H2O: Just Add Water’s Kim (Cleo Massey) on growing up on the show

‘H2O: Just Add Water’ star Cleo Massey, who played Kim, sat down with Yahoo Lifestyle Australia to chat all about her experience on the iconic show.

Video transcript

CLEO MASSEY: But I remember meeting them and thinking, they're so pretty. [LAUGHS] And I'm just, like, this 11-year-old girl that hasn't grown into herself yet being like, oh my god, who are these angels. No, Cleo!


So I was 11 years old. I was super young. I wasn't-- I was kind of in the industry but not really. Like, my mom was a performing arts teacher, so I kind of did drama and I was an extra on a few different productions when I was younger, but nothing big. So this audition came along for, you know, this show called "H2O, Just Add Water," which meant nothing to us at the time. And they wanted me to audition for this role of Kim.

And they said that anyone who gets the role-- because Phoebe Tonkin was already cast as Cleo, which was a coincidence in itself-- they wanted the character of Kim to dye their hair to match Phoebe's hair. And as an 11-year-old with light blonde hair, that was terrifying. So I didn't want the role. I walked in there going, like, I'll do the audition because Mom, like-- Mom's like, come on. Like, just do it, have fun. Like, you know, we'll see what happens kind of thing.

And when I walked into the audition room, too, it was just filled with these beautiful looking girls with, like, dark, long, thick hair, beautiful tanned skin. And I've, like, walked into the studio sunburnt just from the walk in with, like, my blonde hair and just-- I just remember thinking I'm so out of place. Like, this is-- I'm not going to get this.

Anyway, so three or four days later we got the call. And I just heard Mom being like, oh my god, she got it? Like, wow, that's amazing. And I remember sitting in the backseat of the car being like, I don't want it. I don't want it. I don't want to dye my hair. I don't want to dye my hair. Like, so terrified, like, what's everyone at school going to think. I was in year seven. And then I hear Mom go, and she doesn't have to dye her hair? Because Phoebe's real sister actually has blonde hair like me and we actually look quite similar. So thanks to her I didn't have to dye my hair.

I was, honestly, really lucky at school to be-- I don't know. I guess I was an easy target for bullying but it didn't happen at school. And I was so lucky. Like, I had the best group of girlfriends who are still my best friends to this day. And at school no one-- like, everyone thought it was cool, but it was no-- like, they all knew me already. So I think it was-- people found it kind of interesting that I wouldn't be at school a lot and then I'd kind of come to school sometimes when I wasn't filming.

But I was really lucky during school with the-- my peers, I guess you could say. Look, there was always, like, comments made here and there. Like, I do remember, I think I got like-- I got a lead in one of, like, the school plays. And, like, someone made a comment being like, it's just 'cause, like, she's famous or whatever. And I remember that cut me deep because I was like, no. It's because I, like, I deserve the role. OK? But so there was little things like that, but honestly nothing major. The major stuff happened online with people who I didn't know.

I think from memory it was on a Friday afternoon at like-- like, 4:00 or 5:00. And, yeah, sometimes, like, my friends would come back to my house after school and we'd watch it. Like, me, Mom, Dad, and my brother Joey would always watch it. But, yeah, sometimes I'd have friends over.

And I can't-- we'd only seen a couple of episodes. Like, I think we had a little viewing in the studios of one episode or two episodes. But really I was sitting down to watch it, like, for the first time sometimes. So it was, like, pretty nerve wracking.

Well, the first day I went in and met everyone and we did a script reading. I remember walking in and meeting Phoebe and Claire. I don't think Cariba was there. But I remember meeting them and thinking they're so pretty. [LAUGHS] And I'm just, like, this 11-year-old girl that hasn't grown into herself yet being like, oh my god, who are these angels.

I remember being really, really nervous. But I was really nurtured, I think, because I was the youngest. I was just treated so well on that set. It was so funny because, like, Phoebe's lovely and we got along so well. And then, obviously, when the cameras started rolling, like, we hate each other. But it was that-- like, I feel like Cleo and Kimmy had this nice relationship where, you know, they loved each other so much but there was a lot of conflict there, like any sister relationship, any sibling relationship, I guess.

I'll never forget-- I think it was season one. Cleo's coming down the stairs, as in Phoebe, and she's going on a date with, I think, Louis. And I say to my onscreen dad or mom, like, why? She's so ugly. And I remember everyone laughing. It was such a ridiculous line. Like, here I am this, like, 12-year-old girl going, oh my god, why is she going on a date. She's so ugly. Like, Phoebe Tonkin-- ugly. She's the most beautiful woman in the world. And I got permission to, like, say that and be a brat. And so I loved playing-- playing Kim. Like, I got away with saying whatever I wanted to say, even if it was completely untrue.

