Interview with Aileen Huynh starring in David Williamson’s latest play – The Big Time

The Big Time - by Brett Boardman sml

Aileen Huynh is a Australian-Vietnamese actor who has appeared in films

including, Tim Ferguson’s Spin Out, The Casting Game and  T.V. shows:

Cleverman, Betterman and Neighbours. She is now starring

in David Williamson’s latest play, The Big Time, at the Ensemble



This is a fast paced, modern play which depicts the wonderful

world of entertainment where Celia (Aileen Huynh) is playing a lead role

in a soapie, earning her big money and her friend Vicki (Claudia Barrie),

whom she graduated from NIDA with, is doing the hard yards creating

worthwhile art for smaller, sophisticated audiences. It’s not until Vicki

turns her hand into film directing that she has the opportunity to cast Celia,

but will jealousy and bitterness get the best of her?


I feel this is David Williamson’s best work as he’s able to draw on personal

experience in the entertainment industry – that of his sons who both

attended drama school and his daughter who is an agent, and his wife who

was a theatre critic. I particularly love the twists and turns and the fact that

colourblind casting played a big part in this play.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Aileen for our Diversity Spotlight post.


The Big Time by Prudence Upton sml
J.H: What was it like reading David Williamson’s latest play?
A.H: David’s latest play is about the acting industry and the ruthless
world of ambition and celebrity. It was quite funny reading it as a
performer and seeing certain parallels and reflecting on my own
experiences in the industry. David’s whole family have had careers
in the arts, so he had a lot to draw from!!
J.H: What was it like meeting Mr Williamson during your play read?
A.H: Meeting David was such a pleasure. He is a very kind-spirited,
easy-going (and VERY tall) man. I remember writing my HSC drama
essay on ‘The Removalists’,  so it was quite the moment for me to sit
around a table with him in the flesh and read his new play.
J.H: What changes have you seen in the last few years in regards to diversity?
A.H: The last few years have seen a huge wave of dialogue and conversation
in regards to the need for diversity in our industry, and it is starting to filtrate
into some changes within the industry. We are starting to see a much richer
range of stories that are being told across our stages, which has wonderfully
drawn in a more diverse range of theatre goers.
Although I feel Australian mainstream TV is very slow on the uptake,
there is a much different feeling through platforms like Netflix,
which make such a wide range of content, many of which authentically
celebrate diversity and have proven that there are big audience numbers
who want this. And then you have opportunities like
‘The Big Time’ that have come along, where for the first time in my
acting career onstage, I am playing a character that is not race-specific
to my background, and it is a wonderfully weird thing.
Aileen play
J.H: How can we maintain and keep diversity going in the
entertainment industry?


A.H: Maintaining, improving, keeping diversity alive and importantly

giving it its most authentic voice means representation needs to happen

both on and behind the scenes. Diversity must start from the key members:

CEO’s, producers, directors, writers and it must filter through to cast, crew

and all the other players. There is a feeling at the moment that diversity is,

‘in’, or ‘on-trend’, and we are more willing to showcase it on our screens

and stages while it’s hot. However diversity isn’t a novelty and going

to die out.


Far more change needs to happen in our working environments,

which is changing far slower than representation onscreen, where it

can be more easily called out.  The same teams and people are ultimately

still the gate-keepers. To really embrace diversity and genuinely reflect

our society we need to have more balance within the whole machine.

J.H: What has been most challenging as an actor?
A.H: For me, one of the most challenging things has been maintaining
such a topsy turvy lifestyle. Each week is different, things can get thrown
at you last minute and it’s hard to ever get into a long-term routine or flow.
It’s something I’m still constantly trying to work out and improve and it
never gets any easier.
J.H: What advice do you have for the next generation of actors?
A.H: Be kind to each other, share information, work together –
it will only make your career stronger.
Photos courtesy of Ensemble theatre, Brett Boardman, Haiha Le
and Prudence Upton
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