Q & A with Australian screenwriter / producer / director Tony Ayres

Tony Ayres (born 16 July 1961) is a Chinese-born Australian screenwriter, director in television and feature film. He is most notable for his films Walking on Water and The Home Song Stories, as well his work in television –The Slap and teen adventure series Nowhere Boys. He’s Executive producer on Maximum Choppage (a six part kung fu comedy series for the ABC starring Lawrence Leung) and The Family Law (six part comedy series for SBS based upon the memoirs of Chinese Australian journalist, Benjamin Law).

Tony Ayres

Q. When you were growing up who were your role models on Australian TV & Film?

Tony: When I was a kid, I actually avoided Australian film and TV.  There was nothing that I watched, except for getting the occasional guilty glimpse of “Number 96” or “The Box”.  Perhaps it was because I felt a typical Australian cultural cringe?  Or perhaps because there was no one on the screen who represented “me”?  Or some weird amalgam of both.  The shows I loved were mainly American TV shows.

Q. What made you want to break into Australian TV / Film?

Tony: I had always loved words and wanted to be a writer, but half way through my university degree, I realised that academia was killing my passion for literature.  I ended up changing to a visual arts degree at the Canberra School of Art.  If I had found a creative writing course, I probably would have done that.  Film and TV for me was never a driving  passion, more a logical deduction.  Words + plus pictures = screen.  It was only when I started getting into the area that I grew to love it.

Q. How did you get started in your career? 

Tony: After film schools (both VCA and AFTRS), I started work as a TV writer, and was fortunate enough to get work from the start.  Lucky, because I entered the industry relatively late (my late twenties).  Those were the days when SBS was starting to produce scripted drama, and there was a greater appetite for multicultural stories.  I wrote a number of TV plays for a number of anthology series- “Under the Skin”, “Six Pack” and “Naked-  Stories of Men”- which gave me a grounding in writing drama.  As well, I started directing documentaries and short dramas which gave me a taste for directing.  I feel like I was at the right time at the right  place because I was able to make an early career out of the marginal identity politics which I was personally grappling with-  being Chinese, being gay, being Chinese and gay.  I think that’s harder to do these days.

Q. Do you see a positive change to colour blind casting in Australian TV / Film and Theatre and do you incorporate this method of casting in your own productions? 

Tony: Honestly, whilst I think the rhetoric has evolved, in the scripted area  I don’t think that there has been a substantial change in terms of colour blind casting.  Every few years a non-Anglo actor will do a significant film or TV role and in the press junket raise the question of diversity as a public issue.  There will be a flurry of associated articles, and these days a bunch of “likes” on Facebook, but soon after the status quo will settle again.  The network mental “default” will still to be to white.  Non-white cultures will still be massively under-represented.  It will be just as hard for non-Anglo actors who attract attention through a breakout role to sustain their careers.  Diversity for the Australian entertainment industry is like “gay marriage” for Australian politics.  A lot of people believe in it, but few people are prepared to cross the floor to vote for it.

For there to be substantial change, I think that it’s about the people who are genuinely invested in the issue of diversity (ie people from diverse backgrounds themselves) becoming the decision makers, the commissioners, the network executives, the makers.   I guess I’d look at my own work as an example.  Diversity is important to me because I have personally felt the effect/damage of growing up Chinese in a white culture.   So, it’s one of the determinants of what I do.  My kids show, “Nowhere Boys” has a recurring role for a Chinese Australian actor (and the actors playing his family).  I’m currently executive producing “Maximum Choppage” (six part kung fu comedy series for the ABC starring Lawrence Leung) and  “The Family Law” (six part comedy series for SBS based upon the memoirs of Chinese Australian journalist, Benjamin Law).  And I’m also EP’ing a feature film, “Ali’s Wedding”, a Muslim romantic comedy.

