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Podcast – Nakkiah Lui: creating TV comedy Preppers

Preppers co-creator, co-writer and star Nakkiah Lui on shooting a comedy about doomsday prepping in the midst of a pandemic.

Nakkiah Lui in Preppers.

Nakkiah Lui in Preppers

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher or Pocket Casts

The old saying goes ‘write what you know’ and for Nakkiah Lui, it’s partly how the idea for Preppers came about.

It was a genuine fascination with ‘preppers’ – people who prepare for an apocalypse – that led Lui on the path to making the new half hour comedy, which launches on ABC and ABC iview on 10 November.

“I got really into doomsday prepping, not even as a research thing,” she says on the latest episode of the Screen Australia podcast, and was bingeing shows like Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic.

“I got really into that world and I started thinking about, at that too, I was questioning this idea about ‘what is hope?’ I felt especially after my nana passed away… what is it to be hopeful, how do you have hope in the future… especially being a First Nations person and seeing my family were really directly impacted by a lot of racist policies in this country.”

A Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman, Lui began to reflect on how much hope still existed in her upbringing. “I was raised with such hope, feeling like the world was my oyster when that was not the case for so much of my family.”

That, and the interest in doomsday prepping, began to merge in her mind.

“I thought [how] in a way, First Nations people have already survived an apocalypse. Colonisation, 1788, that was like the end of the world for so many Aboriginal people. It was a complete change of life and complete decimation of so many communities and families, so I think for me, Aboriginal people are kind of like, the original doomsday preppers or apocalypse survivors,” she says. “And then I started intertwining those two themes.”

It was while throwing the idea around with her husband, editor Gabe Dowrick, that they realised there was a series in this. Not just that – they could explore these themes, and more, through a comedic lens. Together the pair would end up co-creating and co-writing Preppers, which was directed by Steven McGregor and produced by Lui’s Kiki & Kitty collaborator Sylvia Warmer of Porchlight Films, with Liz Watts executive producing through Spirit Pictures.

“[We] wonder[ed] why someone hasn’t done a show about doomsday prepping yet in terms of a fictional comedy because it’s such an interesting world. It’s so extreme,” Lui says.

In Preppers, Lui stars as Charlie, an Aboriginal woman who, after fleeing from her own personal cataclysmic event, finds herself amongst a ragtag group of doomsday ‘preppers’. The ensemble cast includes the likes of Meyne Wyatt, Aaron McGrath, Jack Charles, Eryn Jean Norvill, Ursula Yovich and Chum Ehelepola, just to name a few.

Throughout the podcast, Lui also talks about getting her start in the screen industry on Black Comedy, writing for stage vs writing for screen, how she stays on track during long development periods, and creating space for First Nations stories – something that’s particularly been on her mind since starting the Allen & Unwin publishing imprint, JOAN.

Preppers launches on ABC and ABC iview on 10 November.

Subscribe to Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher or Pocket Casts

Audio Transcript

[00:00:05] Caris Bizzaca Welcome to the Screen Australia podcast. I'm Caris Bizzaca, a journalist with Screen Australia's online publication Screen News. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the countries we meet on. Although you might be listening in from a geographically different place, we are all joining from unceded lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I'm joining from the land of the Gadigal people who are of the larger Eora nation and as a visitor on this land have immense privilege to work on this country. Always was, always will be. Now in this episode of the podcast, we are joined by screenwriter, actor, podcaster, playwright, publisher, director and more, Nakkiah Lui, who is the co-creator, co-writer and star of the new half hour comedy Preppers, which launches on ABC TV and ABC iView on Wednesday the tenth of November. In Preppers, Nakkiah plays Charlie, an Aboriginal woman who, after fleeing from her own personal cataclysmic event, finds herself amongst a ragtag group of doomsday Preppers. A little bit about Nakkiah Lui first though, a Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman, Nakkiah got her start in the screen industry on the ABC sketch series Black Comedy. She's created and starred in her own short form series Kiki and Kitty, wrote and directed the short film Brown Lips and worked as a writer on Get Krack!n and the upcoming second season of Total Control, amongst others. Outside of screen, you can hear Nakkiah on the award-winning podcasts, Pretty for An Aboriginal for BuzzFeed, and Debutant for Audible, which she is the co-host and co-creator of with Miranda Tapsell. Nakkiah has also written numerous plays, including Black Is the New White, which won the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award and the Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting. And as a young leader in the Australian Aboriginal community, you might have seen Nakkiah on Q&A, The Project or read her pieces in The Guardian or New York Times. Throughout the podcast, Nakkiah talks about how it was a call out that led to her applying for a role on Black Comedy, how she stays on track during long development periods, the process of writing Preppers with co-creator Gabe Dowrick, who also edited the series and is also her husband, and how a very real fascination with apocalypses led to the show. Nakkiah also talks about creating space for First Nations stories, something that's particularly been on her mind since starting the Allen and Unwin publishing imprint Joan. To stay up to date with the Screen Australia podcast, remember you can subscribe to places like Spotify or iTunes. Any questions, send us an email through [email protected] and for all the latest articles, funding announcements, videos and more, subscribe to Screen Australia's fortnightly eNewsletter. Now, here's Prepper's co-creator, co-writer and actor Nakkiah Lui. Can you tell me a little bit about your background in the industry and some of the projects that you've worked across?

