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From Neighbours to family ties…
It’s a long way from Ramsay Street but former Neighbours star Eliza Szonert feels very much at home with the life she now enjoys in Los Angeles.
Five years ago, Eliza headed to LA, determined to make a name for herself overseas. She’s had a couple of movie parts and a guest role in Angel, the Seven Network’s spin-off from cult TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. What Eliza wasn’t expecting was to find the perfect love. But she did – and she married him. A barefoot Eliza wed her beau, Charles Martens, on California’s Laguna Beach, their beautiful daughter Jade in his arms.
“I wanted a small, intimate wedding – no big fuss,” explains Eliza, 26, who wore a long white chiffon dress with a garland of flowers in her hair.
On a trip home in which she showed off her daughter to her Melbourne family, Eliza says she hasn’t given up acting. In fact, she’s made an Aussie film called The Dish, by the makers of The Castle, but she is coy about it.
“I’ve just done a movie which is going to be released in October but I’m not allowed to talk about it,” is all she’ll say. Eliza had always wanted to see if she could make it in LA. So, after three years playing Danni Stark in Network Ten’s Neighbours, she headed to the States.
That was when friends introduced her to Charles. “But I really wasn’t looking to get into a relationship then. I wanted to focus on my career and I really wanted to be alone – to discover myself,” Eliza insists.
She was still suffering the after-effects of a romance with Englishman Joss Griffith, who she met while starring in Snow White in the UK. He followed her back to Melbourne but soon returned to his English girlfriend and their baby.
It was a traumatic time for Eliza, but she met Charles again a few months later, and then again a third time – and eventually she realised everything happens for the best.
“I have the kindest man in the world in Charles. He is a beautiful human being and my soulmate,” she says. “He and I both love to travel. I’m lucky, Charles founded his own company, Seche, which markets natural nail-care products and he worked so hard for the first 10 years that he can now afford to have other people running it day-to-day. They do a great job and it means he has the freedom to take off and come with me to Australia for a few weeks.”
“Charles loves it Down Under, and the ideal arrangement would be if we could have a place here and another in LA.”
Eliza says she and Charles are both keen to have more kids. “I certainly want to have another – ideally I’d like to have four children – although there are times when I drag myself out of bed in the morning after not getting much sleep and think ‘How will I ever cope?’”
Even though Eliza says she still wants to act, her family comes first. “Charles wants me to do whatever makes me happy but I didn’t become a mother for someone else to look after my children. I want to be with Jade as much as I can. Kids change so much at this age, I don’t want to miss a moment.”
This article originally appeared in Woman's Day magazine, dated August 14th 2000 and was written by Patrice Fidgeon