Ever since she burst onto our screens in Muriel’s Wedding, Australia has treasured the talent that is Rachel Griffiths.
With a career spanning more than 20 years, Griffiths is best known for her roles in HBO’s acclaimed series Six Feet Under, and the film Hilary and Jackie, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her work has earned her a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and three Australian Film Institute Awards.
Griffiths latest role is one that’s about to have everyone talking.
The hilarious comedy (no, seriously, watch the trailer above) Little Acorns is set in a suburban childcare centre, and Griffiths plays what she describes as the “helicoptering love mum…proudly breastfeeding her children as long as she feels she wants to.” She is the mum who others find painfully intimidating; career driven, involved and with hair that puts “Hollywood to shame”.
Griffiths told Mamamia that this was a cast she was particularly excited to work with. Many of the women (Emily Taheny, Belinda McClory and Katerina Kotsonis to name a few) have known each other since they were 18, and are now trying their best to juggle "being artists, and writers, and producers, and actors, while also being mums."
Writer and director Trudy Hellier says, “We are tired of seeing women in stereotypical roles; men are having all the fun and we’re always telling them to behave. We aim to usurp these stereotypes and challenge the whole idea of what it is to be a caring female.”
And Griffiths couldn't be more on board.
As a mum of three, a boy Banjo, and two girls, Adelaide and Clementine, she said "We're being sucked into all these models about who is being a better mummy. It is so bizarre that we are competing as mums".
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Indeed, Little Acorns could not be speaking to more receptive ears. It follows the release of Bad Moms, and an entire movement of women rejecting the impossible standards placed upon mothers.
Griffiths is excited about the "rampant incoming power" of strong female characters, and the new, more nuanced depiction of female worlds. She describes film and television as having "a moment of such feminist truth", citing the likes of comedian and actress Amy Schumer.
Little Acorns explores the inner workings of childcare centers, where "adult lives continue alongside" the simple lives of toddlers. While on set, Griffiths found herself having what she describes as a "completely inappropriate" conversation with another member of the cast, while "looking out to the sea of children". She said that that moment really was "the perfect metaphor for the show".
The episodes themselves are only three to five minutes and will be broadcast exclusively online as of September 1. They are conveniently, as Griffiths notes "how much time I have as a mum".
In her own life, Griffiths has some childcare horror stories. When they were living in the States, she picked up her daughter from childcare only to find that she was severely sunburnt. She went, by her own admission, "ape shit". Griffiths' Aussie roots have made her a firm believer in the "no hat no play" mantra.
With that said, Griffiths says that the average parent probably doesn't have "a whole lot of empathy for what they [childcare workers] go through." During filming she discovered a deeper level of "respect and empathy for childcare workers. It's really hard...you study for three years and earn about $14 an hour and then are faced with these highly strung mums..." She also learnt "a great deal about the conversations that take place behind the scenes!"
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When I asked Griffiths if her new found insight ever made her consider a job in childcare, she exclaimed "YOU'RE HILARIOUS...I can barely manage my own children!" It seems that for now, she might just stick to the whole acting gig.
It is the patience of people who work with children that Griffiths is most in awe of. She says that she has "so much love and thankfulness for the incredible people who teach my children, every minute they're with them".
Hellier says that the show is full of characters who are "bold, fearless, contradictory and ridiculously funny.” Little Acorns is about the flaws, the mistakes and the (occasional) triumphs that come along with working with children. It is such an important story that we haven't heard before.
Mark it down. September 1. We can't wait.
Little Acorns will be released online, here.