[00:03:08] Nakkiah Lui I started off as a playwright and I had my first play on in 2013. I came up through theatre and I then got into TV writing through a sketch comedy show called Black Comedy, where they sent out a general call out. They were like, 'if you're a black fella, and you think you're funny, you should apply.' I tick both of those things (laughs). One's definitely true, the other they're still deciding. That's Aboriginal, I'm definitely Aboriginal (laughs). Then I ended up performing in that in the first season. I think that came out in 2013 maybe, or 2014, and then from there I have written on Black Comedy, Total Control, Get Krack!n. I know there's more there.

[00:04:11] Caris Bizzaca Kiki and Kitty.

[00:04:11] Nakkiah Lui Kiki and Kitty!

[00:04:11] Caris Bizzaca I heard The Great Season 2?

[00:04:13] Nakkiah Lui Yeah, I was in the writers' room for that. I am working on developing a project with HBO about an adaptation of a podcast, and mainly as a writer. I've done a little bit of directing on Black Comedy, I've directed a play called An Octoroon for Queensland Theatre Company, and I co-produced on Black Comedy as well.

[00:04:42] Caris Bizzaca You said predominantly as a writer and you have had many different roles like actor, producer, director, podcaster. You're commissioning for Allen and Unwin with your own publishing imprint, Joan. Why does 'writer' sit foremost in your mind?

[00:05:01] Nakkiah Lui All of these things always come back to the story. You're always trying to tell a story. It's about stories. I'm not very religious, the thing that I do have a lot of belief in is, as cliché as it sounds, is the power of story. I started writing at a time in my life that was a real crossroads. I had just lost my grandmother, I probably started writing when she got really ill and I was her carer. I was really unhappy at law school and I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I felt like I had very little value in the world. I didn't know how I could contribute, and I didn't know how to feel empowered. I'd probably say I'm still trying to figure out what empowerment is, but for me, being able to tell my story, being able to articulate that at the very genesis of my career. That's what I always go back to, and the biggest tool in my arsenal is this ability to be able to tell a story and I do that through writing. The other things that I do are just a variation of that or an extension or a different way to do it.

[00:06:30] Caris Bizzaca When you think about the different forms of writing, and particularly, you said you started in stage and then writing for the screen and going between, are there similarities between writing for the stage and writing for screen in your experience?

[00:06:49] Nakkiah Lui I think there's a lot of similarities. The things that change are mainly form and structure. Also, how you use big print so differently to how you do in a screenplay, to how you do in the theatre.   For me it's always 'what's the meat of the scene and what's the question of the story?' What are the themes, and who are your characters and how do they interact within the world and where you're going, and how do they get there together? Do they get that together? Those bigger questions, ultimately, I think stay the same across every medium I work in, and I work in quite a few, whether that be prose or podcasting, or audible stories or even acting to an extent. But the way in which you do that changes quite dramatically, and it changes from project to project as well. Depending on, is it a pilot, is it an outline, is it episode five in an eight-part [or] twelve-part, season long show. The way you use big print is incredibly different. In theatre, there's so much more, everything tends to be more dialogue heavy, at least for me, and you tell story through consequence in a way, like how the characters speak to each other and your story moves along as a consequence of their dialogue. It also changes on who your collaborators are, but I tend to write going into a new project, I'll write an outline. I always put down my questions that I'm doing, I use my notes, I have a note process that I do across the board in a very similar way, so in terms of that stuff, it stays the same.

