Deborah Mailman talks Logies highs, red carpet woes and Redfern Now triumphs with DEBBIE SCHIPP
THERE were few dry eyes at the 2013 Logies earlier this year when Deborah Mailman, poised in her moment of triumph, promptly dissolved into tears, typically spreading the love.
Accepting her silver Logie for Most Outstanding Actress for her portrayal of indigenous activist Bonita Mabo in the 2012 telemovie of the same name, Mailman stood on stage alongside the woman she had portrayed.
“It was a gift for me to meet this woman,” a teary Mailman said, as the crowd rose as one in a standing ovation.
Mailman says it’s her “best memory this year”.
“It was just all perfect, and such a relief in some respects,” she says.
“I always get a bit anxious leading up to those events … like, ‘Am I going to be on the worst-dressed list this year?’. It actually didn’t enter my head I’d win.”
It was the culmination of a solid two years work for Mailman – which saw her film, in addition to Mabo, Aussie big screen success story The Sapphires, maintain her ever-popular role of Cherie in Offspring and star in the first season of acclaimed drama Redfern Now.
Meet Mailman and you quickly realise that accolades don’t drive her. A passion for her family and work do. She has an irrepressible spark, a mischievous sense of humour and an infectious laugh that often veers into delightful cackle.
Since Logies night, Mailman has been slowing down to smell the roses.
“It’s been quiet and I’m loving it,” Mailman says from her home in Wollongong.
“I had a crazy couple of years work-wise, and I’ve been very conscious to not kill myself with being too busy. I’ve reintroduced myself to my hubby and kids. They know me again on first-name basis, and they’re still happy to have me around.
“Right now, I’m in the place where I’m talking about the work that happened a little while back and I’m very proud of the work that I’ve been involved in. It’s not so much sitting back and collecting accolades, it’s more counting the grey hairs.”
Mailman hasn’t been totally idle in the acting stakes.
She has found time to shoot a role in the second series of Redfern Now, which also came up trumps at the Logies when it was awarded Most Outstanding Drama.
The show returns for its second series this week, with Mailman reprising her role of Lorraine in the hard-hitting first episode.
“We are all so glad to see it back,” Mailman says.
“It was obvious as soon as we got the script for the episode I’m involved in – Where The Heart Is – that the writers, producers and directors are continuing with that great ballsy and gutsy writing that was there in the first season. It’s that idea that the first series started off with a random occurrence, so an action sets off a chain reaction of circumstance and repercussions so we begin with a tragic event.”
Redfern Now launched last year as the first drama series written, directed and produced by indigenous Australians. The ultimate triumph is that it transcends being pigeon-holed as “good indigenous drama”.
“It’s not good indigenous drama. It’s just bloody good drama,” Mailman says.
Where The Heart Is stays true to that, with Mailman saying her Lorraine is but a sideshow to performances from leads Noni Hazelhurst and Kirk Page.
“You see them stifled by grief and it’s about how they get through that and find some sense of forgiveness and heart when they are all emotionally suffocated,” she says. “And in the middle of all this is a child custody battle which is an ugly battle of wills between their characters.
“Noni Hazelhurst is just a ball-tearer … she just rips it through the roof in this episode,” Mailman says. “It’s great to be on the sidelines watching how she works.”
Mailman counts herself as lucky to be reprising her character Lorraine “whose job here is to step in and support one of her best friends – and because of that she doesn’t hold back on pointing out a few home truths”.
“She can be a force to be reckoned with,” Mailman concedes of Lorraine’s “honest, no bulls**t style”.
Does she perhaps have that in common with Mailman?
The hearty chuckle hits full blast. “I don’t bulls**t,” Mailman says. “But I can smell it a mile off.”
THURSDAY, 8.30PM, ABC1
Back for more: Deborah Mailman reprises her role as Lorraine in the first episode of the second series of