Q. What changes do you want to see happen in the entertainment industry?

Tony: In terms of diversity, I’d like the Australian government funding bodies to take this issue seriously enough to create some kind of quota system in terms of representation.  The US and UK industries have both found relatively benign ways to legislate for diversity, and I don’t think it’s harmed their products or their share of the world market.

Finally what projects are you currently working on? 

Tony: Aside from the shows listed above, I’m also executive producing a new show for ABC Drama called “Glitch” which is the ABC’s first supernatural TV series, and EP’ing and co-writing the feature film version of “Nowhere Boys”.   There are some exciting new projects in early days as well, yet to be announced.  But a recurring theme of diversity can be traced through them all.

Q and A interview with Benjamin Law about diversity

Benjamin Law and Joy

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, and has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies. He’s also member of M.E.A.A. as a freelance writer.

Benjamin is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards.

Benjamin is also a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age).

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books B

What made you want to write your story – The Family Law?
I’d been writing personal columns for frankie for a while, and I noticed the ones that made reference to my family – especially my mum – got a great response. Which isn’t surprising, really – my mum is pretty hilarious, unique and baffling, in the way that only mothers can be. And after I wrote longer pieces for an anthology called Growing Up Asian in Australia, my now-editor approached me, asking if I had a book up my sleeve. Part of what motivated me to write The Family Law was this idea of writing a book I wish I’d read as a teenager. One with a hilariously dysfunctional Chinese-Australian family.

 

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After writing your story, what steps did you take in order to get your story / screenplay seen by a network or producer?

I didn’t actually seek out screen options myself. I think my publisher would’ve had chats with production companies, and the book was also on people’s radars after a certain point. But when I heard Matchbox Pictures and Tony Ayres – whose work I’d admired for years before we even met  – were interested, I knew they were the ones for me.
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Your screenplay will obviously open doors for diversity…however will your screenplay also be open for “colourblind casting?” 

I’m only on the show as a writer, so I don’t get to call those shots.
Benjamin Law photo 1
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Can you reveal how many roles will be Asian? 
What I can say is that roughly 90% of the cast is explicitly written as Chinese-Australian, so we’ll need the majority of actors to have Asian faces. There are a handful of other roles which are specifically for Eurasian actors, and some roles are definitely white. As for the other roles, I reckon that can and should go to as many different actors as possible!

 

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When you were growing up in Australia, who were your role models on television and / or film and why? 

 
There weren’t a huge number of Asian faces on telly when I was growing up. My family and I used to point at the TV and scream in excitement if there was an Asian on TV: “THERE’S AN ASIAN ON THE TEEEE-VEEEEEEEE!” But there was definitely celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong, on Good Morning Australia, and Dr Cindy Pan on sex/life, and I remember seeing Clara Law’s beautiful feature Floating Life, which affected me a lot. But I’d usually look overseas for Asian representation on screen. I mean, I watched The Joy Luck Club A LOT. But it’s getting better nowadays, and reality TV has done heaps to reflect how diverse Australia actually is. You see a lot more Asian-Australians in local comedies and dramas, but not nearly enough.
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What are you looking forward to in the future on Australian television?
I’m really looking forward to Lawrence Leung’s kung-fu comedy Maximum Choppage on ABC2 next year.
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Ben 2
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Joy House Film Festival – why we need “joy” and “diversity”

On the 21st of September was the second Joy House Film Festival and there was definitely “joy” in the air.

Everyone was given a fun “joy” show bag courtesy of our sponsor Bendigo Bank and we showcased the best short films from Sydney and overseas. With the ongoing theme of “joy” displayed in every film, uplifted our audience. The purpose of this film festival is to have an hour and a half of family entertainment with the public feeling more positive afterwards.

The Joy House Film festival also proudly supports diversity. Our Diversity sponsor, Aardvark Casting director – Barbara Harvey, says “It’s so important for film makers to embrace diversity throughout the entire creative process from writing through to casting and with your influence we will naturally see diversity on our screens.”

