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In September 2018, Neighbours star Takaya Honda became a household name when his character David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) married Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson) in the first-ever same-sex wedding on Australian television.
No matter if you were a fan of the series or not, Honda and Wilson’s faces were plastered all over the media.
Since then, the 32-year-old actor has gone from strength-to-strength personally and professionally.
While being a series regular on a hit Australian soap is definitely something to write home about, the actor also got engaged to his now-fiancé Amy.
Like all Australians, Honda is practising social distancing with Amy and their dog Mia, while Neighbours is on hiatus.
“The television and entertainment industry has been decimated by this virus,” Honda said in an exclusive interview with TheLatch—. “And ironically it’s at a time when the public is turning to us the most.”
Even though Honda is shocked at the lack of government funding for those in the entertainment sector, he is relieved that Neighbours will be resuming filming with new measures in place.
But before then, the actor has been busying himself with his own venture, a week-nightly YouTube series called takTalks where he interviews other Aussie soap stars.
Here, Honda talks to TheLatch— about how the coronavirus has affected his industry, why his small biz TakTalks is so important during this time and why it is vital to support the Australian entertainment industry during this time.
Anita Lyons: Hi Takaya! Thank you so much for chatting with me. I’ve been seeing you very active on social media in the past few weeks. How have you personally been affected by the coronavirus?
Takaya Honda: I have been affected by the coronavirus in much the same ways as everyone else across the planet. Neighbours had a scheduled two production break over Easter and an additional two weeks was added to give the producers time to refine our production model and get us back to work, so I’ve been in isolation like everyone else.
AL: What do all of these changes mean for your immediate household?
TH: Due to the coronavirus, my fiancé has been working from home for many weeks and my dog Mia has been getting many walks to her amazement.
AL: What have you been doing during isolation?
TH: My time during isolation has been almost entirely taken up with creating takTalks. Which for the four weeks we had off, has been a week-nightly talk show hosted by me on my YouTube channel where I chat to Australian actors about their lives, what got them into acting and the work they have done. So far, guests have been from the Australian Soap world, past and present stars from both Home and Away and Neighbours. Now that we are back filming full time I am attempting (amongst the insane schedules we have filming Neighbours) to maintain doing one interview a week. takTalk number 20 features Kerry Armstrong.
AL: Why did you start takTalks and why it has been so good for you?
TH: takTalks started in a very roundabout way. I didn’t intend it to be what it was. Initially, I just wanted a way to hold a live conversation beyond the one on one limitation that Instagram had. This sent me down a rabbit hole that ended with me bringing it to YouTube. I knew I wanted to provide the UK fans something to watch while they had had their Neighbours broadcast reduced to twice a week, and I also wanted to offer some insight into the life of actors that is rarely seen. It wasn’t until takTalks # 3 with Stefan Dennis where we talked about him growing up and what got him into acting where what takTalks has become, started to take shape. I’ve always loved talking to actors about acting and I find people so interesting that this became a natural fit.
It has been so great for me, not only to fill my time whilst in isolation but by helping me expand my horizons, increase my skillset and just have a hell of a great time chatting with some new and old mates about their lives, what a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to do.
AL: How have you stayed connected with your family during this time?
TH: Like many, the only way I have been able to stay connected to family is through video chats. Which has been great in catching up with my brother and his family, and my dad, but not so much with mum. She is in fulltime care and living with early-onset Alzheimer’s which, at this point, means she can’t comprehend a video chat, so communication with her is very limited. To a degree I am used to this as I live in a different state, however, normally dad could be there to facilitate which obviously at this time he has not been able to as mum has been in lockdown for quite some time.
“[Takaya’s mum] She is in fulltime care and living with early-onset Alzheimer’s which, at this point, means she can’t comprehend a video chat, so communication with her is very limited.”
AL: Discuss what the silver lining of the time has been for you.
TH: The silver lining of this time has really been takTalks and opening up a whole new avenue for me moving forward. I really hope to continue it into the future and expand the horizons beyond the soap world and from actors. Who knows where it might lead?
AL: How has the television industry been affected by the coronavirus?
TH: The television and entertainment industry has been decimated by this virus. And ironically it’s at a time when the public is turning to us the most. I can’t comprehend the lack of help in the industry which employs has received from the government. I understand how the public has have had their own issues to deal with, but I can’t help but think, that during every other crisis, the entertainment industry is leaned on to help raise funds for those who have been hit hardest and I feel so sorry for the many forgotten in our industry who have been left to suffer during this time. It is truly sad.
AL: Now that Neighbours is resuming filming, what does that mean for you and the other cast and crew?
TH: Neighbours resuming filming means that hundreds of people are employed to produce a show that is loved across the world. A show that continues to tell uniquely Australian stories, from Australian casts and crews. With so many now turning overseas for their entertainment, it is now vital that we invest in this industry to save our voice and to ensure that Australian culture survives and is represented in the media from our very own unique perspective.
“With so many now turning overseas for their entertainment, it is now vital that we invest in this industry to save our voice and to ensure that Australian culture survives and is represented in the media from our very own unique perspective.”
AL: How do you think we can support the show biz community during this time?
TH: Watching Australian content and telling friends and family about great Australian shows that you have or are watching is the best thing you can do for the industry right now. There are so many great shows out there, we all have the time to give them a look right now.
AL: What should we do afterwards to support the industry?
TH: After this is over, if we have started watching more Australian content we will be encouraged to do more of it because we will realise the quality of the content is out there. If we want to keep seeing the Australia we see around us represented, then we have to support it.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.