When I was over in LA I caught up with Cariba quite a bit. She's-- she's so lovely. I'm still close with Brittany, who played Charlotte. She's amazing. She lives in Sydney. Trent, who plays Elliot-- we both live on the Gold Coast still. He's such a legend. He's actually about to become a dad. Claire-- we message on Instagram quite a bit but, you know, she's over in LA. So, yeah, everyone's like, around in their world. But it looks like Phoebe and Claire are still really close, which is nice, because I think they're over in LA together. But, yeah. Like, literally everyone who works on H2O was such legends. And, like, everyone just got along so well.

I got to try it on for the blooper reel. And it was honestly the best thing in the world. Because, obviously, I'd been filming this show for, like, four years getting to watch these girls getting these incredible tales. And I was just like, make me a mermaid!

And then Jonathan, the producer, was like, Cleo, let's do, like, a blooper reel for the wrap party. Let's pop you in a tail. And I was like, obviously yes. So they popped me on the table. They put me in the tail. And then they flip the table up and you just go into the water.

And there's got to be, like, three stuntmen in the water per mermaid tail. Because I can't remember the weight of them, but they are heavy, like, really, really heavy. And if you're not like, that you kind of just like, sink . When you, like, go like that with your legs, you just fly. It's honestly like I felt like a dolphin. And after they were finished filming for the blooper reel they were like, OK. Like, it's time to get out. And I was like--

I woke up one morning and my other DM inbox was full of voice messages. And I was like, what? And I listened to them and they were all just, "Cleo!" And I was like, what is going on? And I didn't even have TikTok at this stage so I did not know what was going on. And then I downloaded TikTok and I saw.

It's so-- it's crazy. And, like, I feel like too I'm getting recognized more now than I was, like, 10 years ago. It's just such a magical show, isn't it? And there's such nice messages in the show, and it's easy to watch, and it's magical for these kids. And I say kids, but it's magical for adults, too. Like, I have so many people that are my age and older saying that it's their escape and that they just love to, you know, sit down and just escape to that magical world, and especially people from overseas who, like, they love the lifestyle of looking at the Gold Coast and Australia, and seeing how that plays out.

And, yeah, it was so cool to be a part of that show. And when I was on set, as well, I felt that magic, as well. Like, I felt in the world. I remember going home and kind of being like, I want to be Kim. Like, I want to be a brat and get away with it, of course. But just the world that Jonathan created was so magical and was so special. So it's really nice that it's kept going. Like, I hope I can show my kids one day.

Oh my god, it was really sad. Like, the wrap party, there were many tears. And I think there was a lot of question about why we did finish. Because, you know, it still was going so well. But Jonathan wanted to finish on a high, and I actually really-- I'm so glad that we did, even though keeping on going would have been amazing. Maybe I would have been a mermaid. [LAUGHS]

But I'm so glad we finished because I would have hated for the show to go downhill in any way. And I think we did what we came to do. And we made a magical show and left people wanting more. So I was back and forward to LA a lot. I had my acting visa and I was auditioning a lot over there. And, honestly, I didn't fit in over there. I didn't like the competitiveness. I didn't like the negativity.

So while I was over there and just feeling so like I just had-- like, it kind of took my hope away of the acting industry and why I loved the acting industry. Because I love to act to make people feel something-- to feel happy or to laugh or to feel that emotion or to escape from their day. And I-- LA made me lose that, lose sight of why I was actually doing it.

So I created my blog called "Pass Around the Smile," which was all about positivity, and manifesting, meditation, self-love, the law of attraction. Because it gave me hope that I could manifest, you know, the role that I wanted and manifest the kind of actor that I wanted to be without conditions, without all of the other stuff that made me uncomfortable in the industry, that made me feel like crap. Because it is a really hard industry. Like, you're constantly getting rejected. You're constantly being told no, constantly being compared.

So, yeah, I started "Pass Around the Smile" to kind of help myself and then it started helping others. And I found this, like, huge passion with helping others. And now Pass Around the Smile is a company. And I sell positive guidance cards, and I make journals, and I hold events on, like, positivity and the power of the mind. And it's honestly brought me so much joy and so much fulfillment. And I think because I'm feeling fulfilled in a way now I am getting the roles that I wanted.

So I'm working on a few comedy projects at the moment. I have actually co-wrote a series with my mom called "Stage Moms" that got picked up by Network 10. So it's like, everything's happening how it should now and just a reminder to trust the process. Because sometimes things don't go the way we want them to, but it always makes sense in the end.

So now I'm kind of-- I'm doing the acting roles that I like. I've filmed, like, an amazing comedy pilot last year. I'm filming a little comedy project next week. Just the things in the acting world that make me happy I get to do, and I also get to do "Pass Around the Smile."

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