Together we can make a difference having a festival like this which is proudly supported by Actor’s Equity Australia’s Diversity committee.

“We can make a change for the better and we’ll continue to pursue this vision so eventually in time we’ll see positive results in our culture #Diversity on all our screens. This is a platform for emerging film makers wanting to portray a positive story or message!” says founder and artistic director Joy Hopwood.

 

2014 National Storage winner - final pic

Hannah Klassek Winner of National Storage Artarmon’s Best Film Award.

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Paul Boykos ( Bendigo Bank manager ) congratulating

Josh Lorschy on winning Bendigo Bank’s Youth Award.

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Joy Hopwood presenting Mansoor Noor with the

Aardvark Casting’s best Diversity award.

 

 

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Sukhmani Khorana, Indigo Willing with programming director-

Amadeo Marquez Perez.

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Authors Walter Mason and Pam Newton at this year’s Joy House Film Festival

How to do Crowdfunding Successfully

Today’s Vivid Ideas event, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney) was about crowdfunding –How We’re funding Creative Work Now.

Sponsored by The Walkleys and Actors Equity / M.E.A.A.

vivid outside

This was a great session for anyone trying to successfully build a crowdfunding campaign. There were four fantastic speakers who’ve built successful campaigns.

vivid men

DAN ILLIC (A RATIONAL FEAR)

Dan spoke of the importance of having a successful pitch to start off with. His goal was to make satirical comedy online and he needed 50k to do this. Dan firstly made a pitch video which he stresses has to be of decent quality. As your pitch video reflects the quality of your campaign and your end product. Dan also had unusual, eye-catching rewards :

$200+   ( You’ll be a V.I.P. and gain access to every live show)

$500+  (You’ll be a V.V.I.P. and have access to every show and a drink with a      member of his team)

$1000+ (You’ll receive a t-shirt with the words “I paid $1000 for this” printed on it)

$2000+ (We’ll do a show just for you!)

$5000+ (You’ll get to have coffee with him on his dinghy boat)

Getting key, influential people on board helped Dan’s campaign as he got Ed Coper (from GetUp) who helped him spread the word and he instantly got 12K overnight thanks to Ed.

TOM DAWKINS (StartSomeGood)

Tom’s StartSomeGood takes on any project that likes to make some good for the world. He said that crowdfunding isn’t new, in fact, crowdfunding helped build the Statue of Liberty in New York. Even though crowdfunding is easy money, you have to plan your campaign and most successful campaigns take approximately 90 days. (30 days in planning – leading up to your campaign, 30 days for campaigning and 30 days fulfilment followup). He stresses that your crowdfunding starts with your immediate community – friends, family, relatives, peers, (i.e. the yellow part of the circle) and it builds outwards, tribes – associates, work colleagues (i.e. the red part of the circle) then to crowds – social media connections, crowds etc (i.e. blue part of the circle).

vivid model final

An important part of your campaign is your story. Ask yourself, who are you selling your story to? Know your audience. He gave us some interesting facts:

SUCCESS RATES OF OTHER CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS

Kickstarter has approximately 44% success rate

Pozible has approximately 50% success rate

IndieGoGo has approximately 9% success rate

He stresses that crowdfunding isn’t about “crowds” and when you list your campaign on one of these crowdfunding platforms, you can’t expect them to be like the whitepages where you list your event and expect the site to do the work for you and your audience will magically appear. No, you must use it only as a tool. Use your event as a reward for reaching your goal. You will fail if you don’t have a good pitch or you don’t have a community to pitch to or you don’t have any great offers. You will know if you have a good campaign if people share it with others. For example they will share it on social media – like Facebook or Twitter etc. If people don’t share your campaign, then this is a good indication that your campaign or pitch is of poor quality because people aren’t spreading the word.

Motivations why we part with money:

* to get more money

* purchasing / shopping for an item

* positive social outcome

* express relationship – we want to support a friend / community.

