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Pretty For An Aboriginal

Author: BuzzFeed Australia

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Nakkiah and Miranda have conversations Australia is uncomfortable having—about sex, relationships, dating, power, and, most difficult of all, race.
12 Episodes
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If you thought we’d disappeared, think again! Nakkiah and Miranda have a treat for you. Recently, at the Melbourne Writers Festival, they sat down with journalist, memoirist and comic book writer Ta-Nehisi Coates to talk about race in general, and specifically whether democracy is failing people of colour in the US and in Australia, and why hope is irrelevant in the face of political struggle.    But that’s not all! They also invited Melbourne-based artists Birdz and Alice Skye to perform in front of the live audience. Enjoy this special live episode of BuzzFeed’s Pretty For An Aboriginal. (And please forgive us for the occasional audio echo and mic feedback. It was live in a large venue!)Credits: Hosted by: Nakkiah Lui @nakkiahlui and Miranda Tapsell @missmirandatapProduced and edited by Nicola Harvey @nicolaharveyPerformances by Birdz (and band) and Alice Skye.Opening Track (performed live at the Thornbury Theatre on August 29 for the Melbourne Writers Festival): Birdz, “This Side (ft Alice Skye). Reproduced here with permission from Nathan Bird and Bad Apples Music.  Special thanks to: Makeup artist Rosie Kilvert @rosiekalina, Eddie Fitzpatrick and Marieke Hardy from Melbourne Writers Festival, Coco Eke from Bad Apples Music, and Carolyn Logan. 
In this special live episode, presented and recorded at the Sydney Opera House as part of the All About Women festival, Nakkiah and Miranda are joined by actor and budding director Shari Sebbens to unpack the fall out from the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther. They discuss how and why colonialism has become a subtext for mainstream blockbusters from Thor Ragnarok to Black Panther, and consider whether Australia is ready to play with terminology seeped in the violence of colonisation. Can a First Nations woman jokingly refer to a white Australian as a “coloniser” without blow back? Is Australia ready to be playful with language and stories from the colonial period? Credits: Hosted by: Nakkiah Lui @nakkiahlui and Miranda Tapsell @missmirandatapProduced and edited by Nicola Harvey @nicolaharveySpecial thanks to: Tod Deely, Ed Nixon, Shane Johnson from the Sydney Opera House Recording & Broadcast studio, Sydney Opera House event Production staff, the Talks & Ideas programming team behind All About Women, and Uncle Richard Green for use of the audio welcome to country.
We decided to record a bonus episode because recently Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull landed a pretty big blow on Indigenous Australians. Last week, he rejected the Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposed in the Uluru Statement From The Heart – a way forward for recognition devised by hundreds of Indigenous leaders earlier this year. We’re recording this conversation in front of a small live audience at Junket, a Canberra conference for future leaders and people doing interesting things. Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell invited delegates into Nakkiah’s cosy hotel room to talk to about race in this country.And to ask them the question we ask all guests: when did you first realise your race mattered?We’ll be back in 2018 with Season 2, until then you can contact the hosts @nakkiahlui and @missmirandatapDon’t forget, you’re Pretty… For An Aboriginal.
In a perfect world Miranda Tapsell would be the star of a wildly successful rom-com, or a franchised superhero film. The Frances Ha or Jessica James of Australia, or an Aboriginal Storm in the next edition of X-Men. But in order to be Australia’s favourite romantic lead, Miranda has to write her own feature film because…let’s be honest — lead roles for Aboriginal actors in a rom-com aren’t all that common. But is there a shift afoot?Australian actors Blessing Mokgohloa (who was born in Zimbabwe), and Arka Das (Bangladesh), are increasingly being cast as the “hot guy” and the “best friend” in Australian films and on television. In this funny and honest episode, Miranda and Nakkiah unpack the layers of race and racism in Australia, and consider how TV is (or is not) reflecting their lived experience. And they explore the differences between the black immigrant experience and the black Indigenous experience. Is there a point of connection, or just layers of difference and hardship?
Nakkiah and Miranda talk about race even when they’re not talking about race. It permeates their daily experience. Across the first season of Pretty For An Aboriginal, Nakkiah and Miranda have talked a lot about how important African American culture is to young Aboriginal people. Across TV, music, film and social media, it validates and makes visible much of their experience — the experience of being part of a community that continually battles subtle (and overt) societal and institutional racism. But the First Nations’ network is also a strong, important community that in North America especially is carving out new spaces for protest and political change. And much of it is being lead by young, social media-savvy warriors. In this episode Nakkiah and Miranda talk to Anishinaabe TV host, dancer and advocate Sarain Fox about the lessons learnt from the past 18 months of social and live activism, and the new wave of young Aboriginal women who are leading protest movements in Australia and North America. 
In this episode Nakkiah and Miranda talk to acclaimed stage and screen actor Shari Sebbens about code switching, why Taika Waititi is the mentor aspiring filmmakers of colour need, and why accents are such strong signifiers of race. They each have funny and confronting personal stories regarding assumptions made about race and cultural identity on the basis of accent. They’ll discuss what accents tell us about current societal hierarchies in Australia. Is the ability to change one’s accent a source of freedom? And what do you risk losing if you can and do sink into another voice?
In this episode Miranda Tapsell and Nakkiah Lui, share stories with former Dolly editor Marina Go about perceptions of beauty in Australia, and discuss how beauty is being defined on Aussie TV and in magazines. They also explore how and why Instagram has opened up a space of freedom for women of colour. Marina Go became editor of the iconic teenage Australian magazine Dolly at the age of 23. She, like Nakkiah and Miranda, learned about her body, sex and relationships by ripping open the sealed section of the magazine every month. Reading Dolly was a defining experience for many young Australian women, but the girls shown in the magazine did not look like our hosts and guest. The majority were “blonde and blue-eyed”, recalls Marina. “Growing up I never, ever saw anyone who looked like me … that’s why, when I became the editor I was determined to make sure there were women or girls who looked like I did. “I wanted girls who looked like me to see themselves.” 
In this frank episode, Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell talk to LA-based, Melbourne model Emily Sears about the begetting of power through provocative imagery, why sexy women are feared, and why sexy black women are feared even more. In 2016, Emily made headlines when, upon receiving unsolicited graphic DMs from (mostly male) followers, she started to respond by sending back photos of their mothers, found on social media accounts. Or forwarding the messages to the sender’s partners, wives or girlfriends.Now, Emily uses her significant social media presence – 4.2 million followers on Instagram and 160,000 on Twitter – to advocate for body positivity, and push back on what she sees as a culture of pervasive male entitlement in social media.Follow our hosts @nakkiahlui & @missmirandatap 
In this wide-ranging interview with American writer and essayist Roxane Gay, Nakkiah and Miranda trade stories about their mutual love of ice skating; compare experiences with weight loss and surgery; and consider why fat women aren’t allowed to be sexual in popular culture, yet are festishised and sexualised without question. And they tackle sexism in Australia.
When Nakkiah and Miranda drew up their interview wish list for the podcast it was dominated by African American actors, writers and musicians. Like so many other young Australians, Miranda and Nakkiah have looked to the US for inspiration. In politics, protest and art, the African American community has shown talented young Indigenous Australians a way forward — towards success, change and brilliance. In this episode Miranda and Nakkiah chat with Australian actor and <i>Orange Is The New Black</i> star Yael Stone about heroes, allies, cultural cringe, fame and how we tell stories and make art about life in Australia that will inspire a younger generation.
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