"Put more beautiful people of colour on TV and connect viewers in ways that transcend race and unite us," she said during her impassioned acceptance speech for “Most Popular New Talent” at Australian television’s night of nights.
The media responded by asking the industry to take action. “Congratulations Miranda Tapsell... lovely acceptance speech. Hopefully the 'Industry' is listening,” tweeted Indigenous Community Television.
2014 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals that the population of Indigenous Australians has been growing since 2006 and will continue until at least 2021. 2011 ABS data shows that one in four Australians is born overseas.
Ms Tapsell said that Australian television has begun embracing cultural diversity. Channel Ten’s internationally known and traditionally Caucasian-cast soap opera Neighbours now features Indigenous actor Meyne Wyatt playing Nate Kinski, and shows such as ABC’s Underbelly showcase the country’s recent migrant history with Firass Dirani's playing Lebanese nightclub owner John Ibrahim.
But the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) graduate thinks Australia can do better. “It’s come along way and I’ve been fortunate enough as an actor to be involved in [film] The Sapphires and [new television series] Love Child but we’ve still got a long way to go,” she told NITV. “I really hope that I can be a part of that change, in that cultural shift.”
Last year social commentator Jane Caro told NITV that the television industry must be held more accountable. “We underestimate how many stupid people are in positions of power making stupid decisions," Ms Caro said.
“Actually the number of good practitioners, creative people, who think hard about what they do rather than follow what everyone else is doing are doing is rare."
Ms Tapsell, who grew up in the Northern Territory, first captured Australia’s attention for her portrayal of Cynthia in the 2012 film The Sapphires about Indigenous Australian soul singers entertaining troops during the Vietnam War.
She went on to star as Teneka in the first series of ABC’s Redfern Now that explores the experiences and issues confronted by people living in Sydney’s inner city suburb Redfern, which has a strong Indigenous population.
Now she is playing Martha in the new drama series Love Child about the forced adoption of babies from unmarried mothers between the 1950s and 1980s, which former Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a national apology for on behalf of the Australian Government in 2013.
With Tara Callinan