Your campaign must successfully connect with people.

vivid

NATHAN EARL (PLONK)

Nathan successfully aligns crowdfunding with brands. He successfully teamed up his web series The Plonk with Tourism (e.g. Tourism N.S.W.)  He made 22 episodes in 28 days. Each episode is 3-7 minutes. He spent 9-10 months speaking with marketing teams and companies. He was the one in power, making sure corporate companies were of a good fit to his show. He didn’t give out the desperate vibe of “please back my show.” Nathan was in control and he stressed the importance of brand integration and distribution of his web series. Once distribution is in place the first time, it will then be easier for him to make a second series.

DINO DIMITRIADIS (APOCALYPSE THEATRE COMPANY)

What is important for Dino is to build an arts community around theatre and to make sure artists (actors) are paid. His story pitch is – Artists need to be paid, artists should not work for free. Dino said the conversation needs to be bigger than the pitch. (I totally agree with Dino and his pitch for this was powerful, ETHICAL and convincing, as I always like to pay / reward / feed my actors). He says so often actors end up doing Co-op / profit-share which often works out to be nothing, some artists are lucky that their transport costs are covered. Artists need to be paid. Dino’s first campaign was 5K for 15 days. He exceeded his target because his conversation was about paying ethically. He blogged about this regularly to his audience and shared his story on Facebook. He said once his vision was endorsed by key people at M.E.A.A. (The Media, Entertainment, Arts, Alliance) the message then spread like wildfire. He made sure his story was also featured in magazines, pin up boards, posters etc.

This session was highly informative and useful. Like always I like sharing things I’ve learned. I hope you’ll find the above information useful to build your next crowdfunding campaign. Spread the joy!

10 Super Budget Ideas (for creatives, families, pensioners, singles, students etc)

Just in time for the Federal Government’s 2014 Budget announcement. Here are some super saving budget ideas for creatives, families, students, parents, pensioners and some ways to make extra money. Some of these ideas I’ve tried and they’ve helped me, others have been recommended to me. I hope they can help you too!

 

1. FIVERR is a great website for creatives who are either looking for a service or would like to list their service of expertise, for a minimum of $5. They include Graphics / Online Marketing / Writing & Translation / Video and Animation / Music and Audio / Programming and Tech etc. You may need someone in one of those fields to do a job for you, like I needed a graphic designer. Or you may like to advertise your creative skills to get more $$ income.

Check it out-  www.fiverr.com

2.  Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for travellers looking to book accommodation around the world, online. It also allows you to list accommodation if you have a spare room which you’re looking to rent out for some extra $$ income.

Check it out- www.airbnb.com.au

budget

3.  Extras work. If you’re wanting a taste of the entertainment industry, or you’re looking for some extra $$, why not list yourself with an Extras agency. I wish I did when I was starting out and was studying at university, instead of juggling three part time jobs in sales and hospitality. You’ll be paid around $25 an hour. It’s fun and a rather easy to make money. The only drawbacks – long waiting periods between scenes and the days are often ten hours long. Bonus – easy way of making a living and you may even meet your favourite actors on set!

4. Freecycle.  This service has been recommended to me by set and prop designers and stylists I’ve worked with on film jobs. I haven’t tried this service yet, but it’s on my bucket list. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own communities. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers and membership is free.

www.freecycle.org

5. Child Care services at home and shared nannies. Some of my friends with children belong to various child home care services which they find more economical than commercial child centres (because the number of children in this service is small – (five) or they share a nanny. For more details contact –

www.Careforkids.com.au

www.share-a-nanny.com.au

www.lullabynannyshare.com.au

Or if you have experience caring for children, can provide a warm, secure and family focussed environment, and want to build your own successful home based child care business, Family Day Care Australia can give you all the information you need to become a carer.

www.careforkids.com.au

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6. Toy Libraries (and book libraries)  Toy Libraries Australia (TLA) has over 160 toy libraries in Australia. Many friends of mine with children belong to this service and find it very economical. Like book libraries, you can fill out a request form asking for the latest toy released. Downfall – requesting for the latest release isn’t a guarantee and there may be long waiting periods for popular toys.

