Deborah Mailman Collection
The NFSA is celebrating AACTA, AFI, Deadly and Logie award-winning actor Deborah Mailman in this online collection covering her stellar screen career.
Alongside her extensive work in theatre, Deborah has an impressive list of film and TV credits dating back to the late 1990s.
Highlights featured in this collection include her 1998 film debut Radiance, which the NFSA digitally restored in 2021, and the 2019 political drama series Total Control, a recent NFSA acquisition.
As well as being one of Australia's favourite actors, Deborah Mailman is also an important figure in First Nations filmmaking and storytelling. Her work has been part of a movement that has reframed the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island actors are cast in mainstream productions and helped empower Aboriginal artists to tell their own stories.
We hope you enjoy this showcase of Deborah Mailman's phenomenal talents.
Main image: Deborah Mailman in a publicity still from Mabo (2012). NFSA title: 1062165. Photographer: Matt Nettheim. Courtesy Blackfella Films.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons.
In this excerpt from the 1998 AFI Awards ceremony, held at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre on 7 November 1998, actors Guy Pearce and Greta Scacchi present the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.
The award goes to Deborah Mailman for her portrayal of Nona in Radiance (Rachel Perkins, 1998), about 3 sisters who have reunited following the death of their mother.
Mailman was not at the ceremony that night. Instead, she accepted her award and gave a speech in a live cross to the Sydney Opera House, where she was playing Cordelia in the Bell Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear.
Genuinely happy and surprised to win, Mailman's speech is interrupted first by the sound of a boat on the harbour and then a lightning display as it starts to rain!
At age 26, Mailman already had an impressive list of theatre credits to her name, including the stage production of Radiance and the one-woman show The Seven Stages of Grieving. However, the film adaptation of Radiance was Mailman’s first role in feature films or television.
Mailman is the first Aboriginal woman to win the Best Actress AFI award. To date, she has won 5 additional AFI/AACTA Awards for her film and TV work, in Bran Nue Dae (Best Supporting Actress, 2010), Offspring (Guest or Supporting Actress in a TV Drama, 2010), The Sapphires (Actress, 2013), Mystery Road (Guest or Supporting Actress in a TV Drama, 2018) and Total Control (Lead Actress in a TV Drama, 2019).
In this scene from Radiance (1998), Nona (Deborah Mailman) plays a recording of her famous opera-singer sister Cressy (Rachael Maza) singing 'Un bel dì, vedremo' from Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
Nona lip-syncs to the recording and re-enacts a tragic scene from the opera, as Cressy and Mae (Trisha Morton-Thomas) watch in amusement.
The scene reinforces Nona's reverence of her talented and accomplished sister, despite a long period of separation. It follows a scene where Nona thwarts Cressy's attempts to leave by making sure she misses her flight.
The NFSA completed a full digital restoration of Radiance in 2021.
Warning: This clip contains spoilers.
This clip is from the gripping final episode of season 1 of Total Control (2019).
During a dressing-down from the Australian Prime Minister(Rachel Griffiths), Alex Irving (Deborah Mailman) makes some damning allegations about a senior member of Parliament (David Roberts) after an informant is suddently killed in what Alex believes are suspicious circumstances.
In the political drama Total Control, Deborah Mailman plays an Aboriginal woman who has become a local hero in her community but gets recruited to Parliament in a cynical and tokenistic political power play.
This clip from The Sapphires (Wayne Blair, 2012) features a key moment in the film where we discover the reason behind the fraught relationship between Gail (Deborah Mailman) and her cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), who has been living in Melbourne for 10 years and has had little contact with the family.
An emotional Gail recalls to band manager Dave (Chris O’Dowd) the story of how Kay was stolen from the family in the 1950s by the government.
This story about the Stolen Generations is an important inclusion in the film. It shows the devastating and lasting impact that such government interventions had on Aboriginal families and communities.
The Sapphires is based on the 2004 stage play of the same name by actor, writer and producer Tony Briggs, which in turn is based on the true story of a group of young Aboriginal women who travel to Vietnam during the war in the late 1960s to entertain the troops.
Briggs’ mother and aunt were both members of the original Sapphires and, after the stage show was a hit, he adapted the story for a feature film.
Mailman also starred in the original stage production of The Sapphires as Cynthia.
Deborah Mailman won her first Logie award for Most Outstanding Actress in 2002 for her role in The Secret Life of Us.
She appeared on Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton shortly after her big win to talk about her career and how life had changed for her since making the series.
