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EXCLUSIVE: Home & Away alumni Johnny Ruffo on his most rewarding project yet, and whether he’d ever return to Summer Bay

The singer and actor has come a long way since his stint on the iconic Aussie soap.
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Johnny Ruffo’s life has been far from typical.

The 32-year-old’s time in the limelight began in 2011 when he placed third in Australian talent show X-Factor, before earning himself a stint as the loveable larrikin Chris Harrington on iconic Aussie soap Home and Away.

But things took a turn three years ago when he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

The Aussie celeb had experienced bad migraines for a period before his girlfriend Tahnee Simms encouraged him to get a check up at the hospital.

What transpired changed the course of his life. After confirming he had brain cancer, the singer and soap star required surgery to remove the 7cm brain tumour before undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.

He’s now cancer-free, and after his tumultuous journey, he’s using his profile from his TV career to help others who’re going through something similar.

As an ambassador for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Johnny is leading a team of twelve ‘superhero’ children from hospitals around Australia who will test toys ahead of Christmas.

Known as ‘Amazon Playmakers’, the children will collaborate with the online shopping giant to reveal the top 100 toys and trends for the holidays.

And to top it off, all toys purchased on shopping frenzy days Black Friday to Cyber Monday (27 November –30 November) will see $5 donated to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

“It’s an amazing initiative,” Johnny tells Now To Love.

“For kids it’s hard, a lot of the time they don’t understand what they’re going through when they’re unwell. That’s why the Starlight Children’s Foundation is so great. When you’re there you see them smiling and laughing and having fun. Just for a little a while they forget about everything going on in their life.”

Johnny is teaming up with Amazon and the Starlight Children’s Foundation to raise money for the special charity.


It’s one of his most important gigs to date – more so than his appearances on famous Aussie shows like Home and Away, Neighbours and even Dancing with the Stars, not that they weren’t also a treat to see.

“It’s important to stay positive,” Johnny says of getting through the tougher times.

“That’s a lot harder than it actually sounds, but for me it’s just trying to stay positive. You can try to set yourself little goals. I used to do that to get through the week,” he explains.

“And exercise is incredibly important, especially for kids if they can – try to keep active. It can help a lot.”

Support is also key, Johnny says. While it’s now been three years since Johnny battled the illness, his girlfriend Tahnee’s role in his life is just as important.

“Without her I may not be here,” he told us.

“She was the one who made me get in the car when it first happened. And she’s encouraging me to do things. She keeps me active, getting me to go for runs and swims.”

Tahnee plays a pivotal role for Johnny.


Along with maintaining his healthy, active lifestyle, Johnny has also been keeping busy with what he loves most – acting and singing.

In a crossover moment, he recently made an appearance in Neighbours, where he played the unexpected role of a prison guard.

“I had a lot of good feedback,” he says of the experience.

“The producers and the episodes were great and they might have me back… who knows!” he hints.

As for Home and Away, while he likely won’t return to Summer Bay in the very near future, never say never in Johnny’s case.

“I’d love to go back. Who knows? Maybe one day…”

Johnny recently made an appearance on Aussie soap Neighbours.

(Channel Ten)

And whether he returns to the show or not, his friendships with fellow actors will no doubt last a lifetime.

“I still see Lynne McGranger every other week,” he says of his former co-star who plays Irene on the soap.

The pair initially bonded over a mutual love of AFL, and they now have a sweet tradition with their respective teams whereby whichever finishes lower on the table each season, the loser owes dinner.

“She actually owes me and Tahnee a dinner now!” Johnny laughs.

And apart from a lavish free meal from McGranger, Johnny is also looking forward to releasing a new music single in the coming weeks.

“Who knows what’s next…,” he says.

Whatever it is, he’s got a hell of a lot of gusto behind him to nail it. We can’t wait to see.

WATCH: Johnny Ruffo and Dan Ewing talking about filming on Home and Away:

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