Natalia Bassingwaighte & Betty Bassingwaighte
As a kid, I was quite the show-off. I wanted all the attention and was always putting on a performance. I did everything from Brownies to physical culture, gymnastics and ballroom dancing. My mum, Betty, was my biggest supporter. She was always there for me – and my three sisters. She never missed a dance class or a swimming competition and was backstage at every show. Over the years, she sewed thousands of sequins on my costumes.
My mum sacrificed a lot for us. She had four girls under the age of seven and my dad was away a lot, so Mum was the one getting us ready for school and running the house – as well as working as a nurse. My parents split up when I was 23 and my mum took the high road. There are no ill-feelings [in the family]. We’re all very close, and I’m forever grateful to my mum for that.
My favourite memory from childhood is of my mum coming into our room very early in the morning and singing “Good morning!” with the biggest grin ... It makes me smile thinking about it.
Ada Nicodemou & Jenny Nicodemou
My mum Jenny was always the head of our household. She worked seven days a week but took me and my brother everywhere. I grew up in a delicatessen, counting back change to customers before I went to school. I get my work ethic from my mum. She’s taught me resilience, strength and how to stick up for myself. As a Greek migrant, she’s had to be a tough woman.
My mum didn’t want me to get into acting. She wanted me to go to university and be a lawyer. Her opinion changed when I started working on Heartbreak High and she saw me earning money in a stable job [laughs]. After more than 25 years in the industry, my mum’s proudest moment was when I won Dancing with the Stars [in 2005]. She literally jumped over the barricade from the audience and grabbed the microphone from [host] Daryl Somers on live TV to tell all of Australia how proud she was of me – and to thank the Greek community for voting for me. I would totally do the same thing to my son Johnas now.
Yvonne Strahovski & Bożena Strzechowski
My mum Bożena is the original feminist. She’s from Poland, where there’s an old-school mentality that women belong in the kitchen. Mum never bought into that. She did her own thing and worked as a lab technician. My parents emigrated from Poland to Australia before I was born, when Bożena was 26. She left her home country to move to the other side of the world for a better life ... I admire her bravery. I think a lot of my adventurous spirit comes from my mum.
As well as her sense of adventure, I inherited my mum’s sensitive soul. She loves The Handmaid’s Tale, but finds it hard to watch. She gets quite moved – we have that in common.
It’s a cliché, but my mum taught me that everything always works out. She used to say, “Even through the hard times, everything will find its place. You’ve got to keep going.” I try to have that positive attitude every day.
Miranda Tapsell & Barbara Tapsell
My mum Barbara is unapologetic. She has the courage to stand up for herself without fear of being disliked for not being “friendly enough”. She’s staunch because she’s had to be – as a darkskinned Aboriginal woman. Mum knows who she is and what she believes in. That’s been grounding for me. It taught me who I was and where I stood in my community and has made me feel indestructible.
My family has always had trouble saying, “I love you” or “I’m proud of you,” so it’s been really beautiful watching my mum become more vulnerable in recent years. I remember when she came to the Cannes Film Festival for The Sapphires premiere in 2012. My mum doesn’t cry unless it’s a funeral, but she was beside herself with tears watching the film. It was her way of telling me she’s proud of me. Now she’ll say, “You were wonderful, my daughter.”
Olivia Newton-John & Irene Newton-John
My beautiful mother Irene Newton-John was strong, fierce and independent – the perfect female role model, with a deep sense of social justice. Mum taught me about eating healthily and the importance of treading lightly on our planet. She was an activist before it was even “a thing”, and was constantly campaigning for the environment in one way or another. I guess I have inherited that gene, as I have always been instinctively passionate about our planet, nature and animals. Mum always told me, “If you can help someone, do it.”
She was, and remains, the inspiration behind almost everything I do. It was with her teachings in mind that [in 2005] my close friend Gregg Cave and I created Gaia Retreat & Spa [in New South Wales’ Byron Bay hinterland], and then – together with our team – developed our new natural and organic skincare range, Retreatment Botanics.
Tracey Spicer & Marcia Spicer
It’s been 20 years since my mum Marcia passed away after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was 52, the same age as I am now. Mum was a trailblazer. She wouldn’t have called herself a feminist, but she was the first female courier driver in Queensland. She also worked as a model, childcare teacher and real estate agent. She was a career woman and worked the same number of hours as my dad. They split the household duties 50/50, which was unusual for that era.
Mum also had a wicked sense of humour and did not suffer fools gladly. She always had a comeback and taught my sister and I to stand up for ourselves – in a humorous way. There’s a lot to be said for putting people in their place with a sassy comeback. My lasting memory of my mum is her looking impossibly glamorous at a party in the ’70s, dancing with a glass of wine in her hand. I don’t remember her terrible, premature death; I just remember her being absolutely vivacious – the life of the party.