Participants selected for Australia's first Diversity Showcase

11 July, 2018

The Diversity Showcase is a chance for emerging talent to be uncovered and exposed to those who make decisions about what ends up on our screens. More than 500 applications were received.

The members of the selection panel for performers included Anousha Zarkesh (Casting Director), Amanda Mitchell (Casting Director), Peter Andrikidis (Director), Chloe Rickard (Producer, Jungle Entertainment), and Shareena Clanton (Actor). Anousha Zarkesh says she was overwhelmed by the quality of applicants. 'The quality of new faces testing was very exciting. It was great to get so many people responding to the call out. There was such a wealth of talent that came forward.'

Kingston Anderson, CEO of the Australian Directors' Guild (ADG), agrees: 'We had an overwhelming response to our call out for this program from a very talented and diverse range of applicants, and we found it extremely difficult to narrow our selection to only five. There is obviously a huge need for a diversity program of this kind and we look forward to working with the directors, and other successful applicants, in bringing diversity to our screens.'

The Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) has selected six writers to participate in the Showcase, with the judges also highly commending another two. 'We were impressed and excited by the number and quality of scripts we received from more than 250 up-and-coming screenwriters and playwrights for this fantastic opportunity,' said AWG’s General Manager, Emma Rafferty. 'It’s incredibly important for industry organisations such as Equity and the ADG and the AWG to come together to run initiatives to support diverse voices finding their way into our industry and onto our screens.' AWG’s judging panel added: 'There was a big range of writing abilities, from very experienced to emerging writers finding their way. The selected scripts include writers who are female, queer, from CALD backgrounds, Aboriginal, or living with disabilities.'

Performer participants: Adam Bowes (NSW), Andrea Solonge (VIC), Belinda Jombwe (NSW), Esther Fwati (VIC), Philippos Ziakas (SA), Ratidzo Mambo (VIC), Simone Detourbet (WA), Winnie Mzembe (QLD), Yerin Ha (NSW) and Jean-Pierre Yerma(NSW). View bios and headshots here.

Writer participants: Tim Spencer (NSW), Aven Yap (QLD), A. N. Gurjar (NSW), Caden Pearson (QLD), Brendan Dousi (QLD) and Sarinah Masukor (NSW).

Director participants: Bee Cruse (NSW), Amie Batalibasi (VIC), Bina Bhattacharya (NSW), Joe Chan (NSW) and Vonne Patiag (NSW).

Screen Australia’s ground-breaking report into diversity in Australian Television drama found that close to 60 per cent of programs had only Anglo-Celtic main characters. LGBTQI characters and those with a disability were also vastly underrepresented.

Sally Caplan, Head of Production at Screen Australia says: “It’s fantastic to see a new group of emerging screen practitioners coming through the ranks as part of this initiative, each bringing with them a unique life experience to draw from. This is a huge opportunity for the industry and I look forward to seeing the longer-term results as these applicants diversify the breadth of stories being told on Australian screens.”

Bali Padda, Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee, says: “"Each of the selection panels had a very challenging job choosing these participants from such a large pool of amazing applicants. It is exciting to find the best calibre of screen talent and practitioners from diverse backgrounds, pull them out of the margins and showcase their skills in front of the industry. We hope this program is a game-changer that shakes up the industry and feeds historically underrepresented practitioners and talent into the pipeline for a truly representative screen industry for Australia."

The Diversity Showcase will take place on July 26, 2018, at the Actors’ Centre Australia in Leichhardt, Sydney. Rehearsals, panels, and professional development workshops to take place from July 21-25 at the International Screen Academy in Waterloo, Sydney.

The Equity Foundation and the Equity Diversity Committee thank major supporter Screen Australia, and the Australian Writers' Guild, Australian Directors' Guild, Actors Centre Australia, International Screen Academy, Showcast, and Casting Guild of Australia for their contribution to the Diversity Showcase.

For further information and to organise interviews with the participants please contact Mike Dobbie / 0401 730 195.

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