On my mind
This year, Indigenous actress Madeleine Madden, 21, has been nailing it on Netflix and in Hollywood – but it hasn’t been easy
The first time someone was very racist to me was in primary school. I was in Year 5 and the other kid was in Year 2. In that moment, I knew it was racism, but what really horrified me was that a sixyearold was saying it.
I was born into a very privileged family, so for me it was just a bit of schoolyard bullying, but some kids are born into much tougher circumstances. They’re what give me the fire in my belly.
If I can lead the way to make the industry a safer place for younger kids to come through then that’s what I want to do.
And to be honest, the struggle is real. I am really proud of what I’ve done in the industry but I’m definitely standing on the shoulders of generations of Indigenous actors that have really been through the ringer.
And we still have a long way to go. I remember when I was filming Picnic at Hanging Rock, the other girls in the cast would sit around and talk about the auditions they were getting. They’d say, ‘Maddie, are you being considered for this role?’ and I never was.
It’s very hard as a woman of colour to even get your foot in the door. You’re not just battling sexism in the industry, it’s racism as well. And you get scripts and characters that are not very developed. For representation it’s so important to not just fill a stereotype, you have to spread a message.
My role in the Netflix series Tidelands was massive for me because Netflix has so much power. There is just more scope for diversity, whether it’s sexuality or race.
Being cast in Paramount’s Dora the Explorer liveaction remake was also huge, because it’s a role that a woman of any colour could have played.
My ultimate dream is probably to appear in the Star Wars franchise! I’ve always loved it and there is so much diversity in the new films. To be in a big movie like that would just break down a lot of barriers.
I definitely think if you’re an Indigenous person in this country you’re born political. You have to form an opinion from a young age because you’re faced with injustice and discrimination very early on.
I draw a lot of strength from my family – my grandfather was Indigenous activist Charles Perkins and my dad, when he was alive, was very involved in the community – I owe so much to them.
In turn, that really drives me – it’s not just my own individual ambition, I do it for others too.
I try to be a face on screen so other kids can go, ‘OK, I can actually do this, I’m not going to let someone’s warped ideology stop my dream from happening.’
‘It’s not just my own individual ambition, I do it for others too’
MADELEINE WANTS TO PAVE THE WAY FOR INDIGENOUS KIDS