www.toylibraries.org.au

(You may also like to start your own Toy library and all your purchases could be tax-deductible – speak to your accountant.)

birthday

7.  Aged Pensioner Discounts and services. I’ve only just recently learned that some supermarkets (like IGA) offer special discount shopping days for elderly pensioners. In Perth, IGA has 5% off for elderly pensioners on Tuesdays! Please note- Not all IGA stores offer this but some do. Also some Health Food stores offer special discounts for elderly pensioners as well. Some councils offer special services for elderly pensioners (recreational services), so I highly recommend for you to call your local councils, stores, restaurants and supermarkets and ask if they offer any special discounts /services for elderly pensioners.

8. Price Match.  Many department stores (like Myer, Officeworks, Dick Smith, Toys R Us, Kmart etc ) and some Airlines (Jetstar, Flight Centre, British Airways etc) offer price matching. They can match the price, and some may offer a slightly cheaper price for you if you have proof – catalogue / newspaper article to show.

9. Foodies Saving Ideas. My friend Lo has shared some of these great food saving ideas with me. Some of them I’m yet to do, but they’re on my bucket list! 

– A left over roast chicken carcass can be used to make chicken stock. You can boil the carcass with some vegetables (onion, carrots etc) and then freeze the chicken stock for future use.

– Brown bananas can be used for smoothies / bake banana bread.

– Old bread can be put into a food processor to make bread crumbs / cut into squares to make croutons.

– Freeze unfinished champagne, red wine, lemons, limes etc into ice-cube trays to be used later for sauces etc. Champagne cubes with orange juice.

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10. Creative recycling / Garage Sales etc. Many odds and ends can be recycled and made into creative things. For example, I’ve turned an old pair of jeans into book bag. I’ve also turned an old canvas bag into an outdoor plant pouch. Old jam, wine and mason jars can be turned into candle holders, paint brush holders, flower vases and so on. It’s just a matter of using your imagination and creativity. If you have a lot of junk which can’t be recycled, why not have a huge garage sale or attend a car boot sale.

It’s a great feeling  to spring clean your life, you’re also cleaning mental clutter and renewing your mind and soul. Give it a go and enJOY!   


10 Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

 


 10 Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Don’t forget, Mother’s Day is on Sunday May 11th. I wish my mother was still here so I could make and give her these handmade gifts.

Here’s some creative ideas I’d like to share with you. A lot of love and thought goes towards making your own Mother’s Day gifts….so show your mum some love with these creative gift ideas for her to treasure forever!

  

 

Chime bells made from decorated terracotta pots via Nûby Australia

 

 

Photos printed on cups and glasses. Found on sortrature.com

 

 

Cupcake flowers Via QVC

 

 

Fruit basket display of chocolate coated flowers Via Tammy Speed

 

 

Painted family hand prints to make a family tree. Found on indulgy.com

 

 

A hand made card. Found on tiffkeetch.blogspot.com

 

 

 

                                         Make a button clock. Found on blogs.babble.com

 

 

 I love you pop out card. Found on weibo.com

 

 



Hand printed mugs. Found on 4.bp.blogspot.com

 

 

Hand made mice pin cushions. Found on flickr.com

 


 

enJOYing Life with Meaning

 

2014 started with a burst of inspiration!

With all the work that I do, there has to be a life message or

my work has to benefit others, hence my new project

– Don’t be a LOSER campaign #racismItstopsWithme

#anti-bullying

 

After reading reports of bullying and racism

on buses and online, I felt that there’s a great need

to educate children, at a grass roots level, in order

to stop these incidences from occurring.

 

 

I felt inspired to write an awareness campaign using

The Wong Side of Life puppets and produced a catchy

music video, under the direction of Pearl Tan.

