She was awarded two Logies for her role as Martha in Nine’s Love Child.
“Put more beautiful people of colour on TV and connect viewers in ways which transcend race and unite us,” she said to cheers.
So here we are, in 2015, still talking about the lack of Indigenous faces on Australian media.
But there is one woman who has been paving the way for Indigenous actors, musicians and artists alike.
And her presence in the Australian media has just hit two decades.
Christine Anu released her breakthrough album Stylin’ Up in 1995, which went on to win the ARIA for Best Indigenous Release. A single from the album, “My Island Home” won Song of the Year at the 1995 APRA awards. Her success was a powerful statement for Indigenous artists performing in a time of a predominantly white, male dominated industry.
"I'm Indigenous but I'm a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, and I can't get lost in who that is"
At seven years old, she was a Torres Strait Islander girl who pretended “that there were cameras in the trees and the flowers in the garden”. She went on to become one of Australia’s most famous artists, performing at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games.
“It doesn’t matter how far and wide my career has taken me over the last twenty years, I’ll always be that person that comes from a very special place that’s unique,” Anu said on NITV’s Awaken program, which will be broadcast on Wednesday May 6 at 9.30pm on NITV.
Born in Cairns, Queensland, Christine Anu quickly became one of Australia’s most successful indigenous performers. Her mother hailed from Saibai Island, just off the south coast of Papua New Guinea and her father from Mabuiag Island, closer to the centre of the Torres Strait. She spent parts of her childhood on the Islands, where she began to engage with the traditional music and island lifestyle.
Having dreamed of being a singer since early childhood, Anu started on a different path, graduating from the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) with a diploma of dance. She was eventually given the opportunity to perform as a backup singer with Neil Murray and the Rainmakers. Eventually, she fronted the band and covered their song “My Island Home”.
Conscious of being lumped within a broader sense of Indigenous identity, she sought to draw on her past and unique bloodline as a proud Saibai Islander throughout her musical career.
“I’m Indigenous but I’m a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, and I can’t get lost in who that is.” Anu said.
“You very much take it with you. You’re always flying the flag. It’s always at the back of your mind. You’re never too far from the values that you’ve been raised with.”