Joy Hopwood on the meaning of Abundance

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.


– 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.


The Wong Side of Life


“The Wong Side of Life” is a charity play for The Cancer Council.

This is my gift for the community. It’s a play about resilience and

friendship; it covers topics such as bullying, racism and cancer.


After the passing of my mother on October 15th, 2012 last year,

I wanted to write a play that comes from my heart, a play that

has hidden life messages which can open people’s minds.

This play is semi-autobiographical.


It’s an Australian drama-comedy musical premiere, set in the future – 2101.

The Wong Side of Life, has puppets and actors playing alongside each

other in this beautiful love story. It has a futuristic theme. Gone are

the days where people used to travel by buses, cars, trains

and planes as people now travel by supersonic jet packs!


This love story is about two people, Lin Wong and Reece Hart,

who hail from two very different worlds. Lin lives in Sunnyside,

your average working-class suburb whereas Reece

comes from a showbiz family and is a comedian! He and his mother,

Marie Manchester, live in the exclusive suburb of Moonside. Reece’s

mother is totally against their relationship as Lin comes from the

“wrong side”. It is not until Lin’s father, Dr Wong, moves their family

to China, due to his work that Marie’s perception on life changes,

as she is diagnosed with cancer. She realises that the only time we

should ever look down on a person, is to hold out our hand to help

them up and that she had been wrong about life.


I’ve put all my finances on the line for this and my sponsors
Buttar Cauldwell and Co. Solicitors, The Cupcake Princess &
Bowel Cancer Australia (who gave me a community grant)
have taken a risk on me too.
I hope the hidden life messages about bullying, racism and
cancer will be well received.


The Concourse, Chatswood, NSW

Mon 25 Mar 2013 7:30PM


Ticket pricing at:
The Concourse, Chatswood, NSW on
Mon 25 Mar 2013 7:30PM

View Venue Map

Categories Price Range
A Reserve $22.50 – $90.00

Daffodil Day 2012



This year started off to be challenging for me, coping with the death of my

mother, who passed away on 15th October 2011 from bowel cancer and

secondary liver cancer. I admit I do have a little cry each day,

but what keeps my spirit alive is having a purpose in life, this year being an

Ambassador for the Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day.



Booking a holiday to New York was the best medicine for me, it was a

temporary escape. The city that never sleeps inspired me with its art and

Broadway shows, so much so that I bought a note book and

couldn’t stop drawing ideas for artworks and wrote a play called, “The Wong

Side of Life.” I wanted one of the characters to have cancer (like my mother) but

also to be a racist, so the theme of the play would be of cancer and racism and

to add light in the story, I’ve included upbeat music, puppets and actors. I then

couldn’t wait to get back to Sydney to finish writing the play. I thought that this

play could be a “charity” play and I could donate a percentage to the Cancer

Council. After I had finished writing my play, I then showed it to The Cancer

Council. They loved the idea so much that asked me to be an Ambassador for

their Daffodil Day 2102. I was so happy that my play would have a purpose and

that I had the opportunity to go out into the schools and talk to school children

about cancer and the importance of looking after yourself, like eating healthy

food, exercising regularly and being sun smart. It was great to visit schools from

different social-economic backgrounds and I loved each and every one. For

example, I loved how La Perouse Public school has a fruit and vegetable garden,

which the children look after and eat from each day.


I was also touched to be part of a special school assembly at Belrose Public

School and I was impressed that Kambala girls’ school has “charity” prefects that

have a committee which chooses the charities the girls are moved by and  want

to be part of each year.


So on Friday 24th August, I hope everyone can pay forward the hope for a

cancer free future by buying a bunch of daffodils, or buy a Dougal bear, or

donate – www.daffodilday.com.au and support the Cancer Council’s Daffodil

Day. Funds raised will go towards cancer research, prevention and information

and support services. Together we can make this world a better place and

hopefully a cancer free future.


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