"I was taunted and teased and called names": Miranda Tapsell talks about the racism she faced growing up.

Image: Getty.

Miranda Tapsell is fast becoming one of Australia’s brightest stars. Her role in The Sapphires shot her into the spotlight, and earlier this year she won two Logie Awards for her performance in TV series Love Child — and used her acceptance speech to highlight the need for more diversity on Australian screens.

Tapsell is a brilliant role model and advocate for the Indigenous community, but unfortunately she hasn’t been immune to racism and bigotry in her life. As part of Libra’s new “I Am Fierce” campaign, the actress has spoken about ignorant attitudes she’s encountered.

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“I feel that society can be uncomfortable with extremely strong women. My first experience of that was when I was at school, and I gave a talk in front of the class about having a non-Indigenous father and an Aboriginal mother,” Tapsell recalls in the video.

“I got called a half-caste. It’s quite derogatory, so I had to correct someone in the class and say, ‘You can’t call somebody that’. It caused such a huge reaction. That was my first experience of ‘Wow, if I speak up about stuff this is what I’m going to have to come up against’.” (Post continues after gallery.)

Unfortunately, the negative response to Tapsell’s speech didn’t end when the lesson did.

“When I spoke up about my feelings, and because I did it in such a passionate manner, a lot of those boys stood up and jeered. For weeks after that I was taunted and teased and called different names,” she added in an interview with Buzzfeed News.

The Darwin-born star, who grew up in the West Arnham Land town of Jabiru, says at the time she “deeply regretted” standing up for herself because she couldn’t deal with the subsequent bullying. However, she no longer feels that way — especially as the boys who bullied her have since expressed their admiration for what she did.


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“They said to me, ‘I learnt a lot from you that day in class and that you had the courage to do that and you made me think about my attitude’. So for me it was worth it in the end, although it didn’t feel like it at the time,” she tells Buzzfeed.

In her Libra featurette, Tapsell also recalls how overwhelming it was to move to Sydney in order to study performing arts.

“I’d be on the phone crying to Mum, saying, ‘I can’t do this’. I was just a little bit lost in this big concrete jungle that was Sydney. There are all those wonderful learning curves I needed to have and they’ve shaped me into the person I am,” she says.

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“Whenever I get scared I just remind myself … remember you were once a little girl from Jabiru who wanted this, and this is what I have been dreaming of all my life, so I’m going to live my dream.”

Miranda Tapsell with her Logie Awards. (Getty)


Ultimately, Tapsell hopes to inspire young women to chase their dreams and resist the fear of failure.

"I didn't get to where I am now without going through lots of failures, and just embarrassing things as well. Because I'm constantly putting myself out there and really showing how vulnerable I can be on stage or in front of camera, it can be embarrassing," she says.

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"It's all part and parcel of life ... It's about being comfortable with that and going, 'Oh well, I made that mistake' and you grow from that."

Have you ever experienced racism? How do you deal with it?