During the interview we see footage from the awards ceremony, where Mailman looks quite shocked at winning the award, as she describes feeling genuinely overwhelmed.
To date, Mailman has since won 3 more Logie awards for Most Outstanding Actress – in 2004 for The Secret Life of Us, 2013 for Mabo and 2016 for Redfern Now.
She has the most wins in this category, just ahead of her The Secret Life of Us co-star Claudia Karvan, who has won 3 times.
Popular comedy-drama television series Offspring (2010–2017) centred around the chaotic life of Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie), her quirky family and friends, high-pressure career as an obstetrician and her messy love-life.
Deborah Mailman played the role of midwife Cherie Butterfield in all 7 seasons of Offspring. Cherie also happens to be the mother of Nina’s baby stepbrother Ray – the result of a fling with Nina’s father Darcy (John Waters).
In this excerpt from series 1, episode 10 of Offspring, Cherie is on a high after a few encounters with a handsome admirer (Paul Denny) that she is excited to tell Nina and Billie (Kat Stewart) about.
Like Kelly in The Secret Life of Us, the character of Cherie is not defined by her race. Rather her identity is that of a 30-something woman who is dealing with life, navigating her way through motherhood and exploring new relationships.
Deborah Mailman’s big break in television came with her role as Kelly Lewis in The Secret Life of Us (2001–2005), a TV drama about a group of 20-somethings living in an apartment block in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda.
In this scene from series 2, episode 6, we see how Kelly is dealing with the fallout from an argument with her boyfriend Nathan (Todd MacDonald) while, at the same time, managing the stress of a big job interview.
This excerpt also features Mary Coustas playing the role of Kelly’s potential new boss, as well as two other main cast members, Claudia Karvan (Dr Alex Christensen) and Samuel Johnson (writer Evan Wylde).
This episode was directed by Cate Shortland (Somersault, 2004; Black Widow, 2021).
Deborah Mailman set out in 2006 with one of Australia’s best-known Olympians, gold medallist Cathy Freeman, to meet remote Aboriginal communities from Broome to Arnhem Land.
They journeyed to discover what life is like for the people who live there and to hear stories of their ancestors. Their trip was documented by Lonely Planet TV in the 4-part series Going Bush.
In this excerpt from their trip to Bunuba Country near the Kimberley in episode 1, they meet their tour guide and traditional owner Dylan Andrews.
He performs a welcoming ceremony before guiding them to some ancient caves. Here he tells them the story of Wandjina, one of the powerful Creation Spirits from the Dreamtime, as depicted in the 4,000-year-old ancient rock paintings on the walls of the caves.
The wide, sweeping shots of their car driving along a dirt road through the vast countryside convey the remoteness of the communities they are visiting, while plotting their route on a map of Western Australia helps to put their location into context for people not familiar with that part of the country.
Aerial shots of the rocks and hidden caves also effectively locate us in the ancient and rugged landscape.
Mailman’s narration over the footage of the welcoming ceremony sets a tone of calm and safety, while the close-up camera work in the caves adds weight to the solemnity of the occasion, revealing the profound effect this experience is having on the two visitors.
In 2006, two of the country's best-known and loved personalities, actor Deborah Mailman and Olympian Cathy Freeman, set out to meet remote Aboriginal communities from Broome to Arnhem Land.
They wanted to discover what life is like for people living there and to hear stories of their ancestors. Their trip was documented by Lonely Planet TV in the 4-part series Going Bush.
In this excerpt from episode 4, the two women reach a small remote community in Arnhem Land, the Manmoyi Outstation. They join Aboriginal band Nabarlek in their recording studio and then speak to some of the Elders in the community.
Mailman and Freeman slot into the band with ease and the footage of Nabarlek playing one of their songs in the recording studio is a great reminder of the depth of talent and artistry that can be found in these remote parts of the country.
We also see how the women have a natural rapport with the community Elders. From a viewer perspective, it feels almost like the cameras are eavesdropping on a private conversation as the Elders explain how they influence the band.
This clip provides a sense of just how small and close-knit many of these communities are and how the younger generation look to their Elders for help in keeping their culture alive through storytelling and music.
The camera also manages to capture how comfortable Mailman and Freeman have become, not only with each other along the journey, but with meeting new communities and families who lead vastly different lives to them.
In 2006, Deborah Mailman and Cathy Freeman took part in a series titled Going Bush by Lonely Planet TV. During the series, Mailman and Freeman travelled to remote Aboriginal communities from Broome to Arnhem Land to discover what life is like and to hear stories of their ancestors.
