Wendy Strehlow: What inspired you to become a performer?
Nisrine Amine: Had it not been for my high school years at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta under the guidance of my Drama teacher Ms Julia Homfray, I don’t think I would have ever had the
courage to enter a career in the arts. She saw my potential and believed in me so strongly that
it subsequently made me (bring out the violins!) believe in myself. I am also inspired EVERY
SINGLE DAY by my family and friends, by the people I meet, the people I observe on the
streets (in a very discreet and non-creepy way), the stories I read, the sounds I hear. How can
we live in a world, on a planet, that is BUSTING with stories and life and heartache and
conflict and love and struggle and courage and NOT be inspired? Not be inspired to write
about it all? To share and celebrate it all? C’est impossible!
Who do you admire as an artist?
Not any one person in particular but generally speaking (and excuse my French) those who
don’t give a fuck. The ones who are so strongly compelled to be nothing but themselves, who
own their craft, who own their voice and who see artistry and creativity as being something
bigger than themselves – a duty, a responsibility. On a more practical note, I admire people
who are persistent and consistent, primarily because I can tend to be neither of those things.
Oh, and I love writer/director/producer combination people. Like Lena Dunham and Mindy
Kaling or people who turn their real life experiences into art like Benjamin Law and Josh
What made you join the The Leftovers Collective?
I got a random call one day from Curly whom I’d never met but who happened to be a friend
of Bali Padda (who I also hadn’t really met but we were FB mates which counts for a lot in
this day and age – Hi Bali!). Curly said that he was looking for an Arabic speaker to join the
crew and Bali had recommended me and the rest is history. I did my first show with the
Leftovers where I had to recount a Jacobean text in Arabic. I think I scared half the audience
because the Arabic language is harsh enough let alone using it to deliver a passionate speech
from the Jacobean era. Ai yai yai. It was a lot of fun though! Experimental, social,
provocative theatre isn’t something I normally gravitate to but being part of this collective
has definitely helped to cultivate my fondness of the art form.
Have you ever experienced racism in your daily life and in the arts industry?
There have been many times where I’ve visited parts of Sydney and felt a little ‘ethnic’. Like
I very much am aware of the fact that sometimes, the ratio of ‘me people’ to ‘white people’ is
1 to A LOT. Which is so so silly because for goodness sakes, I’ve been in Australia for almost
30 years (we migrated from Lebanon when I was three and a half). But in terms of direct
racism, no, never. Oh, although, I did visit Tamworth once with some cousins of mine and I
could swear that a group of girls at the pub were pointing at us. I think one of them mouthed
the words ‘Oh, they must be Sydney girls’. Maybe they just had an aversion to Sydney and
not necessarily Lebanese people. Who knows. As for racism in the arts? No. Maybe there
have been conversations and opportunities lost behind my back, but I choose to believe that
people are good and so I don’t invite that sort of treatment into my space.
Tell me the background of your first and last name.
Well, my first name comes from the Persian word ‘Nasrin’ meaning ‘wild rose’. So I’m
named after a flower which is great because one of my favourite shows is Keeping Up
Appearances and the four sisters in that are all named after flowers. A fact that makes me feel
that much closer to Hyacinth Bouquet. Not ‘Bucket’. (Only true fans of the show would get
that joke!) As for my last name, not too sure where that comes from. Somewhere in Lebanon
I imagine. My ancestor’s surnames were Maatouk so I think ‘Amine’ is an evolved version of
that. Oh, here’s a question: if my grandfather was born in Cuba to Lebanese parents, that
makes me a tiny bit Cuban, no? Am I allowed to claim that?
Nisrine Amine: You won a Logie for Best Supporting Actress in 1985 for your role of Judy Loveday in A Country Practice. Do you remember what that night was like and what you were feeling?
Wendy Strehlow: I do remember the night very well. Bill Collins and Anne Baxter gave me the Logie and
Country Practice won a swag of awards that night. I felt really proud of the show.
Having been in the industry for well over 30 years, what has been the one thing that has kept you coming back (despite the ARGHH that sometimes comes with being an actor)?
I have a passion for telling stories and I do feel like I have found my tribe. I love working
with actors and creatives and it gives me such joy to be able to do so.
What made you join the The Leftovers Collective?
I met Curly during Love’s Labours Lost by Sport for Jove and we clicked! I like the way he
thinks outside of the box and love exploring new ways of presenting Shakespeare.
Invasia is a social experiment in racism and rule playing at Hustle and Flow Bar Redfern on Australia Day. What does it mean to you to be an ‘Australian’?
My family came here from Europe and ended up in Central Queensland. I have always felt a little outside of things but to be Australian I want to be inclusive and compassionate because WE ALL CAME HERE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! This always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.
Tell us an interesting story about your name.
My last name is Strehlow, but it may have been anglicized from Stralov we think. Over the years misspelling and bad listening skills have morphed it into Strehlow.
Nisrine Amine and Wendy Strehlow can be seen in Invasia by The Leftovers Collective.
Dates: 26 Jan, 2017
Venue: Hustle & Flow Bar, Redfern