New AFL TV show tackles racism head-on

Danielle McGrane
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Nelson Baker hopes his role in the new ABC TV drama The Warriors will help eradicate the every day racism he experiences as an indigenous Australian.

The show follows the stories of the players on a fictional Aussie rules team in Melbourne and Baker says he has a lot in common with his character Zane Phillips.

“I was just being me really on the shoot. That’s why we all got our parts because they said we are our characters. They said ‘you don’t have to try being the character, you are the character’,” Baker told AAP.

Zane faces an identity crisis of sorts when he meets the number one draft pick on his team and fellow indigenous player, Maki Birrawuy played by Gordon Churchill.

“Maki is a naturally talented player and he’s full black from a community who knows who he is. My character is not a naturally good player but he’s put in the hard work. But he doesn’t really know who he is, because he’s a half-caste who’s grown up in the city,” he said.

Originally from Broome, Baker studied at WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) and has now moved to Melbourne to pursue his acting career.

The Warriors is his first TV role and he’s proud to be on a show that he says tackles the issues he faces frequently as an Aboriginal man.

“I’ve gone through racism,” he said.

“Because I don’t look like an Aboriginal to most people I’d often overhear white folks talking about black fellas running them down and stuff.”

Just recently, Baker says an Uber driver recently told him: ‘you don’t look Aboriginal, you’re too good looking for an Aboriginal’.

It’s moments like these that make Baker happy to be a part of a show he hopes will help eradicate such casual racism.

“I’m really proud to be a half-caste playing a half-caste in my first role, talking about issues about my role in the real world and in the series,” he said.

*The Warriors premieres April 12 at 9:30pm (AEST) on ABC.

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