Neighbours star Georgie Stone has spoken about the nuanced representation and fairytale endings for her character, Mackenzie Hargreaves, as the Aussie soap reboot hits our screens.
Since arriving on Ramsey Street in August 2019, Mackenzie has firmly carved herself out as a fan-favourite. The transgender character, portrayed by award-winning trans rights activist Stone, marked a major milestone for LGBTQ+ representation in soaps.
“Mackenzie means so much to me,” Stone tells PinkNews. “She’s a character I helped create because I pitched the idea to the executive producer, so she has always meant a lot to me.
“And the fact that she is the first acting role I’ve ever had, and the only one so far, [makes her] feel like a part of me. I feel so honoured to be back playing her, because there are so many more stories we can tell.”
Mackenzie underwent gender-affirming surgery, healed a rift with her father years after he rejected her for coming out as a trans woman, and experienced a doomed fairytale romance with husband Hendrix (Ben Turland), who died just days after they tied the knot.
When Neighbours was axed in 2022, after Channel 5 ended their distribution contract with the long-running series, fans were devastated to see Mackenzie’s life end in tragedy.
However, Amazon Freevee picked up the series – a move that left Stone “gagged” – and new episodes began streaming this week.
While Mackenzie’s trans identity is explored within the series, it is not the character’s central plot point. Instead, she undergoes the typical trials and tribulations which befall most soap characters.
“There are so few instances of positive representation and trans characters who aren’t reduced to their transness being their defining character trait,” Stone adds.
“I feel really excited that we get to continue telling lots of different stories that don’t reduce or erase her transness but also get to show there’s more to her than just that. I feel so proud that we get to do that in this show. It feels great.”
As for what fans can expect from Mackenzie’s plot arc, viewers will see her hitting it off with new residents rolling into Erinsborough, Karl’s daughter Holly (Lucinda Armstrong-Hall), and Haz Devkar (Shiv Palekar).
“We [Stone and Armstrong-Hall] hit it off in real life and that is reflected on screen so I am really excited for fans to see that dynamic. Also, the budding relationship between Mackenzie and Haz, that is gonna be really cool. My favourite moments of filming are with them,” Stone says.
Although fans were clamouring for Mackenzie to finally get a happy ending, Stone says viewers shouldn’t hold their breath.
“One of the really cool developments in Mackenzie’s story is [that she is] trying to find joy and happiness in her life. I think she’s moved beyond the fairytale. She was just 20 when she married Hendrix and that was her fairytale that ended in his death.
“Now, two years later, she is in a better place. She wants to find love, she wants to be happy but she’s not on a quest for a fairytale any more. She’s a bit more realistic and grown up.
“That’s a really good lesson. Just because that fairytale is over and she’s not going to have that perfect life, it doesn’t mean she can’t find happiness and fulfilment.”
Neighbours airs Monday to Thursdays on Channel 10 in Australia and on Amazon Freevee internationally.
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