Take 5: Deborah Mailman


One of the finest Australian actors of her generation, Deborah Mailman is known for her many TV and film credits including Secret Life of Us, Offspring, Rabbit Proof Fence and The Sapphires. Earlier this year, Mailman was in Canberra shooting Total Control, an ABC political drama. The affable star took 5 with Canberra Daily prior to the show’s debut on 13 October 8.30pm; abc.net.au/tv

1.What was the experience of filming in Canberra like for you?

It was important we had access to Old and New Parliament House because they’re so intrinsic to the storyline. Walking into Parliament House, I just felt a lot of respect for the place and the people who work there. I remember sitting in the chamber at Old Parliament House the first time I walked on the set, and getting the sense of history in the place is magnificent.

2. Have you spent much time in Canberra over the years?

I have, it’s a place that I take my two boys to when we feel like getting away. It’s a gorgeous city and we love it. My husband Matt did some growing up there and went to Daramalan. Matty’s got more of a connection, but I still think it’s a gorgeous city. Last time we stayed at the zoo there at Jamala and took the boys to the War Memorial.

3. What does it mean to you to be a part of many films and television series, like Total Control, that tell Indigenous stories?

It means everything to me because I’m a proud Indigenous woman. Aligning myself with Blackfella Films, they’re the stories I want to tell because they matter to me, my family, and hopefully the broader community as well. It’s important we have ourselves and our stories reflected on the screen so the younger kids can see themselves, their stories and their culture.

4. Have you noticed changes to Indigenous representation in politics over the course of your life?

We’ve seen many politicians that have come through over many decades, and while there’s still us mob around the table, there’s still so much to do. Talk of constitutional recognition is such an oppressing issue that a lot of people want to see action around. A lot of those issues are still very important to Indigenous people, but it doesn’t feel like a lot has moved forward. I’d certainly like to see some sense of leadership around it.

5. What was it like getting to work on Total Control with one of your contemporaries in Rachel Griffiths?

I love Rach, she’s an incredible actor and was amazing as an executive producer on this. She cares so much about the show and it’s been on her mind for some time. She’s very much the instigator of this story and really wanted to have a black female politician driving this series. Then working alongside her – she’s amazing; I can’t praise her enough.

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