 

We’ll be launching the video at Darlington

Public School on the 20th of June. Here I’ll not

only be showing the video for the first time but I’l also

be doing a motivational speech about my personal

experiences of racism & bullying and workshopping

with children.

 

I’ll then be touring schools in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

I feel that the more schools and venues this video is shown to,

there will be less racism and bullying. Instead a sense of

understanding, tolerance and respect for others in our

community will grow.

 

This is a project I’m passionate about and it gives me great joy to

make a difference for the next generation.

 

 

Christmas Joy

 

Christmas is coming up shortly and it’s the time of the year where I reflect the

year – 2013. I always write a short list of things I’m grateful for.

 

1) Family and Friends

2) The success of The Wong Side of Life, The Joy House Film festival

and that my short film, Colour of Change – selected for film festivals,

(which means my life messages – of “joy” and “not judging people unless

you’ve walked in their shoes” & importance of diversity – will continue to spread.

3) Being able to help / contribute to charities I support – The Cancer Council

& Mission Australia.

4) Being continuously creative

5) selected for the City of Sydney’s “Crossing Boundaries” show for 2014

6) making new friends.

7) being part of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance’s Diversity Committee.

8) The privilege to have a lorikeet lay an egg on my balcony.

I’ve never had a pet before, so it was an amazing experience.

I’ll miss Little Don. My Christmas wish would be for him to

fly and visit me. That would be the best gift. Then I’d know

he’d be ok.

 

Christmas is also a difficult time for some people, as they may not be in good

health or they may have lost love ones and therefore it may be a time of

loneliness. It’s important to be mindful of these people and try to help in

a small way.

 

Every year I give books to my local Children’s hospital and give Christmas

left overs or my clothes to the homeless – a small gesture of kindness can

mean so much to people.

 

CHRISTMAS FOODIES IDEAS

ediblecrafts.craftgossip.com

 

Pinterest www.lovethispic.com

 

adventuresofabettycrockerwannabe.blogspot.com

 

Pinterest www.rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com

 

 blogs.lasoo.com.au

 

CREDITS:

Moje Wypieki, indulgy.com, http://www.lovethispic.com/image/48714/diy-food-christmas-trees,

chickabug.com, http://rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com.au/ ,  Newfoundland Memories Of Home’s Page ,

http://www.lovethispic.com/image/42356/christmas-santa-strawberries,

http://blogs.lasoo.com.au/tag/christmas-

tree/, http://www.etsy.com/, http://craftori.com/,

http://etsylush.com/, https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-

a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/227961_429493270441099_640727145_n.jpg,

 

Abundance

Joy Hopwood on the meaning of Abundance

POSTED BY WALTER MASON ON TUESDAY, 30 JULY 2013
Joy Hopwood

Joy Hopwood is an actor, writer, director and curator, and a great pal of mine. She rose to prominence as the first ever Asian-Australian to be a Play School presenter back in the 90s. I asked Joy what abundance meant to her, and here’s what she had to say:

When you look up the dictionary meaning of “abundance” it says: “A very large quantity of” (noun) or “plenty, affluence, wealth.” (synonyms).

And when I ask random people what “abundance” means to them, many of them reply: “It means having a lot of money!”

But to me “abundance” has less to do with external things like money and fame, and more to do with inner abundance. Like having an abundance of creativity or inner joy.

Every day I like to try to write in my grateful journal the things I’m happy about. The more things I can write about, the happier I am. I feel abundance in my life. Examples of some things I’ve written lately are:

  • 19/7/2013 “My friend Jennifer did a great comedy performance, handling hecklers well. She received flowers from a wonderful, kind fan. “
  • 27/ 7/2013 “My friend Maria produced a fantastic film Change of Our Lives which she acted and wrote. I’m so proud of her achievements.”
  • 28/7/ 2013 “Today I baked a cake and I controlled myself and only ate half of it.”

Personal achievements, along with those of my friends,  give me great joy and happiness. This equals abundance to me.

