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Deborah Mailman
, 1999

by Evert Ploeg

oil on jute (167.0 x 137.0 cm)

Deborah Mailman (b. 1972), actor, is the daughter of Maori and Aboriginal parents who met when her father was touring on the rodeo circuit. Having grown up in Mount Isa, in her early twenties Mailman co-devised and appeared in the one-woman stage show Seven Stages of Grieving, which was subsequently staged in London. In 1998, for her performance in the film Radiance, she became the first Aboriginal woman to win the Best Actress Award at the Australian Film Industry (AFI) Awards; five years later she was named the NAIDOC Person of the Year. In 2012, when the AFI awards had become the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, she won the Best Lead Actress award for her role in the film The Sapphires (2011). On stage she has appeared in diverse productions including Shakespeare plays and the hit Small Poppies (2001); she was named a member of the Sydney Theatre Company’s inaugural Actors’ Company in 2005. She earned great popularity as a presenter on Playschool from 1998 to 2001; her subsequent television credits include The Secret Life of Us (2001–06); Going Bush (2006); Offspring (2010-present); Redfern Now (2011). For Mabo (2012), she won the Most Outstanding Actress Award at the 2013 Logies; she won the same award for Redfern Now: Promise Me (2015) in 2016. Mailman’s films include Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), The Book of Revelation (2006), Lucky Miles (2007) and Bran Nue Day (2009).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2000
Accession number: 2000.4