Q&A Noni Ha­zle­hurst says women need to help each other when those in power don’t.

ACTOR & PRE­SEN­TER

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by NAOMI CHRISOULAKIS Noni fea­tures on Who Do You Think You Are?, 7.30pm April 17, on SBS.

It’s In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day this week. What do you say to those peo­ple who call for an In­ter­na­tional Men’s Day? Oh, get over your­selves. I just can’t be­lieve that there’s any kind of back­lash against equal­ity. What’s the prob­lem? It’s bizarre that some men are so fright­ened of women not be­ing sub­servient and sub­mis­sive that the whole re­ac­tion to #Me­too is, “Men are go­ing to be too scared to talk to women.” No – just don’t be an ar­se­hole. Just be­have like a hu­man be­ing with re­spect. You’ve said you were raised to be­lieve wear­ing a nice dress and be­ing nice to peo­ple was the way to get ahead, but that turned out not to be true. What was true? What turned out to be true is what I learnt on Play School, which is to be your­self. One of the few joys of get­ting older is you care less about what peo­ple think of you be­cause you’re not in that com­pet­ing arena of be­ing young and try­ing to be at­trac­tive. You’ve worked out who you are to some ex­tent, and my ad­vice is: act­ing is easy, be­ing is hard. We need to be aware that we all wear masks and we’re en­cour­aged to wear masks. That’s why I ap­pre­ci­ate very young chil­dren – they don’t have them. They can teach us how to be au­then­tic. You were the sec­ond woman in­ducted into the Lo­gies Hall Of Fame in 2016, and you called out sex­ism in your speech. Then 2017 brought #Me­too. Why do you think we are hav­ing this mo­ment for gen­der equal­ity? It’s never been more ob­vi­ous that we can’t trust those in power to look af­ter us, so we have to look af­ter each other. I think the an­swer is ac­tion: do­ing what­ever you can in your own en­vi­ron­ment and hav­ing a rip­ple ef­fect, par­tic­u­larly with chil­dren, point­ing out to them what is eth­i­cal and moral and what isn’t. You come from generations of vaudevil­lians, which gets ex­plored in an up­com­ing episode of Who Do You Think You Are? – did you dis­cover any­thing un­usual about your an­ces­tors? It was mind-bog­gling to find out about my great-grand­par­ents, and I also learnt about my own par­ents, some things that hap­pened to them that I wasn’t aware of. Their legacy was that you have to be able to do ev­ery­thing. They made sure that I could dance, sing, do ac­cents, com­edy, play the piano… they re­ally made sure I could an­swer any call, ba­si­cally. I think that ver­sa­til­ity is the key to longevity – as well as turn­ing up on time and know­ing your lines. You’ve just fin­ished a two-year tour of your one-woman play Mother. Is there any­thing spe­cial you take on the road to make any place feel like home? I take pic­tures of my sons, Char­lie and Wil­liam. And I think that I might have died of star­va­tion in a pre­vi­ous life be­cause I never feel

“Play School didn’t pre­pare me for hav­ing chil­dren; it just gave me craft tech­niques” “It’s never been more ob­vi­ous that we can’t trust those in power to look af­ter us, so we have to look af­ter each other”

quite set­tled un­til I’ve done a bit of a shop: proper tea, coffee, ve­g­ies. And my Bialetti coffee maker. Did Play School help pre­pare you for par­ent­hood? What I re­alised hav­ing my own chil­dren is that when I said, “Would you like to sing with me?” I al­ways as­sumed the an­swer would be yes. And then I re­alised they were just as likely to go, “Nup.” It didn’t re­ally pre­pare me for hav­ing chil­dren at all; it just gave me some craft tech­niques. How does it feel to be con­sid­ered a spiritual mother to a gen­er­a­tion? It’s the thing I’m proud­est of. It taught me so much about com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the pre­cious­ness of young chil­dren; that no child is born a bigot, and they need pro­tec­tion from the world. Ev­ery day of my life some­one tells me they watched me on Play School. It’s fab­u­lous. Your bril­liant read­ing of the hu­mor­ous “chil­dren’s book” Go The F*ck To Sleep went vi­ral. Why do you think that res­onated with so many peo­ple? When I read the book, I laughed like a drain be­cause my first son didn’t sleep through the night un­til he was two. Women par­tic­u­larly don’t talk about this be­cause we want to ap­pear to be cop­ing. There’s a lot of com­pe­ti­tion around par­ent­ing, and I felt it was just such a re­lief that some­one had given voice to all the frus­tra­tion and grief that you can’t set­tle your own child in such a funny way. For me, it was a cheeky way of do­ing some­thing that I felt had a higher pur­pose. You’ve been mar­ried twice, you’ve co­hab­ited, you’ve en­joyed the sin­gle state. What do you think is best? I en­joy be­ing alone. I love my work, I love my kids and I very much en­joy my pri­vacy and peace. I have a tribe-sized group of fab­u­lous friends. We all look af­ter and trust each other – and I think that’s enough for me. Square, round or arch win­dow? I don’t have a pref­er­ence! But my favourite toy is Lit­tle Ted, the un­der­dog.

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