By LIA SPENCER
Jax Novoa is a household name to millions of young Nickelodeon fans. But to his family and friends in Berwick and surrounds, he’s the same ol’ Rahart who grew up with a passion for acting and a drive for success. Rahart Sadiqzai is well and truly on his way to becoming an international movie star but is whole-heartedly grateful and refreshingly level-headed. The 19-year-old actor credits his loving family for keeping him grounded while encouraging him to soar.
IF HOME is where the heart is, then it’s easy to see why a young American heart-throb keeps coming back to Berwick.
Rahart Sadiqzai, or Rahart Adams to his millions of fans throughout the world, splits his time between television sets and auditions in Miami and Los Angeles. But the 19-year-old actor said Berwick, where his close-knit family and loyal friends are, will always be his home.
Rahart grew up the second of four children to parents Adam and Victoria who run successful businesses Khan’s Hospitality Services and Moroccan Joe’s. They encouraged Rahart to find a “creative outlet” and gave him unwavering support to follow his dreams.
Before his 18th birthday, the former Haileybury student already had a list of credentials that could easily make his peers envious.
Fortunately, Rahart never bore the brunt of jealousy and his friends never treated him differently despite his growing success.
While juggling schoolwork and working casually for his parents, Rahart appeared on a number of commercials, landed a guest role as Alistair O’Loughlin on Neighbours and scored the lead part of Sam Conte on ABC’s Emmy nominated children series Nowhere Boys.
But it wasn’t until he got noticed by fans in Bali that he realised he was on his way to stardom.
“I was with my family on a trip to Bali and a family asked if I was Sam from Nowhere Boys. The little girl was saying she loved me,” he said.
“It felt surreal. I put it on my Instagram because I was so surprised! It made things feel real – that people actually watched me!”
Motivated to find fame on an international scale, Rahart wrote down goals on a piece of paper and stuck it in his room. On that list was to find management in America and get offered a full-time role.
The first goal came a week after writing it down, the second goal came only a couple of months later.
After graduating, Adam joined Rahart on a quick trip to LA.
“I was only supposed to go for a week and a half for a course,” Rahart said. “It was supposed to be a learning experience.”
During his short time there, Rahart spoke with Paramount who took an interest in him. They asked him to audition for Nickelodeon on the morning he was flying back to Australia.
Five minutes before the audition, while sitting patiently in the waiting room, Rahart received a surprise email with a script he was meant to read.
Rahart said he “freaked out.” With little preparation, Rahart calmed his nerves and read the script off the phone he held in his hand.
“I killed it,” he said. “They all were in stitches and seemed to really like me.”
Rahart flew back to Melbourne where he was asked to do video-upload auditions for a Nickelodeon show called Every Witch Way. Without being offered a job, he was asked to fly back to America for a few days of auditions and costume fitting in Miami.
It wasn’t until he and his dad were shopping at a mall that Rahart got a phone call offering him the role of Jax Novoa.
“My management team asked me if I was sitting down and told me to go to a quiet area where we could talk, so I thought I was definitely going to get bad news,” he said.
“But they said that my visa went through and Nickelodeon wanted me to start working that same day. It was pretty emotional. There were a lot of tears and hugs.”
Rahart then called his mother who was back in Melbourne to tell her the great news.
The following few months were a huge learning curve for the young man. His dad had flown back to Berwick, but when Rahart became overwhelmed with the unfamiliarity of his new lifestyle, he called on his dad to pay him another visit.
“I had just turned 18 and never spent two or three weeks away from my family, let alone three months. I called Dad and said ‘I need your help’ and he was on the flight the next day,” he said.
“Things that seemed so mundane were difficult. I don’t have an American licence so trying to work out how to get around was hard. I was also used to home cooking so I had to learn to cook for myself. At first I was terrible but I am a lot better now!”
More than a year later, Rahart has adapted to his new surroundings and has made new “life-long” friends in both Miami and LA. He has also captured the hearts of millions of Nickelodeon viewers throughout the world.
On a season finale of Every Witch Way, the female character Emma had to choose between Jax (Rahart) and another cast member Daniel. Over 10 million people voted for who she should choose, with 70 per cent of the votes swinging in Rahart’s favour.
The series has been nominated for Favourite TV Show in the 2015 Kids Choice Awards.
“I grew up watching Nickelodeon and I love working with them. I pinch myself all the time, but I have only touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I want to achieve in my career,” he said.
“There are so many people I want to work with – Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman.
“(Hugh Jackman) is one of my influences. He comes from a good family like me, who supports him. He never let anyone hold him back and I don’t want anything to hold me back. I like the person he is. He doesn’t let Hollywood get to his head. I try to stay grounded and always take a step back to be thankful for what I have.”
Rahart credits his family and friends for keeping him level-headed and for reminding him to be thankful for his many blessings in life.
“I love coming home. Berwick will always be my home. My friends and family still treat me the same,” he said.
“When I am home I am living under my parents’ roof and have to stick to their rules. I still have to take the rubbish out.”
Once home, he enjoys helping out at his parents’ bustling restaurant. He loves relaxing with friends and spending quality time with his sisters Atia and Zarmina and brother Imran.
Imran, 11, wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps and is already scoring leading roles for television commercials.
Adam and Victoria said their children’s health and happiness was their number one priority.
“It’s been such a rollercoaster and a huge learning experience but we have quickly adapted. We are excited for Rahart,” Adam said.
“We have always wanted them to have a creative outlet and that is what he is doing. It’s his career path and he is excelling in it.”
Adam has joined Rahart on his latest adventure, shooting a Nickelodeon movie in Vancouver, Canada. Rahart will be there for four months, and said the hardest part would be being away from his family.
“It’s still hard to be away from them. They are everything to me.”