In this excerpt from an interview with Rhoda Roberts on the Indigenous radio program Deadly Sounds, Mailman talks about how she jumped at the opportunity to make the series and what it was like to build a relationship with Freeman.
This clip is important in understanding what motivated Deborah to make Going Bush. Her enthusiasm and passion for the project is apparent in how she talks about it and we can tell from this interview that it was a life-changing experience for her.
She is also refreshingly candid about not really knowing Freeman before the shoot, and talks with obvious warmth about their working relationship on the project.
Deadly Sounds was a weekly one-hour Indigenous radio program featuring interviews with special guests and music by Indigenous artists. Hosted by journalist, actor and author Rhoda Roberts, it ran for 21 years from 1993 to 2014.
Cover image: Publicity still from Going Bush. NFSA title: 684926.
This short interview excerpt with Deborah Mailman takes place on the set of The Sapphires, a 2012 film directed by Wayne Blair based on the true story of an Aboriginal girl group who toured South-East Asia entertaining US troops during the Vietnam War.
Mailman describes her role as that of the big sister and protector of her younger sisters and cousin, played in the movie by Jessica Mauboy, Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens.
Mailman won her second AFI/AACTA Award for Lead Actress in a Feature Film for The Sapphires, after first winning the award for Radiance (1998).
Warning: This clip contains spoilers.
In this clip from series 1, episode 6 of Total Control (2019), Alex (Deborah Mailman) tries to force Jonathan (Harry Richardson) to resign for his own good.
However, Jonathan reveals information that he's discovered that confirms Alex's suspicions of a high-level cover-up and corruption surrounding the death in custody of an Aboriginal girl.
Total Control is a political drama series starring Rachel Griffiths as the Australian Prime Minister and Deborah Mailman as Alex Irving. An unlikely national hero, Alex is catapulted into government in a cynical power play.
Used, abandoned and underestimated, she embarks on a path that sends the political establishment into meltdown.
Deborah Mailman won the 2019 AACTA Award for Lead Actress in a TV Drama for season 1 of Total Control.
In 2015, Deborah Mailman joined Cate Blanchett to co-host the Australian film and television industry’s night of nights – the AACTA Awards, for productions released in 2014. Mailman became the first Aboriginal woman to host the ceremony.
In this excerpt from the opening sequence, the two women engage in a little light-hearted banter at the expense of the Australian entertainment industry and some of its players before scanning the crowd to highlight some well-known faces in the audience.
The writing for award-show banter is often slightly awkward and stiff, and this clip is no exception. But the two women handle it with a high degree of professionalism and humour and draw plenty of laughs and applause from the crowd.
The 2015 AACTAs (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards) were held in January 2015 at The Star Event Centre in Sydney.
At the time of writing, Mailman has been nominated for 14 AFI/AACTA Awards and has won 6, across 4 categories – Lead Actress in a Film (for Radiance, 1998 and The Sapphires, 2012), Supporting Actress in a Film (Bran Nue Dae, 2009), Guest or Supporting Actress in a TV Drama (Offspring, 2010 and Mystery Road, 2018) and Lead Actress in a TV Drama (Total Control, 2019).
Deborah Mailman had a supporting role in season 1 of the limited TV series Mystery Road starring Aaron Pedersen and Judy Davis, a spin-off from Ivan Sen's films Mystery Road (2013) and its sequel Goldstone (2016).
Mystery Road is a crime drama set in the outback about 2 young farm hands who mysteriously go missing. When one of the boys shows up, he becomes a suspect in the other’s disappearance.
Mailman plays Kerry, the mother of the accused boy, Marley (Aaron L McGrath). In this short excerpt from episode 4 we see her confronted by Detective Jay Swan (Pedersen).
Although the scene is only brief, it’s a great example of how much tension and emotion Mailman brings, even to a supporting character.
In Mystery Road, Mailman also worked with directors Rachel Perkins, Warwick Thornton and Wayne Blair, all of whom she has collaborated with on prior productions. She appeared opposite Aaron Pedersen in Jack Irish, also released in 2018.
In this clip from the film Paper Planes (Robert Connolly, 2015) we are introduced to Maureen, played by Deborah Mailman, who is a former junior Australian paper plane-making champion.
Maureen, a delightful and endearing character with a passion for paper planes, welcomes the latest crop of young competitors and demonstrates the skills that made her a winner.
