ABC leads the way for Australia at global diversity awards

[by Peter Munro]


Deborah Mailman, Rachel Griffiths and Rachel Perkins. Image: supplied

ABC political drama Total Control and ABC Children’s short film And Then Something Changed have won prestigious awards celebrating diversity and inclusion across the international television industry.

The Indigenous-led Total Control, produced by Blackfella Films and starring Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths, won the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for Representation of Race and Ethnicity, beating US series Twenties and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.  

ABC ME series And Then Something Changed, produced by Sticky Pictures as part of the DisRupted funding program to support Australian creatives with disability, won the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award in the Kids’ Programming category, beating UK program Pablo and Canadian program Lockdown.

The ABC series were the only Australian winners of the annual MIPCOM Diversify Awards, announced in Paris overnight, which recognise outstanding television programs that create more opportunities for diverse talent and demonstrate the positive impact of diversity across the global media landscape.

Total Control star Deborah Mailman, who plays an Indigenous Senator who wants to settle a score against her party and the Prime Minister of Australia, said: “This is a production I’m most proud of. It’s a dream to play such a complex and ambitious character that brings a unique voice to the screen. It’s wonderful that Blackfella Films, the ABC and all involved have been honoured on the international stage in this way. It’s absolutely thrilling.”

Sally Riley, ABC Head of Drama, Entertainment & Indigenous content, said: “I’m ecstatic about this award because we have been working so hard in this area for a very long time. It’s great to see diverse Australian writers, directors, actors and producers getting international recognition and congratulations to Blackfella Films and the amazing team they gathered for this show.

“Total Control for the ABC really struck a chord with our audiences because they are seeing a powerful Indigenous woman on screen fighting for what she believes in. It’s not a stereotypical role – she’s authentic, she’s sassy, she’s irreverent and just a really great character.”

Darren Dale, Managing Director and Producer at Blackfella Films, said: “Blackfella Films has always championed Indigenous voices and fought to have more inclusive stories on our screens, so this award is a wonderful affirmation of all we have aspired to.

“Deborah Mailman is a powerhouse actor and the combination of her extraordinary gifts and Rachel Griffiths’ brilliance made a thrilling drama where overt notions of diversity and inclusion became irrelevant, because they were simply intrinsic to the power of the story. And that is where we all want to be.”

Total Control also won the 2019 AACTA Awards for Best Drama, Best Lead Actress in a TV Drama for Mailman and Best Supporting Actress in a TV Drama for Griffiths.

And Then Something Changed, starring Theo Watson-Bonnice, enabled audiences to discover what it’s like to be a child with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and to have to navigate a world that isn’t built for you. The short film screened on ABC ME to celebrate International Day of People with Disability on 3 December 2019.

Libbie Doherty, ABC Head of Children's, said: "Breakout newcomer Theo Watson-Bonnice delivers a standout performance in this wonderful and clever film about the inaccessibility of the world around his character Luis. Huge congratulations to all the team behind the scenes, including Eliza Hull and Sticky Pictures, Donna Andrews and Stu Connolly. We are thrilled this film has been recognised."

Eliza Hull, the film’s creator and producer, said: “I am very thrilled that our short film And Then Something Changed was awarded a MIPCOM Diversify award. What an incredible opportunity! Thanks to ABC Kids, Sticky Pictures and all the crew and cast, especially our lead star Theo Watson-Bonnice. As a person with a disability, I feel exceptionally proud of how the film shines a light on disability.”


Donna Andrews, CEO of Sticky Pictures, said: “Sticky Pictures is thrilled to win a MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for our short film And Then Something Changed. We are incredibly proud of this film and the wonderful team behind it, with special thanks to Producer Eliza Hull, Director Keiran Watson-Bonnice and our young, very talented star Theo Watson-Bonnice.”

And Then Something Changed and Total Control are available to watch now on ABC iview.

In 2018, ABC ME drama First Day won the inaugural MIPCOM Diversify prize for outstanding children’s programming across all genres, for promoting understanding and acceptance of children who are transitioning.


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