Jono lasts the dis­tance

Chas­ing the big roles is tear­ing them apart!

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - News -

Mov­ing to the bright lights of Hol­ly­wood has been a dream come true for Kiwi ac­tor Jono Kenyon. But his new home in Los An­ge­les has come with a bit­ter­sweet twist – leav­ing be­hind the love of his life Stephanie Ken­nard.

Yet de­spite the chal­lenges, their long-dis­tance love has en­dured and on a brief visit home to New Zealand in be­tween au­di­tions, the for­mer Step Dave star, 28, looks as smit­ten as ever with his girl­friend of five years.

“Steph is very gen­uine in her ap­proach to life,” he smiles. “It’s easy to get stuck in the non­sense in this cul­ture we live in, es­pe­cially in our gen­er­a­tion with so­cial me­dia and also liv­ing in LA. For Steph, she’ll never fall into that trap – she’s very pure and hon­est. I love that about her.”

The love­birds met at a win­ery party, with Jono notic­ing Steph sev­eral times through­out the evening be­fore fi­nally pluck­ing up the courage to in­tro­duce him­self.

The English-born, NZ-raised ac­tor re­calls, “My open­ing line was, ‘What are you look­ing for?’ be­cause she’d been walk­ing around so much, I thought she was look­ing for some­thing. I was hop­ing she would say, ‘You!’ She didn’t, but we car­ried on talk­ing and the rest is his­tory.”

How­ever, Steph, who runs her own cre­ative dig­i­tal agency, adds they haven’t ex­actly had a fairy­tale ride when it comes to their re­la­tion­ship.

“We’re the ex­cep­tion to the story of fall­ing in love in­stantly – it took us a while,” the Auck­lan­der con­fesses. “To me, if you fall in love in­stantly, you miss a lot. There’s a big­ger chance that you’re go­ing to fall off the edge and things are go­ing to mess up.

“We just built it up quite strongly over the course of a year and a half, and had a re­ally good ground of friend­ship. We have re­ally good com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

But when Jono moved to the States over two years ago, ini­tially the pair de­cided to break up and fo­cus on their own sep­a­rate lives.

“He started his LA ca­reer when I was go­ing all-out with my busi­ness, so we each had pas­sions out­side of our­selves, which were dis­trac­tions,” tells Steph. “We tried to go our own way in the be­gin­ning and it didn’t work be­cause we kept get­ting to­gether. I would be trav­el­ling and think, ‘Oh, it’s just a cou­ple of hun­dred dol­lars ex­tra to go to LA on my way home.’

“And then he would come back to New Zealand for some­thing and we were just drawn to each other.”

Nod­ding, Jono adds, “In the end, the dis­tance made our re­la­tion­ship stronger. The thing with a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship is that we both have to have some­thing to care about out­side of the re­la­tion­ship. It can’t be ev­ery­thing – you can be an in­di­vid­ual within your cou­ple. That’s why we’re here to­gether to­day.”

Cur­rently, Steph is try­ing to travel to LA ev­ery six weeks, but they have been sep­a­rated for up to three months. Her sup­port has been im­por­tant to Jono as he faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture and tricky au­di­tions in the some­times heart­less world of Hol­ly­wood.

Kiwi fans caught sight of him re­cently dur­ing a guest role in lo­cal drama 800Words and while he’s had a few small parts in the US, book­ing jobs has been a strug­gle with­out per­ma­nent res­i­dency.

“You can have one or no au­di­tions, or you can have six a week,” he ex­plains. “There was one au­di­tion that I had this pi­lot sea­son where the pro­duc­ers ended up want­ing me and I was very close to get­ting it un­til the stu­dios blocked it.

“There was a lot of panic over visas be­cause they didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on me and book a six-year deal if I can’t re­new my green card. It’s pos­i­tive but also frus­trat­ing.”

While his fu­ture in Hol­ly­wood is un­clear, one thing Jono can al­ways count on is Steph. They cel­e­brated their fifth an­niver­sary on July 4, In­de­pen­dence Day in the US, which the love­birds have re­named “No Longer In­de­pen­dent Day”.

It’s clear the 10,500km that usu­ally sep­a­rates this pair doesn’t faze them, with Jono con­clud­ing, “We’re not the most sen­ti­men­tal cou­ple. The only rule is that I have to pick her up from the air­port!”

Break­ing into the LA scene has been hard, but Jono’s con­fi­dent the per­fect role’s out there for him.

They don’t make LA girls like Steph! “She’s very pure and hon­est,” says Jono. “I love that about her.”

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