Paper Planes is a comedy-adventure film about a young boy who dreams of taking part in the World Paper Plane Championship in Japan. The film was a hit in 2015, receiving an AACTA award for Best Original Screenplay and a host of other nominations – including Best Supporting Actress for Mailman.
The cast also includes Sam Worthington, Ed Oxenbould, Julian Dennison, Peter Rowsthorn, David Wenham and Terry Norris.
Little J & Big Cuz (2017–current) is an animated series about two young Aboriginal cousins – 5-year-old Little J (voiced by Miranda Tapsell) and his 9-year-old cousin, Big Cuz (voiced by Deborah Mailman).
The 2 kids live with their Nanna (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) and her dog (voiced by Aaron Fa'Aoso) and they go for all kinds of adventures with their school friends, learning about their community and Aboriginal culture along the way.
The series first aired on NITV and was aimed at children who were about to enter primary school.
In this excerpt from season 3, episode 13 ('River Adventure'), the school mascot – Aaron the footy doll – has fallen overboard during a boating adventure and Big Cuz films the story for a news report assignment.
This excerpt from season 1, episode 7 of Get Krack!n features Deborah Mailman playing a fictional Australian Prime Minister.
Get Krack!n (2017–19) was a satirical take on Australian morning television shows by the team behind The Katering Show. It starred Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, or 'the Kates' as they have become known.
Self-described as 'the late, late show of Australian morning shows', this clip offers a representative example of the show's tone, look and humour.
Get Krack!n's hosts are a contrast in styles, with McLennan manic and McCartney deadpan and laidback. Together, they come across as painfully awkward and their crew as seemingly incompetent (note the mistimed and misspelt 'BREAKIGN NEWS' banner).
Their brightly coloured studio is typical of a commercial network morning show and their use of equipment like exercise balls in place of a couch or chairs adds to the farcical nature of the program.
In this episode normal programming for the show's women’s health special is interrupted with breaking news of a large-scale disaster.
The Kates cut to a press briefing with Prime Minister Burney (Mailman) who makes a speech to reassure the nation that the government is doing everything in its power to control the situation.
The staging for the press briefing is convincing, with Mailman wearing a dark suit and standing in front of a podium with an Auslan interpreter by her side.
Note the questions from the press gallery as she leaves the podium, which are totally unrelated to the disaster and are instead focussed on the PM's personal life – an interesting take on the way the Australian media treats female politicians.
As Prime Minister Burney continues to speak, the screen becomes almost entirely covered with Get Krack!n watermarks, a joke about the extensive use of overlays on typical morning programs on commercial television.
While no one seems to know the specific details of the disaster, the Get Krack!n team are desperate to get the scoop before their show comes to an end.
The choice of Deborah Mailman to play prime minister – along with her references to asylum-seekers, refugees, minorities, Aboriginal people and the flag – is a pointed commentary on the state of Australia and Australian politics at the time.
Warning: This clip contains coarse language.
The Secret Life of Us (2001–2005) was a popular TV drama about a group of 20-somethings living in an apartment block in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda.
Deborah Mailman played one of the main characters in the show, Kelly Lewis, who shares an apartment with writer Evan Wylde, played by Samuel Johnson.
In this excerpt from season 3, episode 12 we see how Kelly copes after being the victim of a brutal assault in her apartment by a friend of Evan’s. The trauma of the assault, and her boyfriend’s insensitive way of dealing with it, forces her to reassess their relationship.
This clip also features Sibylla Budd as Gabrielle and Torquil Neilson as Jake. The episode was directed by Cate Shortland (Somersault, 2004; Black Widow, 2021).
The Secret Life of Us was a landmark series in the way that it dealt with serious subjects and for its honest depictions of life for young adults in an inner-city melting pot of messy relationships, sex and sexism, drugs, drinking and violence.
It helped to cement the careers of a number of rising stars like Joel Edgerton and Claudia Karvan and also attracted some famous names as recurring guest stars including Ben Mendelsohn, Susie Porter, Vince Colosimo and Rhys Muldoon.
Mailman starred in The Secret Life of Us for its entire 4-season run. It was not only a breakout role for her career, but a significant one in terms of Aboriginal representation in mainstream television drama, following in the footsteps of Justine Saunders.
Mailman won two Most Outstanding Actress Logie awards for her role as Kelly, in 2002 and 2004.
This audio clip is an excerpt from the Deadly Sounds radio program, hosted by Rhoda Roberts. In this clip Roberts interviews actor Deborah Mailman about her role as Kelly in The Secret Life of Us.
