Top row (left to right): Philippos Ziakas (SA), Jean-Pierre Yerma (NSW), Simone Detourbet (WA), Ratidzo Mambo (VIC) and Esther Fwati (VIC).

Bottom row (left to right): Yerina Ha (NSW), Adam Bowes (NSW), Andrea Solonge (VIC), Belinda Jombwe (NSW) and Winnie Mzembe (QLD).

The performers, writers and directors who will participate in Australia’s first Diversity Showcase have been selected by industry judging panels from more than 500 applicants.

The Diversity Showcase is a chance for emerging talent to be uncovered and exposed to those who make decisions about what ends up on our screens.

It will take place on July 26 at the Actors’ Centre Australia in Leichardt, preceded by rehearsals, panels and professional development workshops from July 21-25 at the International Screen Academy in Waterloo.

The six writers selected by the Australian Writers’ Guild include writers who are female, queer, from CALD backgrounds, Aboriginal, or living with disabilities.

The members of the selection panel for performers included casting directors Anousha Zarkesh and Amanda Mitchell, director Peter Andrikidis, Jungle Entertainment’s Chloe Rickard and actor Shareena Clanton.

Zarkesh said she was overwhelmed by the quality of applicants, observing: “The quality of new faces testing was very exciting. It was great to get so many people responding to the call out. There was such a wealth of talent that came forward.”

Australian Directors’ Guild CEO Kingston Anderson agreed: “We had an overwhelming response to our call out for this program from a very talented and diverse range of applicants and we found it extremely difficult to narrow our selection to only five. There is obviously a huge need for a diversity program of this kind and we look forward to working with the directors, and other successful applicants, in bringing diversity to our screens.”

AWG general manager Emma Rafferty said: “We were impressed and excited by the number and quality of scripts we received from more than 250 up-and-coming screenwriters and playwrights for this fantastic opportunity. It’s incredibly important for industry organisations such as Equity and the ADG and the AWG to come together to run initiatives to support diverse voices finding their way into our industry and onto our screens.”

Performer participants: Adam Bowes (NSW), Andrea Solonge (VIC), Belinda Jombwe (NSW), Esther Fwati (VIC), Philippos Ziakas (SA), Ratidzo Mambo (VIC), Simone Detourbet (WA), Winnie Mzembe (QLD), Yerin Ha (NSW) and Jean-Pierre Yerma(NSW).

Writer participants: Tim Spencer (NSW), Aven Yap (QLD), A. N. Gurjar (NSW), Caden Pearson (QLD), Brendan Dousi (QLD) and Sarinah Masukor (NSW).

Director participants: Bee Cruse (NSW), Amie Batalibasi (VIC), Bina Bhattacharya (NSW), Joe Chan (NSW) and Vonne Patiag (NSW).

Screen Australia’s report into diversity in Australian TV drama found that close to 60 per cent of programs had only Anglo-Celtic main characters. LGBTQI characters and those with a disability were also vastly underrepresented.

Bali Padda, chair of the Equity Diversity Committee, said: “Each of the selection panels had a very challenging job choosing these participants from such a large pool of amazing applicants. It is exciting to find the best calibre of screen talent and practitioners from diverse backgrounds, pull them out of the margins and showcase their skills in front of the industry.

“We hope this program is a game-changer that shakes up the industry and feeds historically underrepresented practitioners and talent into the pipeline for a truly representative screen industry for Australia.”


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