Screenwriter, Autism Advocate and Award-winning cultural critic

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Who or what did you want to be when you grew up?

A palaeontologist! That went out of the window when in the mid-’80s my family took me to see life-sized animatronic dinosaurs at Questacon science museum and I realised I was, in fact, terrified of dinosaurs.

What is your professional background?

If we’re talking strictly hours logged, I’m a freelance journalist by trade; I’ve written for a variety of publications for nearly two decades now. As far as qualifications are concerned, though, I’ve only recently obtained one! In 2017 I got my Master of Screenwriting and I now tutor in screenwriting at University of Melbourne, and am doing a PhD in screenwriting (amongst other things) at RMIT.

When do you feel the most creative or inspired?

When I’m at the mall (any mall) in Southern California.

When are you happiest?

At the Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show.

What’s the best stress relief advice you’ve ever been given?

Write down all of your negative thoughts about yourself as you have them, for about a week, and store them in a “bin” (literally, if you can get one of those cute miniature ones to put on a desk). After a week, read them aloud either to yourself or to friends; you’ll laugh like mad and won’t be able to believe you thought those things.

What is your most treasured possession?

My “I Was One Of The First People In Australia To See Jurassic Park” badge (it’s true, I was: at a screening at the dearly departed Greater Union Russell Street where people were crawling up the aisles screaming in terror).

What is the most important thing life has taught you thus far?

“Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke” - Bette Midler

What is your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in your industry?

Get a good accountant, join your union, and a really good office chair - those things (office chairs) are ugly as sin but take it from me: a chronic back injury from sitting in crap chairs is worse.

What is your big project or goal for 2019?

Surviving the PhD confirmation process!

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

My students! Every week I’m amazed by their bravery, originality, and blessed lack of jadedness.

What do you continually ask yourself?

“Why did I open this tab?”

Who do you collaborate with best?

My great friends and comrades Casey and Christos, with whom I co-present Superfluity on 3RRR FM every Tuesday night.

Who has challenged you to be better than you once were?

So many people, from therapists and mentors to friends and family, but probably my personal trainer Helen: not only has she whipped me into shape, health and strength-wise, her wisdom and kindness is profound. Every week I try to be a bit more like her.

How does courage manifest in your work?

Last year I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I’ve spent the past year allowing myself to “be myself” in my work. Happily, screenwriting and academia seems receptive to my wacky and very Autistic approach to idea generation in a way that journalism, beholden to “clicks” in the digital era, very much wasn’t.

When has mentorship played a role in your life?

Huge. I’ve been very lucky to find myself in the presence of amazing mentors at many steps along the way

What one thing do you think would improve gender equality in New Zealand?

As a screenwriter, I’m possibly biased, but I believe that greater representation both in front of and behind the screen can go a huge way to shifting societal attitudes about gender and gender diversity. The more women and gender diverse people are writing and directing films, TV, even ads, the more chance there is that--as the Geena Davis Institute puts it--if she can see it, she can be it.