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Actor Kevin Clayette talks time on Australia’s iconic soap ‘Neighbours’

For Kevin Clayette, acting is learning; every new role allows him to learn something new about himself, humanity and the world, and that is why he loves what he does. Preparing for a role involves a lot of reflection, constantly thinking and reassessing the meaning of life from the eyes of his character.

Each role Clayette has had in his career has allowed him to show off a different set of his talents, whether changing languages between his native language of French and English or genres, from horror science fiction in Doktor to the dramedy musical Emo the Musical, the actor has shown audiences all over the world just what he is capable of, proving why he is at the forefront of his industry in his home country of New Caledonia and abroad.

“I try to be as easy going and natural as I can be in every role, which might not sound very exciting, but I think that’s a direct reflection of my personality. I’m really easy going and chill. For most roles I’ve had to play so far being young and relaxed and cool has been essential, so I tried to bring as much of myself as possible in those roles. It’s really all about just becoming the character, no matter what,” said Clayette.

After relocating to Australia years ago, Clayette was ready to take on some new challenges and refine his craft. At the time, he could barely speak English, with a thick French accent that did not translate well on screen. However, he was determined, and he worked hard to master English and the Australian accent. His hard work paid off when he landed a role on the country’s longest running television drama Neighbours.

“So many actors that have been on Neighbours have catapulted onto huge careers. The idea of following in the footsteps of Academy-Award nominee Margot Robbie or the Hemsworth Brothers, to name a few, was just mind blowing at the time,” he said.

The soap opera, which began in 1985 and is still going strong almost 35 years later, chronicles the lives of the residents of Ramsay Street in the fictional Australian suburb of Erinsborough. When the series began, it revolved around three families - the Ramsays, the Robinsons and the Clarkes, living at no. 24, no. 26 and no. 28 respectively. Nowadays, the scope of the show is much wider and only one member of the original families remains in the street. The show reached a watershed in 1997 when the last remaining original character, Helen Daniels, died. The departure of her relatives and arrival of the Scully family marked the start of a new era for Neighbours. There's never a dull moment on Ramsay Street, and despite their many feuds, the residents will always - in the words of the show's theme tune - "be there for one another".

“I loved meeting established actors who had been doing this for a long time. I analyzed them a lot and was fascinated by how quickly they’d learn their lines or how relaxed they’d be on stage. I also loved the fact that this production is very fast paced. Most episodes are shot in a day or two, which means everyone has to be on their A game at all times. I loved the connections I made and the confidence I gained as an actor,” said Clayette.

In the iconic series, Clayette played Dustin Oliver, a homeless kid in his twenties. He is quite troubled and uses boxing as an outlet for his anger, but he is still a very good guy at heart. The character was critical to the show because it gave birth to a love triangle between two of the main characters, Jack and Paige. The introduction of Dustin also brought a new set up in the show: the outreach center, which has been a key element for the story since. On top of this, Dustin was also essential as he helped Jack, one of the leads and his best friend, in remembering who he was when he suffered from memory loss.

“My character had a rough upbringing and bounced back and forth between different foster homes. In my scenes in the show and in my interactions with other characters, my character was pretty much always a ‘good guy’ despite causing a little bit of mayhem in the first few episodes, as I kissed one of my best mate’s love interest, and then knocked her out by accident whilst sparring a few episodes later,” he said.

Clayette enjoyed every aspect of his time on Neighbours, from making friends with other cast members to choreographing boxing sequences for some of the episodes. It was fun and truly launched his career into becoming the instantly recognizable face he is now.

“This show allowed me to be on the cover of a magazine for the first time and I’ll never forget it because a couple years ago around Christmas, I drove to the airport with my mum to pick up my dad who was coming back from France. He was all smiles and ecstatic on our way to the car. Then finally, before we got back in, he opened his backpack and pulled out the magazine that I was on the cover of. He said it was on every news stand in Australia at the airport. I could tell how proud he was, it made me quite emotional because him and my mum have done so much to support me,” said Clayette.

To stay up-to-date with Clayette’s formidable career, join the thousands that already follow him on Instagram @kevin.clayette.

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