I’m extremely happy and feel abundance in creativity when I’m on a writing roll or creating an art piece.

When I’m really down, which happens sometimes when I miss my mother, who passed away from bowel cancer, or when friends let me down, I go to my JOY “abundance” box.

Joy’s Abundance box

It is a small box filled with handwritten “pick me up” activities. I put my hand in the box and pick out one JOY activity. Examples include:

  • Play 15 mins of a DVD of my mum
  • Put a green mask on my face
  • Bake something
  • Go to an art gallery for an hour

These are just a few examples.

To me, abundance is always being able to create JOY in my life and also being able to spread that JOY to others. And I feel I have a lot to give. This year I’ve started the Joy House Film Festival, which features short films dealing with the theme of JOY. My purpose is to recognize emerging filmmakers, especially young, multicultural and indigenous film makers; giving them a voice. I hope this will be a free yearly event to share JOY and abundance with everyone. Also I try to find something positive to say to someone I don’t know. A few weeks ago I told an elderly lady that I loved her colourful rainbow beanie and she said that she hadn’t had a compliment for over 40 years, since when her husband was alive.

Therefore abundance is something I can give because I have plenty of JOY to share and it’s something that has great inner meaning to me; great abundance in creativity and happiness.

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– See more at: http://www.waltermason.com/2013/07/joy-hopwood-on-meaning-of-abundance.html#sthash.Pf2yURZr.dpuf

“The Wong Side of Life” Blog by Walter Mason

Joy Hopwood on inspiration, acting and positive friendships

Actor and author Joy Hopwood

Joy Hopwood is best known to Australians as one of our most beloved Play School presenters. She was, in fact, the first Asian presenter on that legendary show, and one of the pioneers in champtioning diversity in popular Australian culture.
This month, Joy is presenting a brand new play, The Wong Side of Life, as a fundraising effort for the Cancer Council. It is a totally original production that features actors and puppets dealing with sensitive issues like race, bullying, death and illness. You can book tickets for this show (presented at The Concourse in Chatswood, Sydney) here.

I thought I’d ask her a few questions about life, luck and dreams:

Where do you see yourself in 5 year’s time?

I would have another book published and a television series.


Tell us about an inspiring book you’ve read lately.

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do. It’s an inspiring book by a great Australian comedian –Anh Do. He and his family came to Australia by boat and survived the journey. They started off with nothing and worked hard to survive. They never wanted any pity; they just worked hard in life, especially his mum. Anh was persistent and determined to follow his dream to become a comedian. They showed great resilience and gratitude to the opportunities this lucky country gave them. I love how people just get along with life and never feel sorry for themselves. His mother’s character reminds me of my mother’s attitude to life.


What inspired you to become an actor?

When I was on my final (drama teaching) prac in Western Australia, two children- an aboriginal boy and a Chinese girl – told me that they wanted to get into acting when they finish school, but they never saw anyone who looked like themselves on TV. They said, “Why should we even try?” I told them not to give up their dream and if I can be the first regular Asian presenter on Play School, then they can achieve their dream too. I just hope they saw me.

Joy Hopwood in Play School days

What are some tips you would give to someone wanting to build a career in a creative industry, be it acting, dance, art or writing?

To have patience and never give up their dream and to be prepared to work hard for their goals. I’ve had many knock backs; it took me 14 years to get my first piece published in Growing Up Asian in Australia, (edited by Alice Pung- Black Inc Books) and Chinese Australian Women’s Stories. Plus I had to audition twice for Play School.


Have you ever experienced a miracle?

I would say the miracles of life are the unexpected ‘random acts of kindness’ I experience day to day, which I record in my grateful journal.

The Cast of The Wong Side of Life


What are you most grateful for in life right now?

I’m grateful for the friends I have and the people I work with who have a sense of ‘community’ and ‘gratefulness’ within and who never complain or are negative….I tend to have positive friends and I like to work with positive people who don’t have egos.

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