On Sunday, June 7, actor Meyne Wyatt delivered a powerful monologue on racism in Australia, from his play City of Gold on ABC’s Q+A.
Twitter users hailed it the “best three minutes of Australian TV ever”.
Wyatt spoke of his Black identity and police brutality, while he became visibly emotional.
“I’m always going to be a black friend, aren’t I? That’s all anyone ever sees. I’m never just an actor, I’m an Indigenous actor. Hey, I love reppin’, but I don’t hear old Joe Bloggs over here being called ‘white Anglo-Saxon actor blah di blah,’” he said.
“I’m always in the black show, the black play. I’m always the angry one, the tracker, the thief. Sometimes I just want to be seen for my talent, not my skin colour, not my race. I hate being a token, box to tick, part of some ‘diversity’ angle. ‘Oh, what are you whingeing for, you’re not a real one, anyway – you’re only part.’ (Read the full transcript below).
But who is this actor that has had Australia sit up and listen?
Who is Meyne Wyatt?
In August 2014, actor Meyne Wyatt became the first Indigenous Australian to join the main cast of Neighbours in it’s then-29 year history.
Playing Nate Kinski, Wyatt debuted his role on August 13 as the nephew of Susan Kennedy’s former husband.
While Indigenous actor Tony Briggs had appeared on the show in 1987, Wyatt’s role was groundbreaking for the overwhelmingly white cast.
Wyatt was born in August 1989, in Kalgoorlie, WA.
A proud a Wongutha-Yamatji man, his mother, Sue (a painter and children’s book illustrator) is from the Wongatha group and his father Brian — a worker for the National Native Title — is from the Yamatji group.
After leaving school, the now-31-year-old completed a theatre course at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).
He then auditioned for full-time courses in both WAAPA and the National Institue of Dramatic Arts in Sydney (NIDA), where he was accepted to both.
Choosing to move to Sydney and attend NIDA, Wyatt completed his degree, graduating in 2010.
Since then, he appeared in several theatre productions in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane, even winning the Best Newcomer accolade at the 2011 Sydney Theatre Awards for his role as an Indigenous teen in Lachlan Philpott’s production of Silent Disco.
His breakout film role came a year later when he was cast as Jimmy Middleton in The Sapphires with Jessica Mauboy and also made his Bell Shakespeare debut in a production of The School for Wives.
In 2013, he played the role of Danny Coulter in a TV series based on a novel by Peter Temple of the same name, The Broken Shore and then appeared in the film adaptation of Tim Winton’s The Turning.
Wyatt also had a role in Redfern Now (2014) and received nominations for Most Outstanding Newcomer at the 2014 Logie Awards and Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama at the AACTA Awards, before joining Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes in Strangerland (released in 2015).
The actor with a slew of roles under his belt then joined the cast of Neighbours.
According to Executive Producer Jason Herbison in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, hiring an indigenous actor was “unintentional”, Wyatt was just simply best for the role.
In November 2015 to January 2016, Wyatt took a break from the soap, playing opposite Geoffrey Rush as Edmund in King Lear. During that time, his father, Brian, died from throat cancer and in an interview with The Australian, Wyat said that he found the play to be a “good distraction” from the grief.
In 2016, Wyatt completed his run on Neighbours and appeared in US series The Leftovers and Aussie show, Mystery Road.
Wyatt then wrote his first play City of Gold which was a co-production between Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre and then moved to Sydney.
In 2019, he won Best Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Mainstage Production at the Sydney Theatre Awards.
He then performed the monologue for the play on Q+A, on Sunday, June 7.
— QandA (@QandA) June 8, 2020
Read the full transcript below.
I’m always gonna be your black friend, aren’t I? That’s all anybody ever sees.
I’m never just an actor. I’m an Indigenous actor. I love reppin’, but I don’t hear old Joe Bloggs being called quite white Anglo-Saxon actor.
I’m always in the black show, the black play.
I’m always the angry one, the tracker, the drinker, the thief.
Sometimes I want to be seen for my talent, not my skin colour, not my race.
I hate being a token. Some box to tick, part of some diversity angle.
“What are you whingeing for? You’re not a real one anyway. You’re only part.”
What part, then? My foot? My arm? My leg? You’re either black or you’re not.
You want to do a DNA test? Come suck my blood.
“How are we to move forward if we dwell on the past?” That’s your privilege. You get to ask that question. Ours is we can dance and we’re good at sport.
You go to weddings, we go to funerals.
No, no, no, you’re not your ancestors. It’s not your fault you have white skin, but you do benefit from it.
You can be OK. I have to be exceptional. I mess up, I’m done. There’s no path back for me. There’s no road to redemption.
Being black and successful comes at a cost. You take a hit whether you like it or not. Because you want your blacks quiet and humble.
You can’t stand up, you have to sit down. Ask the brother-boy Adam Goodes.
A kid says some racist shit — not ignorant — racist. Calling a blackfella an ape?
C’mon man we was flora and fauna before 1967, Nah actually we didn’t even exist at all.
This was a learning moment. He taught that kid a lesson.
Didn’t like that? A black man standing up for himself? Nah, they didn’t like that.
“Shut up, boy, you stay in your lane. Any time you touch a ball, we’re gonna boo your arse.”
So he showed them a scary black, throwing imaginary spears and shit.
Did they like that? They didn’t like that. Every arena and stadium booed him.
“It’s because of the way the flog plays football.” Bullshit. No-one booed him the way they booed him until he stood up and said something about race.
The second he stood up, everybody came out of the woodworks to give him shit. And he’s supposed to sit there and take it? I’ll tell you right now, Adam Goodes has taken it, his whole life he’s taken it. I’ve taken it.
No matter what, no matter how big, how small, I’ll get some racist shit on a weekly basis and I’ll take it.
It used to be in your face, “Ya boong, ya black dog, coon”, kind of shit.
“I’m gonna chase ya down the ditch with my baseball bat”, skinhead shit when I was 14 years old.
“Nah, we’re progressive, now, we’ll give you the small, subtle shit.” The shit that’s always been there. Not the obvious, in-your-face shit. It’s the “we can’t be seen to be racist” kind of shit.
Security guard following me around the store, asking to search my bag.
Walking up to the counter first being served, second or third or last kind of shit.
Or hailing down a cab and watching it slow down to look at my face and then drive off. More than once. More than twice. More than once-twice on any one occasion — yeah, that shit, I’ll get weekly.
Sometimes I’ll get days in a row if I’m really lucky.
And that’s the kind of shit I let them think they’re getting away with.
To be honest, I can’t be bothered. I can’t be bothered teaching their ignorant arses on a daily basis. I don’t have the energy or the enthusiasm.
It’s exhausting, and I like living my life.
But on occasion, when you caught me on a bad day where I don’t feel like taking it, I’ll give you that angry black you’ve been asking for and I’ll tear you a new asshole.
Not because of that one time, because of my whole life.
At least Adam danced and they still pissed and moaned. But it’s not about that one time, it’s about all those times.
And seeing us as animals, that shit needs to stop.
Black deaths in custody, that shit needs to stop.
I don’t want to be what you want me to be. I want to be what I want to be.
Never trade your authenticity for approval.
Be crazy, take a risk, be different, offend your family.
Call them out.
Silence is violence. Complacency is complicity.
I don’t want to be quiet. I don’t want to be humble. I don’t want to sit down.