I’m an actor who was extremely fortunate to star in the film The Sapphires. Following on from that wonderful experience I was lucky enough to be in season one of Redfern Now and am now about to be in the Channel 9 show, Love Child, due to be released next year.
The wonderful icing on that cake is that I happen to be a proud Larrakia/Tiwi woman from the Darwin Region. I grew up in Kakadu National Park, a beautiful part of the world. A lot of my school holidays were spent camping and swimming in waterholes. But I loved acting from a young age, and often performed for my family in the lounge room.
My parents were extremely supportive of my choice to become an actor. However, I had to prove that to my mum by working hard at school, and wasn’t able to get away with much – especially because she worked there. My mum was quite strict with me, but I give her a lot of credit for that, because it encouraged me to be more diligent with the work I do today. My dad was pretty great at reading to me before bed – that’s how I came to love reading and writing at a young age. He passed on his cheekiness too.
I was lucky enough to get into a prestigious acting school called the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). I personally felt I needed formal acting training behind me because while I had a lot of passion, I was still a bit raw. When it gets demanding to deliver a high-standard performance within a short amount of time, I have a set of skills behind me to help me overcome the mounting pressure. I believe any sort of training behind you will help set you up in your chosen career path. To me, nothing you learn is a waste of time.
Nick Waterman and I are working with Recognise to get our fellow Australians to help finish our short film Vote Yes. The film (directed by Nick) follows two women and the decisions they have to make leading up to the 1967 referendum. It ties in perfectly with the Recognise campaign, as there is a major push to change what was missed in the constitution after the 1967 referendum. I will also encouraging people to make a donation at Start Some Good.
One of the many actors I look up to professionally (and there are many) is the incredible actress Leah Purcell. She is just dynamite on screen, but even more so on stage. Her dedication to her craft as an actor inspires me to better myself every time.
On a personal level, I grew up with some formidably strong women in my life, both Indigenous from my mother’s side and non-Indigenous on my father’s. They grew up in some pretty challenging times, notably in the 1960s, when both race and gender equality were being questioned by Australian society. I realise the opportunities I’ve been given as a young, Indigenous Australian woman are because the people of that time were pushing for that change.
For me it’s the fact that an Indigenous Australian’s life expectancy is up to 20 years less than a non-Indigenous Australian. We need to improve on the awareness of good health in Indigenous communities.
After having done The Sapphires, I realise the influence that film has on its audience. People from many walks of life – old, young, Indigenous and non-Indigenous – found a connection with that film. The four main characters of were recognised as human. I hope in the future that more opportunities arise for more non-Caucasian actors to feature in mainstream Australian roles, which will make their identity more relateable to the rest of Australian society. I don’t believe in the us versus them mentality, and the medium of film has the opportunity to challenge that. I hope people feel that same connection when they watch Vote Yes:that they are able to walk in my character Elizabeth’s shoes and understand why she wants to be a citizen of Australia – and ultimately be recognised as human.