Celebrity News

Shortland Street’s sister act

Talented duo Jade and Faye Smythe reveal the highs and lows of keeping it in the family
shortland street, faye smythe, jade smythe, nz shortland street

Jade Smythe is used to people asking about her sister, Shortland Street actress Faye Smythe. But when Faye returned to reprise her role as nurse Tania Jeffries, everyone wanted to know about Jade. “It was crazy,” laughs Faye (26). “Everywhere I went people were asking, ‘How’s Jade?’ and ‘Where’s Jade?'”

In Faye’s absence from the hit show, fashion designer Jade (24) had made a big impact on the set of the nation’s favourite soap, working in the wardrobe department and dressing the cast in some of her own designs. The show brought the sisters’ separate worlds together for the first time – an experience they found surprisingly difficult.

“I have to admit it was a challenge initially, having Jade there,” says Faye. “In my personal life, she’s always been there to help me out with clothing, but this was work, so it was really different.”

“We’ve both got really big personalities,” adds Jade. It’s true that they’re both loud, with amazing smiles and wicked, identical laughs, but now they’re all grown-up, the sisters are happy to say their bond is, at last, very close. “Our relationship has changed a lot over the years,” Faye says. “I think the biggest thing now is that we actually like each other.” Jade cracks up laughing. “Yeah, that does help!”

Both Jade and Faye enjoyed their first experience of working together

The girls’ parents moved them from South Africa to Auckland when they were 11 and 9 in search of a safer lifestyle. The girls depended a lot on each other until the elder Faye reached her teenage years. “There was that typical period in high school where I was like, ‘You’ll see me around, but don’t talk to me.’ But now we’re incredibly close,” says Faye.

“Mum always said if she was to have kids again, she probably wouldn’t have children so close together because one will go through an end of a phase and the other will just start. “But it’s like the best thing now. The gap diminishes and you’ve got this awesome best friend who’s there forever.”

When Jade became a fixture on the Shortland Street set, the two shared more than ever: friends, work and, of course, clothes – though that remains a contentious issue. “I’m not the most fashion conscious person in the world,” Faye admits, casting a look at her sister who’s rolling her eyes. “Jade has saved me from quite a few blunders!”

“There was this one time she brought home a pair of hideous three-quarter pants, so I just turned them into shorts without asking her,” Jade remembers. “I was really upset, but in the end I was happy and I still wear them to this day,” Faye admits.

The sisters say their respect for each other’s strengths allows them to work so closely. Jade dresses Faye for every major event she goes to and Faye served as a model for Jade’s collections – until she was replaced with a professional. “Yeah, that hurt!” jokes a grinning Faye.

Jade’s made a name for herself in Shortland Street’s wardrobe department and with her own label but still enjoys dressing Faye for red-carpet events

Ever since they were children, Faye and Jade have fallen into their natural talents – with Jade learning how to sew from her grandmother and Faye always wanting to be the main role in the plays that the pair used to put on for their family.

“She had this loud personality and was so determined to be the main character. I let her, as long as I could dress her,” Jade laughs. “When it comes to clothing, she’ll just trust me and when it comes to acting or photography, I’ll completely trust Faye.”

“Jade’s extremely honest,” says Faye. “It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s great to have someone so honest, but at times she’s too cutting!” Faye is currently travelling back and forth between Melbourne and New Zealand to audition for roles, while Jade is continuing to design for her label, Jade Smythe.

Now that the two of them have finished their collaboration on Shortland Street, both say despite their initial trepidations, they’re missing seeing each other every day. “It’s just like having a ready-made best friend,” says Faye. “Although, one that probably knows you better than you’d want!”

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