Here Come the Habibs star to keep pushing boundaries
SOMETIMES comedy is the best medicine, and the best way to start an otherwise difficult conversation.
Kat Hoyos is out to do both with her role in Nine's controversial comedy Here Come the Habibs.
The series, about a Lebanese family winning the lottery and moving to Sydney's posh eastern suburbs, made headlines when it premiered last year. Some viewers accused the show of being racist, while others lamented the reinforcement of stereotypes of the Lebanese community.
Now back for a second series, Kat says she and the rest of the cast aren't shying away.
"In season one you are establishing the characters and story a bit more, and because of that now we understand who we are so we can say more,” she tells The Guide.
"Season two is much bigger. It's more colourful and everything's just lifted to another level. In terms of the controversy, it probably will be controversial because that's what comedy does. It seeks out and explores taboo subjects and then we will release the tension.
"We still push those boundaries.”
In season two, Habib patriarch Fou Fou now owns the O'Neills' house next door and Jack and Olivia have been renting under his rules.
Despite Jack's best attempts he can't win back his business losses and he struggles to pay rent to the Habibs. Layla (Kat), meanwhile, meddles with her family in a documentary on racism, finds herself up for school captain and steals her dad's precious car for burnouts.
"She's exploring that independent side even more so this season,” Kat says.
"Layla has always been very cluey and switched on. If something isn't right she'll say it. She's the voice of reason, if you like, for the family.”
Kat, 26, is of Colombian heritage and sees plenty of similarities between the Latin American and Middle Eastern communities.
"I get asked 'Is it weird you're playing a Lebanese character?'. I say it's not because South Americans, Latinos, Spanish, European, all those ethnicities, we're all quite similar,” she says.
"We're big on food and music, we can be quite religious and we're all about family. The only thing that separates us is the language.”
Kat believes shows celebrating diversity are an important tool against fear and discrimination.
"Our show couldn't have come at a better time because unfortunately there's been a bit of a backlash against Middle Eastern people,” she says.
"It's about time we start talking about the positives rather than the negatives.”
Here Come the Habibs - Nine - Mondays at 8pm