They discuss the auditioning process and playing the role of Kelly as a character that is not defined by her race in the show.
This interview is impactful for Mailman's candid responses to Roberts' direct but friendly questioning. Their familiarity is such that the exchange sounds more like a conversation between colleagues than a standard radio interview.
Mailman's answers speak to the added pressures that First Nations actors endure, and also put upon themselves, during the auditioning process and may be revelatory for non-Indigenous listeners.
Deadly Sounds was a weekly one-hour Indigenous radio program featuring interviews with special guests and music by Indigenous artists. Hosted by journalist, actor and author Rhoda Roberts, it ran for 21 years from 1993 to 2014.
Image: Publicity still from The Secret Life of Us. Courtesy: EndemolShine Australia. NFSA title: 589068
In this clip, Rove McManus interviews Deborah Mailman and Spencer McLaren, two of the stars of The Secret Life of Us, on Rove Live.
The interview covers a range of topics such as the impact the show has had on their lives, appearing at awards ceremonies, popularity locally and in the UK, and reactions to McLaren’s character, who comes out as gay.
We also see footage of Mailman as a presenter on ABC TV's long-running children’s program Play School, alongside actor Rhys Muldoon. Mailman appeared on Play School more than 20 times between 1998 and 2002.
While it’s only a short clip, the Play School footage shows how challenging the presenter role could be for an actor. Mailman and Muldoon are simultaneously singing, working with makeshift props, acting and telling a story, all without condescending to their young audience and while maintaining a high level of energy and enthusiasm!
Mailman worked on Play School just as her TV and film career was starting to take off, and her performance here helps give a sense of the range of her talents and appeal to different audiences.
Rove Live (2000–2006) was a popular late-night variety show which aired weeknights on Network Ten. The show was named after, and hosted by, comedian Rove McManus and its format was modelled on US late shows like Letterman, Late Night, The Tonight Show and others.
Rove Live featured live music, interviews and comedy segments and attracted both local and international celebrities.
This early scene in The Sapphires (Wayne Blair, 2012), introduces us to 3 of the main characters in the film – Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy), three talented Aboriginal sisters who live in a rural town and sing in a girl group.
The scene establishes Gail as the big sister who takes charge of things, Cynthia as the wild one and Julie as the major talent destined for great things. It also features Kylie Belling as their mother, Geraldine.
The Sapphires is based on the 2004 stage play of the same name by actor, writer and producer Tony Briggs, that tells the true story of 4 young Aboriginal women who travel to Vietnam during the war in the late 1960s to entertain the troops.
Briggs’ mother and aunt were both members of the original Sapphires and, after the stage show was a hit, he adapted the story into an award-winning feature film that debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.
Mailman also starred as Cynthia in the original stage production of The Sapphires at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney, 2005.
This scene from season 6, episode 5 of Offspring is a significant one for Deborah Mailman’s character, midwife Cherie Butterfield.
It sees Cherie’s lengthy on-again-off-again relationship with colleague and Hospital Director Martin (Lachy Hulme) reach a critical moment.
The scene is not only a big moment for Cherie but is a shift in the usual gender roles that are depicted in prime-time television comedies and drama series. However, it still remains in line with the unconventional, topsy-turvy nature of the series.
Offspring (2010–2017) was a hugely popular series centred around the chaotic life of Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie), her quirky family and friends, high-pressure career as an obstetrician and her messy love-life.
In this episode of Two Twisted Deborah Mailman plays a tough but empathetic police officer, Detective Elsie Jones, who is determined to get to the truth when a man and his illegal clone (played by Aden Young) are each accused of murdering the man’s wife.
Mailman stars alongside Bryan Brown’s hard-nosed ‘bad cop’, Detective Vincent Westler, who has a deep distrust of cloning and clones.
Two Twisted was a 14-episode TV anthology mystery series where every episode had an unexpected twist ending. The episodes aired in pairs, with each pair featuring something linking the 2 episodes together.
The series featured a long list of Australia’s best-known actors including Bill Hunter, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes, Susie Porter, Lisa McCune, Vince Colosimo, Garry McDonald, Asher Keddie, Dan Wyllie, Greta Scacchi, Roy Billing and many more.
Throughout her career, Deborah Mailman has had supporting roles in many Australian TV limited and mini-series including Mystery Road (2018), Tomorrow, When the War Began (2016), The Alice (2005) and Jack Irish (2018), in which she had a recurring role as horseracing official Cynthia.
