When Shortland Street star Tane Williams arrived for his first day of drama school back in 2013, his eyes were immediately drawn to the gorgeous blonde babe already in the classroom.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wow!’ She was very, very beautiful,” tells the hunky Shorty star, who is delighted to share his and fellow actress Lucy Barclay’s love story with Woman’s Day.
While the pair, who both grew up in Wellington, shared an unbelievable chemistry, it would take an entire year for them to get together, despite constant urging from their classmates at Whitireia Performance Centre who could see the budding actors were perfect for each other.
“Everyone was always saying we should be together, but I thought she was too innocent!” jokes Tane, 23, who admits that he partied a little more than he should have in his student days. “I was a bad boy and I didn’t want to sully this poor girl’s reputation.”
Lucy – who also appeared on the iconic Kiwi soap last year – confesses that Tane’s reluctance to admit to his feelings for her almost drove her to distraction. “I fell in love with him pretty quickly, but he barely paid me any attention. I didn’t understand what was wrong with him!”
But finally, at a party one night, Tane realised what had been staring him straight in the face all along. He led Lucy outside, declared his true feelings and they had their first kiss.
“I had a massive shift of consciousness,” explains Tane. “I suddenly realised I wanted a relationship and there Lucy was – shining like a piece of gold. I felt like I’d won a medal as soon as we got together. I was so happy.”
When Tane won the role of ambulance driver Ali Karim on the soap half-way through their third year at drama school, he moved to Auckland. Lucy soon followed and, while they never stopped loving each other, they admit their relationship faced some challenges during that period.
“We’re quite different people in a lot of ways,” says Lucy, 22.
“Tane is extremely good at adjusting to new situations and doesn’t need much support, but I found the move quite hard and I needed him to help me with that. We had to have a few discussions around the amount of time he was spending with his mates, but we worked through it and our relationship is amazing now.”
Tane adds, “I’ve mentally aged about 10 years since being with Lucy, but that’s a good thing.”
Earlier this year, the couple – who live together in a flat in Auckland – made the big decision to become vegans and they recently celebrated their three-year anniversary with a trip to Piha, on Auckland’s west coast.
“It was the most euphoric moment of our relationship for sure,” smiles Tane. “We packed a lunch, got out there, took our shoes off and it was just perfect. Lucy even cried, she was so happy.”
He describes his girlfriend as the most caring person he’s ever come across. “If she sees anyone having a hard time, she’ll totally feel their pain and find ways to help them. She wants everyone around her to be happy and feel good.”
He was delighted when she joined the Shorty cast last year as stripper-turned-social worker Trina, who was killed off in a dramatic cliffhanger at the end of last year.
Being in the same industry means the pair always have someone there for support and to bounce ideas off. They help each other with scripts, learning lines and preparing for auditions.
While they’re never competitive with each other, Lucy says it’s frustrating that there appears to be more acting roles around for good-looking young men than women.
“It’s tough seeing how much more work guys get than girls,” she says as Tane nods in agreement. While she’s keen to have a crack at acting in Australia at some point, Tane has his sights set on Hollywood.
But whatever they decide, there is no doubt that the devoted young pair will tackle it together.
“We just want each other to do well,” insists Tane, who says that working on Shortland Street is a dream job. “And if that leads us to different places, that’s cool – we’ll just have to take what comes and make it work.”