SERGEANT BLOS­SOMS AS ROSE

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

CON­NECT­ING with Rose Han­cock, the sparkling so­cialite and one of Australia’s orig­i­nal mil­lion­aire housewives, came as a pro­found shock to ac­tor Peta Sergeant.

The chance to play the “fl am­boy­ant, emo­tional and mer­cu­rial per­son” was a dream job, guar­an­tee­ing Sergeant would up- end the life she’d just es­tab­lished in Los An­ge­les with hus­band Rohan Ni­col just six weeks be­fore win­ning the part.

But just a few weeks into fi lm­ing, Sergeant ad­mit­ted she was ques­tion­ing ev­ery­thing she thought she knew about Rose.

“By the time we were a third to half­way through, I felt vig­i­lant about pro­tect­ing her,” she said. “I felt she’d been grossly mis­rep­re­sented in the me­dia.”

Australia’s at­ti­tude to­wards Asians at that time in par­tic­u­lar, struck a chord with Malaysian- born Sergeant

“Not to diss Aussies too much, but we do have a xeno­pho­bic at­ti­tude to out­siders,” she said.

“Be­fore ( Rose) had opened her mouth, I think she was al­ready be­ing cast as the vil­lain. She was the out­sider, she looked diff er­ent, she sounded diff er­ent, she was not apolo­getic and that’s not a good thing in Australia.

“You’ve got to learn to sub­vert your­self, have a laugh at your­self … you might call it hum­ble, but it’s more about putting your­self down.”

The role was also the cat­a­lyst for a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Sergeant and her mother, who con­fessed she had en­dured sim­i­lar stigma when she fi rst mar­ried and moved to Australia with Sergeant’s fa­ther.

“I felt re­ally blessed that on some level I un­der­stood Rose’s cross to bear,” Sergeant said.

“It was such a joy for me be­cause I got to have con­ver­sa­tions with my mum that I never had be­fore about when she fi rst got to Australia and what it was like, what peo­ple were like to her.”

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