In this short excerpt from season 2, episode 2, Cynthia's life is threatened when someone shoots through her window and into her ceiling while she’s home with her son.
In this brief scene, also featuring Aaron Pedersen and Roy Billing, Mailman manages to convey that Cynthia is a strong woman who won’t be intimidated, and also a protective mother with a sense of humour.
It's another example of the nuance and talent that Mailman brings to every character she embodies on the screen.
Rhoda Roberts interview Deborah Mailman on Deadly Sounds, a one-hour program produced by Vibe Australia and distributed nationally to over 200 stations every week through the Community Radio Network and National Indigenous Radio Service satellites.
In this clip, they discuss Mailman's role in the Australian feature film Rabbit-Proof Fence (Phillip Noyce, 2002), which tells the story of the Stolen Generations through the eyes of 3 Aboriginal girls who are forcibly taken from their families in 1931 to be trained as domestic servants as part of an official Australian government policy.
In the interview Mailman says she didn't hesitate to play a small part in the film because of the importance of the subject matter. Roberts says that while the role was small, it poignantly reveals the abuse from the station owner in the film.
Roberts is a member of the Bundjalung nation, Widjabul and Gidabul clans of Northern NSW and South East Queensland, and her interest in the subject matter of the film is easily sensed in the tone of her voice.
Roberts also undoubtedly knows Mailman personally so it feels more like we are eavesdropping on a casual conversation rather than a formal interview. This makes for a very effective interview format.
Unfortunately there are sound issues with Roberts in the broadcast studio and Mailman interviewed via telephone. An in-studio interview would have given the conversation a greater sense of immediacy and drawn us further into their discussion.
Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw
In this promotional documentary supporting the work of World Vision, Deborah Mailman travels to Tanzania with her co-star from The Secret Life of Us, Sibylla Budd.
Deborah sponsors a young girl named Yesinta, who lives in a community in Tanzania with her mother.
In this clip we see Deborah and Sibylla meeting Yesinta and her community and learning more about their daily lives.
Mae (Trisha Morton-Thomas) is wearing her mother’s wedding dress. Nona (Deborah Mailman) wants to bottle the ashes so they can take them to the island to scatter. Mae and Nona enter into a tug of war over the ashes, and the ashes of their mother spill all over Cressy (Rachael Maza).
Summary by Romaine Morton
Behind the scenes of the Rachel Perkins film Radiance (1998).
This is an excerpt from the electronic press kit for the film which shows the crew shooting a scene with Deborah Mailman and part of an interview with cinematographer Warwick Thornton.
This clip is a television advertisement from 1999 featuring Ray Martin and Deborah Mailman talking about the concept of Reconciliation in Australia with the tagline 'We can do it. We must do it.'
In 1999, Reconciliation Australia ran a series of ads featuring Indigenous and non-Indigenous celebrities, actors and high-profile Australians, including Deborah Mailman, Rachel Ward, Matthew Swadling, Ray Martin and others.
This advertisement has an obvious 1990s look and feel. The use of green screens, bright colours, casual typeface and the stock footage montage featuring Indigenous and white Australians working together suggests a simple, low-budget production.
The focus on the sign with a symbolic fork and a long, empty road ahead is an obvious message that it's time for all Australians to get on the same path and take a journey together.
This ad was broadcast at a time when the Reconciliation movement was gaining momentum. In May 2000, an estimated 250,000 people walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the largest show of public support for Reconciliation in Australia's history.
Willy (Rocky McKenzie), Uncle Tadpole (Ernie Dingo), Annie (Missy Higgins), Slippery (Tom Budge) and Roxanne (Deborah Mailman) arrive in Broome and head straight to the Roebuck Bay Hotel for a drink and some fun. Roxanne leads the travellers into the bar; as she enters the music starts and the people in the bar begin to sing and dance. Willy is heartbroken to find his sweetheart Rosie (Jessica Mauboy) singing with Lester (Dan Sultan).
Summary by Liz McNiven
This is a production still from the television docudrama Mabo (2012), directed by Rachel Perkins and starring Jimi Bani as Eddie Mabo and Deborah Mailman as Bonita Mabo.
The TV movie chronicles the life of Torres Strait Islander man Eddie Mabo who was the driving force behind the High Court overturning the legal fiction of terra nullius ('nobody's land') applying to Australia.
You can stream Mabo in full as part of the Buwindja collection on NFSA Player.