How did you first get into acting?
Well, I got into tap dancing when I was younger. I was about 5 when my mum enrolled me into a local tap dancing class in a town near Kakadu National Park. I enjoyed all of it really, wearing the leotard, tapping away and dancing to the routines. In fact from a young age, I always enjoyed performing for my parents in the lounge room.
Then growing up and seeing the likes of Deborah Mailman on screen and Leah Purcell and Lisa Flanagan, all these wonderful indigenous actress, I thought wow! This is really possible for me!
You’ve starred in some great production like The Sapphires and Love Child what have been some of your career highlights?
Definitely working with Deborah Mailman! She’s very much a down-to-earth, lovely lady. I see her as a sister girl now. I have a very different view because before then I was like oh my god
Who would you love to work with in the future?
Here are so many! Gosh, I would love to work with Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone, they would be amazing to work with. Another actress I really is Mindy Kaling, a comedienne who like Tina Fey wrote her own TV show called the Mindy Project – which I am a huge fan of.
Also, I think the fact that she’s a writer and producer of her own show and that she is an American woman of proud Indian heritage is wonderful. She’s not the stereotypical Hollywood actress, that’s really refreshing. She’s not scared to make a dag out of herself, its really fabulous.
As a young indigenous Australian actress, how does your culture influence your acting career?
My culture plays a big part in my acting. Since The Sapphires, I have been fortunate to play roles that are clearly for indigenous women. But its great to see that indigenous characters are starting to be written into mainstream Australian stories so that the indigenous actors playing them get to play that role outside of a particular historical context.
While it’s very clear in Love Child that Martha is indigenous, it’s a big part of the plot but it’s not driving the plot and that’s a really beautiful thing to start seeing on Australian television.
Love Child deals with some pretty big issues, particularly the treatment of women and gender equality. Why did you want to work on this project?
I guess as a female actor I really jump at the chance to play roles that empower women and I think this show [Love Child] certainly does!
It’s so beautiful to have women driving the story, driving this plot. There are lots of men who watch this show and I think are able to relate to it and that proves to me that ‘female’ stories aren’t just relatable to women. There are human elements to the story that affect both genders. In fact, it really helps men walk in women’s shoes and understand where they are coming from and gain a greater appreciation. Which proves to me that we need more of these kinds of shows on TV.
Do you think Love Child will inspire the women of today to become more active in women’s rights issues?
I think so. Without trying to generalise the younger generation, I couldn’t help but notice when one of my young female drama students said, “oh but we [women] are fine now aren’t we?” I guess it was a great thing for her to realise her privilege and how far women have come, I really wanted to push her to make things better, to question things.
I’m certainly not disputing that my grandmothers and my mother and my aunties haven’t had to overcome hardship especially when it has come to gender equality, but I certainly see a lot of ways in which we can improve. We can’t stop there when it comes to being aware of the treatment of women.
As an indigenous woman how do you hope to empower other women?
It’s been a great journey working with the Love Child girls because they became really aware of the fact that my character had to overcome, not only gender equality, but racial equality as well. I think that was a really great thing for those girls to learn. So, if that’s one thing to share between women then that’s really wonderful. I hope as women we can share each other’s experiences and help each other to walk in one another’s shoes and understand where we come from.
How important is it that women talk about these ‘taboo’ issues?
I think that’s what Love Child has done, it’s really given lot of women the courage to come forward and share how they were treated in this country at that time. It was a time where the questions where being asked like: Why cant I live with my partner without being married? Do I necessarily have to marry him? Why can’t it be my choice? I think that’s what the women in Love Child ask as well. Why can’t this be my choice? Why can’t I decide what happens to me?
What’s been your favourite part of playing Martha?
I think my favourite part of Love Child was the labour scene. I know that sounds really weird! It was something that was so great because Annie never got the chance to see or hold her baby. So for Martha to get that chance to say goodbye to her baby, that was a really powerful moment. Holding your baby for the first time, I would imagine as I haven’t been there yet myself, I can imagine that that moment when a mother holds her child for the first time is a really beautiful moment and its something that is creating that beautiful natural chemistry between mother and child. Not being a mother yet I don’t think I understand that but I did certainly feel the power of it, it was actually really overwhelming,
I watched a lot of episodes of One Born Every Minute [ a documentary series that follows real women giving birth] and I can understand why they are always crying, because not only have they been through copious amount of pain but that euphoric moment when you get to finally hold this being is really beautiful.
Can you tell us anything about the finale or if we can expect another season of Love Child?
Well we are defiantly locked in for another season, it’s all been confirmed on social media as well!
To be honest I don’t know what’s ahead for Martha, but I’m sure there are lots of exciting things to come. We are about to start filming soon so I can’t wait to find out what’s install, I can’t wait for that first table read. I have to admit I wish I was a fly on the wall in the writer’s rooms to see what they have install for Martha, I’m just bursting to know.
The Love Child season one finale will air on Monday 7th April.