Waleed Aly wasn’t the only Logie winner to address Australia’s key social issues in their acceptance speech. Logies Hall of Fame inductee Noni Hazlehurst has made waves since last night with her thoughtful and well-argued acceptance speech calling out sexism, ageism and racism in our society.
From the moment she got on stage, she made her point succinctly and with effortless humour that drove her message home, replying to her opening applause with: “That was interminable, I was nearly too old to play myself!”
She began the speech by explaining why she has always pursued work that encouraged people to feel over the course of her 43-year career, with reference to Malcolm Turnbull’s statement that we ‘cannot be misty-eyed’ about the Manus Island debate.
“I was disturbed this week that a misty-eyed response to a particularly frightful story in the news was deemed inappropriate, and we were exhorted not to feel, not to have empathy, not to love.
“I’ve always tried to find stories that resonated on a human, empathetic level. Projects that existed to encourage people to feel and reflect, and let me tell you, that’s narrowed the field of what I’ve accepted considerably.”
Renowned for her work in Play School, her controversial and powerful role as a mother who rejects her gay son in Redfern Now, and films like Little Fish, she explained that her successful journey has been due to a combination of luck, hard work, mentoring and learning to be herself.
Though Hazlehurst has moved audiences of all ages, she described starting at Play School in 1978 as a particular learning curve.
“I started to see the world through a pre-schoolers eyes. To see how free and unafraid they are to just be – they haven’t yet been conditioned,” she said.
“But also how frightened and overwhelmed they are… and particularly, how empathetic they are. No child is born a bigot.”
Noni Hazlehurst is only the second woman to be inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame – the other one being Ruth Cracknell in 2001 (known for her work in TV, theatre and film).
“I fear that our hearts are growing cold. The fact that I am only the second woman to be given this honour is merely a reflection of the prevailing zeitgeist.”
She called out those who questioned Waleed Aly and Lee Lin Chin’s nomination for the Gold Logie as evidence that we are all living under a ‘cloud of negativity’ that divides us against our fellow human beings. But she believes things are changing, comparing social change to a ‘glacier’ that one must either ride, or fall underneath. She ended her speech with a powerful message of hope.
“There are plenty of vigorous advocates for the cause of division, I’m a vigorous advocate for unity.”
You can watch the full speech here: