Mum taught me that to be a trailblazer, you can’t always play by the rules

Alex Dimitriades.

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One of my strongest memories of my mother Betty is as a five-year-old, giving her a compliment about how she looked. I remember her reaction to this day and I still cherish it. She was awestruck by such an innocent and sweet comment from her child. My mum was always beautiful and stylish. She was my god. She died from illness in 2009.

My mother raised three children as a single mum in Earlwood, Sydney. I’m the youngest child. I have an older brother, George, and sister, Melinda. There’s only three years between us all, so we grew up being fairly close.

Mum was of Greek heritage and worked as a legal secretary all of her life. She met my father, who was also Greek, in Australia and they split when I was 12. I’d prefer not to talk about that. I don’t speak publicly about this any more.

Mum raising children on her own and working was an incredible achievement. To still have her kids look up to her was a true sign of her personality. She loved her children and did everything she could to give us a normal upbringing given what was happening around her. She was dedicated and made huge sacrifices. She found a way.

Mum was a real risk taker. I always saw her to be a little different to other friends’ mums. She was very forward and as she got older she became more conservative but she was a trailblazer in her Greek community.

Being the youngest in the family, I tended to look up to my brother and sister. I saw them enter their teens and it made me grow up a lot faster. My sister was always protective of me and was very influential, from her style to her way of being. But Mum was truly my hero.

Growing up, I loved the Kim Wilde song Kids in America. I had a crush on her and years later, when I started in the acting business, about 24 years ago now, I got to meet her. She was older than me and took a liking to me. We hung out and nothing serious happened but it was my first experience of the media picking up on something and spinning bullshit that Kim and I were dating. It’s funny in hindsight. She was cool.

My first kiss happened in primary school, in year 6. It was a group pash session where someone had the keys to the storeroom and three couples went in with the lights out and we started pashing our respective partners. It was completely ridiculous but my first initiation, you could say.

I was a bit of a rat in high school. Once girls and cars became a thing, I lost interest in studying. I had female English teachers at high school who saw something in me and encouraged my passion for literature and plays. I was always getting in trouble otherwise. I quit in my last year of high school as I’d started acting. I never looked back.

It was Mum who answered the phone for my first audition, for [1993 Australian film] The Heartbreak Kid. I didn’t know what to expect. I was 18 and living at home. It was exciting and daunting at the same time.

Mum was always giving me advice but I don’t think I took much on board. I was too busy living and being a rat. I felt nobody really understood what I was going through or what was happening to me with acting and my personal life. I was the sort of guy who had to discover things for himself. But Mum was my biggest supporter, even though I’m sure she and Dad wanted me to become something other than an actor.

I‘ve been in lots of long-term relationships and really like them until I can’t stand being in them any more. I’ve gone through long periods of single life, too. The most important thing I’ve learnt is it’s wonderful to share a deep love with a partner but it’s also nice to rediscover yourself when you are alone.

I’ve just come out of a relationship. The last couple of years have been great and I have found a new place within myself. I’ve matured but I’d prefer not to give my exes airtime.

I don’t have any rules when it comes to marriage and the way you should or shouldn’t live your life. I know that you can have plans and they don’t necessarily work out. It’s important to stay open and live in the moment. Project the right ideas and good things will come to you.

I would like to get married, but once upon a time I would have said no. It’s something I’d like to do with the right person, but I have been on some bumpy rides and I am not necessarily reaching for it right now. It’ll come to me when it does. I believe in magic and certain things are beyond manifestation.

Alex Dimitriades stars in the miniseries Wake in Fright, starting on Sunday, October 8 at 8.30pm on Network Ten

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