Shorty star Reid’s high-school sweetheart
Even though Reid Walker has played Harry Warner on ShortlandStreet since the age of nine, it was only in 2017 that he became known worldwide. The infamous line “Please tell me that is not your penis!”, uttered by his on-screen dad Michael Galvin, made it all the way to the US, with Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Kimmel re-enacting the scene. But it wasn’t without its embarrassment, as Reid, 18, found on his first date with girlfriend Leah. “We were just walking through Sylvia Park mall when someone yelled the line out at me. It certainly was a way to make the first date memorable, but thankfully, it was more funny than awkward. Here we are over a year later – so it can’t have scared Leah off too much!” laughs Reid. Acting on TVNZ 2’s ShortlandStreet for almost a decade might have given Reid a large following, but his biggest fan by far is his girlfriend Leah Pereira, also 18. The gorgeous uni student was an avid watcher of the beloved Kiwi soap before she met the star, so when Reid turned up on her doorstep as a friend’s date for a school ball, she was more than a little taken aback. “I remember I made an absolute fool of myself,” the teaching student confesses. “I said, ‘Hi, I’m Leah. I’m the one who watches ShortlandStreet,’ and then I thought, ‘Why did I say that?!’ I bolted. It was so terrible.” Reid doesn’t remember this initial meeting, but he admits to Woman’sDay that he finds it cute hearing about it now. There’s no mistaking the sweet
bond between Reid and Leah during our photo shoot as he sweeps her off her feet and carries her over a patch of muddy grass to get the perfect shot. It isn’t often that Leah gets to be in front of the camera – she’s regularly relegated to standing behind the lens when fans spot her famous boyfriend out and about.
Reid jokes, “Leah always ends up taking the pictures, which is nice. I’ve got my own personal photographer!”
But Leah understands the fans’ enthusiasm when they see someone from TV in real life. She smiles, “Seeing people getting excited to see him is really sweet – that there are other people out there who appreciate him just the way that I do.”
The lovebirds recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, but their relationship has been a lot longer in the making. After that initial meeting, their friendship groups merged and over the next year, Reid and Leah found themselves gravitating toward each other at parties.
“She was always fun to talk to and it was never a hassle,” explains the actor. “She is drama-free.”
It was only natural that exactly a year after their first encounter, the pair chose to go to their respective school balls together and that’s where the magic happened.
Leah recalls, “We weren’t together at that point, but at every ball there’s a time where everyone slow-dances. Because we weren’t dating, it was really awkward, like, ‘Do we or do we not?’”
Eventually, she asked Reid to dance to a Bruno Mars song – and he made the first move.
Giving his girlfriend a cheeky glance, he tells, “I was building up to it, but then I kissed her while we were slow-dancing, so I think I deserve credit for that.”
Leah admits the smooch was a pleasant surprise. She smiles, “Reid was just a really good friend, but never in a million years did I think he would date someone like me. I don’t know why, but it was a little bit of my own insecurities. I mean, he’s on TV and I was completely happy with the relationship we had.”
Fast-forward a year and the sweethearts are happy as can be – Leah even serenaded Reid with a surprise rendition of the Amy Winehouse hit “Valerie” for their anniversary. “He teared up a little bit,” she tells, smiling at Reid.
“No, I didn’t,” he insists, laughing. “I had something in my eye!”
After taking a break from acting to focus on his engineering studies, Reid reappeared on Short land Street last week, when his character Harry returned from a student exchange in China with a baby boy named Xun in tow.
The introduction of a newborn to Ferndale is an adjustment for Reid, who has little experience with kids. Leah says, “He has a one-year-old cousin and that’s about the extent of it, so I was really apprehensive to see what he would be like.
“I love children, but we’re still really young and it’s not in our minds at all,” tells Leah. “We don’t take life too seriously and we’re focused on having fun for now.”