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By Lola Pinder


Nakkiah Lui is fast becoming a household name in Australian film and television as a writer and actor. Lui is a Gamilaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman who grew up in Mount Druitt. She writes about her own personal histories in her work and explores tensions of urban Aboriginal communities, and the persistent effects of institutional racism.

Lui co-wrote and starred in Black Comedy, ABC’s recent Aboriginal sketch comedy series, which employs humour as an incredibly powerful tool for political and social engagement and critique. The screening of this show on ABC is an important milestone in the representation of Indigenous Australians on national television.

In her latest play, Kill the Messenger which she wrote and stars in as herself, Lui tears down the traditions of theatre, interrogating the fourth wall and questioning the audience on black and white relations in Australia.

Lui’s work adds to a shift in how Australian Indigenous stories are told and are perceived. Kill the Messenger experiments with audience-actor relations and so alters stereotypical themes of Aboriginal suffering and victimhood. Lui openly questions the audience’s perceptions and actions--She says, tongue-in-cheek, in one of her monologue asides, ‘this is ‘my tale of black oppression’.  

In one of the many articles about Lui’s talent, TimeOut Sydney Arts describes her as Mt Druitt’s answer to Lena Dunham. This kind of comparison seems indicative of Australian arts more generally, as artists are positioned in relation to, and following from America as a cultural Centre. Of course, both Dunham and Lui are very talented, and may share certain characteristics, but as young Australian artists innocative and creative work in 2015, can they not be validated in their own right? Nakkiah Lui is certainly one to watch while she hones her unique voice.

2015 has been busy for Lui, she has already debuted the musical satire Blak Caberet in Sydney, for the Sydney Festival, and opened her second play Kill the Messenger at the Belvoir theatre to critical acclaim. Kill the Messenger finishes this weekend at the Belvoir. Lui was the inaugural recipient of The Dreaming Award from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council in 2012. The same year, Nakkiah also received the first Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright award. In 2014, Nakkiah was awarded the Malcolm Robertson New Playwright Prize. Lui is a creative in the rise in Australia.

This post is part of the Art Month Event Creative Paddington taking place on March 7th in conjunction with Metro Screen and UNSW Art & Design.