Who is Nakkiah Lui?
Nakkiah Lui is a Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman who is predominantly known as an award-winning playwright and writer. This summary, does not encompass the vast array of projects and talents that Nakkiah has under her belt and no doubt, hiding up her sleeve.
Before shooting to stardom and success, Nakkiah was a young, theatre-loving girl from Sydney who had dreams of being an entertainer. These aspirations carried her to the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) where she was able to harness her performance and writing skills. In later years, this Sydney native would go on to pair together these two skills in work such as comedy series, Kiki and Kitty as well as ABC’s Black Comedy, both of which Nakkiah wrote and played a starring role in.
Tracing over the rest of Lui’s resume, any reader would be awestruck by the seemingly unending talents this woman possesses. Titles including published author, actress, columnist, comedian, community leader and playwright (to name a few) would scatter the document. Each of these titles isn’t simply a one-time thing, resume filler or tried-and-failed experience; Nakkiah has flourished in each of these roles, providing entertainment across various mediums which has undeniably contributed to her wide-spread and diverse following.
Nakkiah Lui has been a playwright-in-residence for Sydney's Belvoir Theatre and artist-in-residence for the Griffin Theatre. Most recently however, in addition to her playwriting, she has made regular radio appearances and co-hosts a Buzzfeed podcast called Pretty for an Aboriginal (with Miranda Tapsell). On this podcast, best friends Lui and Tapsell hilariously banter, discussing anything from successful women to relationship drama and everything in between.
Despite her ambition and determination growing up, I don’t think even Lui could have foreseen the degree of her success she has today; that she would grow up to be the first recipient of “The Dreaming Award” from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council as well as the inaugural recipient of the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright Award. All these achievements are by no means a small feat in such a hyper-competitive industry. Where Nakkiah stands apart from the crowd in the mass of talented artists is her outlook on making social change. Though she has taken on intense tragedies in her playwrighting, a lot of her work, including Black is the New White, highlight her comedic strength and the way sheuses laughter as a tool to make social commentary. Lui is someone who realises the power of having a platform and is taking innovative measures to ensure she makes the most of the voice she has.
Nakkiah Lui is not only an inspiring leader in the Australian Aboriginal community but she is a creative pioneer in the theatre and television world bringing fresh stories forward which challenge their audience to reflect on societal issues without forcing these issues down anyone’s throat. During a time which demands great entertainment and equally craves social justice, Nakkiah Lui is the creative mind we’ve all been waiting for.
By Bronte Tomkins
Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of Black is the New White will be showing at the State Theatre Centre 11 - 22 September 2019.
Pictured: Luke Carroll, Tony Briggs and Melodie Reynolds-Diarra in Black is the New White. By Prudence Upton.