in Golden Fiddles and Tracks Of Glory.
Cameron secured a Silver Logie for his role. (Supplied)
Alison was an icon in her own right as the modelling "It" girl of the '80s and '90s. Yet, they both yearned for more – and knew precisely where to look.
"For me, the carrot was always Hollywood and kicking into film and TV," Cameron, 55, tells TV WEEK. "There were simply more projects available in the US than Australia. But we made wonderful friendships there too, particularly through our kids and their school."
Cameron was fortunate enough to land roles in shows such as Models Inc., NCIS, The Mentalist and The West Wing.
Cameron starred in Models Inc. (Supplied)
But after several trips home, each more fleeting than the last, Cameron and Alison returned to Australia permanently.
Work wasn't the motivation like before, but simply the desire to be with family – for their sake and for the kids.
Cameron is the eldest of five siblings, two of whom are actors and presenters Andrew and Lochie Daddo.
"Over the years, we've had our moments [of wanting to come home]," Cameron explains. "We missed a lot of big events here, such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics – we watched that in Los Angeles. But we experienced 9/11 [the terrorist attack on The World Trade Centre in 2001] and earthquakes, floods, fires etc over there.
"What we didn't have were our parents and my siblings and their families. We wanted our kids to know them – and particularly our parents in their later years. So it just felt like the right time to come home."
Cameron and Alison with their three kids. (Instagram)

Homeward bound

While years have passed and the family has readjusted to Aussie life, Cameron admits that "things take time when you start fresh". The kids are all grown up and forging their own path, while Cameron and Alison are building a new community.
Lately though, Cameron finds himself back in the hustle, thanks to the current COVID-19 global pandemic.
Despite working in an uncertain field, the actor is fortunate to have his fingers in many pies, including TV, radio, theatre and even podcasting. And in the downtime, he's learning to embrace the stillness.
"It [isolation] is a bit like Groundhog Day," Cameron says. "It's a month of Sundays, isn't it? The interesting part for us actors and artists is that our days are not dissimilar to this normally, unless we're employed, so it's a matter of being creative and finding things to do.
"Isolation hasn't been bad for me; I've had my radio gig at Smooth FMfor many years now; I have a studio set up at home, and having the kids at home is kind of a bonus."

With Bodhi in eighth grade at school, Cameron and Alison have been thrust into the throes of home-schooling like so many other parents. While it's a "huge undertaking", the couple had some prior experience. But does it get any easier the second time around?
"A little bit," Cameron says with a laugh. "We tried home-schooling when I came back from the US for The Sound Of Music [he played Captain Georg Von Trapp]. We had a huge respect for the teachers after that! It was three months and, my God it was intense!"
Amid the chaos of getting through each day, Cameron has found solace in what he can't control. There is no better time to focus on the way we think, live and act.
"Things have been changing, but I've learnt to slow down," he explains. "Hindsight being 20/20, you can see it now. We've been given a small respite and we have something to gauge against now; what we will accept going forward.
"Unfortunately, it's come at a massive life and economic cost, but it's important to dwell on what we'll gain. Be a bit gentler in life. We got greedy and now we're being shown a different way."
Cameron and Alison are making the most of every moment. (Instagram)
In the age of social media, where everything is instantly obtainable, Cameron has instilled a valuable tradition in his children – and now it might be more important than ever.
"We have a tradition at dinnertime where all media in the house is turned off and we hang out," he says, adding that, surprisingly, the rule didn't meet with any pushback from their adolescent kids.
"Lotus was born before [mobile]phones in 1996, and River was born in 2000. So Bodhi is the only one to consider having a phone," he says.
"It's never been an issue. I have more of an issue when the kids sit the dogs in their laps at the dinner table. [Laughs]
"One of them we rescued from South Central LA – he's a mutt and thinks he's a cat. The other we got in Australia to keep him company. He's a Jack Russell Terrier.
Our evening routine is to walk the dogs, exercise and eat dinner together. Then its homework or we'll watch something as a family."

Summer job

Lately, the family-of-five has been watching Home And Away. Cameron has starred in the long-running series this year, playing not one, but two characters!
Not only is he happy to be working, but his kids are now beginning to understand the show he has known for most of his life.
"My kids are American and had no frame of reference for Home And Away until we moved here," he says. "We only started watching it when I joined the show and they're starting to get into it a bit more. Plus, they're always happy when Dad is working because I'm less grumpy." [Laughs]

Cameron joined the show as Evan, the terminally ill father of Ryder (Lukas Radovich). His role was never intended to go beyond the character of Evan, but producers knew they couldn't let him go so easily. A few weeks after Evan died, Cameron reappeared as Owen, his long-lost twin brother.
"I took the job knowing it had a start, middle and end," Cameron says. "But halfway through filming, I thought, 'How can I stay?
Can't Evan get better?' [Laughs]. Everyone was happy to have me on set, and the relationship I had forged with the cast was wonderful, so we tried a new idea.
"Home And Away has never done a storyline like this before – bringing back the same actor to play a different lead role – so I was honoured and grateful that it's me. It makes a splash!"
Watch: Cameron Daddo performs his original song on Home And Away. Story continues below.
Cameron, who is also a professional musician, has performed his own songs on the show and will continue to marry his music with his character. Additionally, working alongside TV WEEK Gold Logie winners such as Ray Meagher and Georgie Parker future was a bonus.
"Georgie and I have had an association for a few years, so it was lovely working with her," he enthuses. "And Ray is a terrific bloke; I only came to know him through Home And Away, but we get along great. I love being on set. It's got a strange feeling of being at home."
As we press Cameron on whether he could set up a residence in Summer Bay, he doesn't hesitate in his response.
"From your lips to God's ears – or the producers, in this case!" he says with a laugh. "Someone said to me in my early career, 'Acting is a noble profession and don't let anyone tell you different.'
"People turn to it in times of difficulty; they want to escape or be entertained. I truly believe that and I'm honoured to be part of it. I'm stoked!"

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