My interest is in how fiction shapes our knowledge of the past and how we see ourselves.
WHAT I DO
When I am not writing or reading, I spend a lot of time meeting people who work in film and theatre and academia and having interesting conversations. In fact, the reason for this blog and for my current writing projects is one of those conversations.
It was over a glass of wine at a reception at the V&A Museum with someone who had spent the day at the National Archives that I first learned that Indigenous Australians visited England in the 1830s and that they also lived here. There were only fragments in the archives, their stories were incomplete. This amazing revelation completely changed what I thought I knew of Australian history and the colonial era: I knew nothing.
I came to England in the 1990s from Sydney, Australia. These Indigenous Australians were the first Australians to make that planetary journey. The fragments of their stories that are on the historical record leaped out of the archives and into my imagination.
What if a screenwriter could turn this piece of forgotten history into a story, into a movie? Who else lived in Britain in the Empire era? We love a costume drama, but why are they always so White?
These are the hidden histories of ethnicity in the British Empire. This is what fascinates me. I want to write stories about these travellers, and whose paths they may have crossed in their journeys in the 1830s and 1840s.
And what other stories are out there, waiting to be uncovered?
WHY I DO IT
In my writing and research I explore what screenwriters can do to address the almost complete lack of protagonists of colour in period drama.
Not urban, contemporary drama. I am talking specifically, singularly, exclusively and obsessively, about period drama. History on screen. Fiction as history.
How can screenwriters create more leading roles for actors of colour in this genre of Period Drama?
Non-white actors, Black actors, Indigenous Australian actors, Asian actors, Indian actors… lets tell their stories.
Let’s just get to work and write historical drama with protagonists of colour. The industry needs writers who can do this. And my experience has been that when you insist on this demographic on stage/screen, then that’s what you get in the writer’s room too.
My research looks at what is stopping us and how to overcome it, by exploring ideas from sociology, screenwriting manuals, policy and funding interventions and history.
No more hashtags! A hashtag is not doing. Diversity is everyone’s responsibility!