It all started in 1997 when African American hip hop dancer and teacher Sam Beatty came to Australia for a few days of work. After meeting and falling in love with Torres Strait Islander woman Taryn, also a performer, a meeting of cultures transpired. Now with three children of their own, the family – including Taryn’s mum, Aunty Cindy Drummond and Taryn’s eldest boy, Ryka (a well-known performer and hip hop dancer in his own right) – traverse the country and the globe sharing their culture.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Below, youngest son, Djakapurra, with his gorgeous trademark curls and show-stealing presence, along with equally charismatic two daughters Majeda Tapalinga and Xing-Yee, can be seen on the small screen and stage. So what’s a week like in the life of the Beatty Clan?
Monday mornings start at sunrise for Taryn, who likes to sneak in a quick workout each day before the whirlwind of activities begin.
The whole family then head to the NITV studios to perform as part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dance theatre group, Descendance, as well as the ‘Beatty Clan Crew’ at the opening of the World Indigenous Broadcasters Network conference. With delegates from First Nations around the world including Hawaii, Sweden and Canada, the Beatty family showcases several songs and dances.
Once things wrap at NITV, Taryn runs off for a rehearsal for cultural workshops she runs with Catholic Education, while Xing-Yee (Honey) and Majeda head off to Hornsby do some voice-over recordings for the TV show they are currently working on. The girls work as a duo, using their great timing and comedic interaction to light up the screen.
Sharing dinner together as a family is impossible, says Taryn with a laugh.
“Both Sam and I are on a health programme, so we can’t let too much time go before meals; we eat early. With the girls and their filming schedule, they may just eat while they are out on the road, or have something when they get back. Also, the table is full of things too, so we don’t really break bread together there!”
They do, however like to spend at least one night a week sitting down together and catching up on US TV shows.
Tuesday sees Honey and Majeda preparing for a special interview with Tori Kelly, the popular American singer/songwriter and actress who has lent her voice talent to an animated character in the upcoming movie-musical, SING. The girls excitedly watch the film to formulate their questions for their meeting with the star.
Come Wednesday, Djakapurra has an important meeting with Opera Australia, one of a series of negotiations for him to be a part of the musical Porgy & Bess, his first foray in to the medium of a stage opera, (previously, he's been involved in short films). They originally wanted him to cut his hair for the role, but as they are his trademark, this suggestion was quickly shut down
As far as cool dads go, Sam is up there with the best – he’s one of the earliest hip hop dancers from New York, having grown up in the Bronx and been a part of the original scene there.
He’s also a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner, practicing at the beach most mornings (including this lovely Thursday sunrise) is a favourite activity and this will often involve a bit of a get down afterwards.
On Friday, Ryka performs at Mt Annan Public School. Having performed with his mum, Taryn, from a young age and also gracing the screen as a dancer on a popular Indigenous hip hop show, Ryka is a gifted performer across many mediums, including the yidaki.
The weekend is for chill-time and having a laugh together, which is what the Beatty Clan do best.
A shout-out to the Beatty Family for letting us have a look in to their busy lives! Follow them here.
First Contact (season 2) airs on 29 November, 30 November and 1 December 2016 at 8:30pm on SBS. Across 28 Days, six well-known Aussies take an epic journey into Aboriginal Australia. Watch the trailer here, and catch-up on episodes after the program airs via SBS On Demand here.