Review Blog

May 06 2020

Top End girl by Miranda Tapsell

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Hachette Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9780733642432.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. If you saw the delightful rom-com movie Top End wedding you will enjoy this book. If you missed it at the cinema, check it out on iTunes. It is a joyous upbeat story of what happens when an Aboriginal girl takes her English fiance to meet the family before getting married in her home country, the glorious setting of the Northern Territory and the Tiwi Islands. Top End girl is Miranda Tapsell's memoir about her life leading up to the making of the film which she co-wrote and starred in.
Tapsell is a Larrakia and Tiwi girl; she grew up in Kakadu. A natural performer, she was inspired by a school workshop with Aaron Pedersen to pursue an acting career, and won a place at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. It wasn't an easy time, in fact 'a baptism of fire', overcoming insecurities and finding her voice. But she made it, leading to a string of acclaimed dramatic performances, including winning two Logie Awards. In her acceptance speech she urged for more Aboriginal people on our screens in ways that transcend race. It was this vision that led to the film project Top End wedding, a fun and uplifting film highlighting the warmth of Aboriginal families and the beauty of their country in the Top End.
The book is written in a conversational style - you can hear her voice and her laugh. It is easy to read, so any fan of this actor will enjoy her story. However there is one chapter that stands out as a serious statement, 'Making things change', where she writes about the racism and sexism directed towards Aboriginal people and Aboriginal women in particular, and argues for greater Aboriginal representation in the film industry, and a wider recognition and celebration of Aboriginal culture generally. The issues raised in this chapter would make good classroom discussion topics.
Hopefully her film and book will be an inspiration to young black actors and filmmakers, and a great promotion of Aboriginal people and country, both in Australia and internationally.
Themes: Aboriginal actors, Aboriginal films, Romantic comedy, Self empowerment, Self belief.
Helen Eddy

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