[00:08:54] Caris Bizzaca You said the term big print. For anyone that isn't aware, what does big print mean?

[00:09:01] Nakkiah Lui That's a really good question. It's the general in the action in a screenplay that isn't the dialogue or the header.

[00:09:17] Caris Bizzaca With playwriting, the earlier plays that you wrote were not necessarily in the comedy genre. Some of your later work like Black is the New White, things like that. In terms of working in the comedy genre, was Black Comedy the first time that you actually worked in comedy as well?

[00:09:42] Nakkiah Lui Yes and no. I did a stand-up routine at my local RSL when I was thirteen that we recently found the footage of, which I have to say - searing genius that was not recognised at the time. (laughs) I've always used humour in all of my work, even in the more tragic ones. I've written funny short stories and essays. Humour's always been very much a part of my work because humour's just a huge part of my life. People are probably sick of hearing this, I say it all the time because I think it every single day and my nana used to say to me, 'What can you do if you can't laugh?' I think laughter is my hope and my rebellion. It's something that grounds me, so it's just a huge part of my life, period. Writing sketch for Black Comedy was my first foray into writing comedy as a genre.

[00:10:53] Caris Bizzaca [But] it was infused in your work prior to that.

[00:10:57] Nakkiah Lui Yeah, and it was a real blessing early on to do that in my career because it taught me a lot of things. It got me a foot in the door, I don't know how I would have got into the screen industry if it hadn't been for that call out. It's not an industry known for its open doors, so I don't know how I would have even entered, and it taught me a lot of really important lessons, even just in terms of format delivery, being prompt, having to learn really fast. I had to learn where jokes are and quite often, where a joke is, it's similar to when you go, 'Well, what's the story, where's the story? What question are you asking, where's the meat?' There's a similar expediency in trying to find where things sit and land. I found something where I was able to practice it all the time, by just having to write lots and lots of sketches per season. You're just constantly writing and it’s really small tasks as well, so I feel like it was a really great place to start my career.

[00:12:11] Caris Bizzaca We'll get to Preppers in just a second, but I wanted to ask before we do, you mentioned something about your notes process when you're developing an idea or writing a work, could you explain that a bit more?

[00:12:26] Nakkiah Lui I'm just like every writer; I keep too many notes, I'm really cliché, it's really embarrassing. But I think it's those little things [that] actually make a huge difference. It's maybe even just feeling safe, even just pretending like you're working. I know I like to write in Moleskines, I like the blank page, I like the A5 one. There's a certain pen that I have to write with, and quite often I go through so many, it's really bad for the environment. I've tried to go a bit greener, I've got an iPad, but it's just something about writing stuff down.

[00:13:09] Caris Bizzaca It's the texture of the page, like when people say they read a book compared to reading on a Kindle or iPad.

[00:13:17] Nakkiah Lui Totally, and I mean I'm no scientist, (laughs) but when something goes in your brain and it comes out your hand, I think you've processed it differently. I try to do this thing where I'd have a different book for each project. I have a very rough colour coding system that works, so mastering it, I've learnt to reflect, go through my notes and then jot down what's important. But I had to pitch Black is the New White, or was it Kiki and Kitty? I don't know, they all blend into one, but it's probably around 2013-2014, I had to put together a little bit of a pitch and someone sent me their pitch doc, and I sourced one on the internet, got a bunch of pitch docs. I put together a synopsis, story, theme, characters, world, outline, general notes, and then within that document, I'll have a rough document on the go, throwing in quotes, things that I relate to that. I do that really early on in my process with the idea that I'm working on, whatever the project is, because by the time I've got to that stage, and I've pitched it, I already have an idea. But what I find is when I have that pitch doc or outline document, that will quite often be used further down the track like a Bible. I'll do it for theatre, even though it's not something you usually do in theatre, but I do that because I find it's really useful in terms of when you're stuck or in your later development process, or if you have a lot of time to ruminate on things and ideas change and you want to get back to what the core of a project is. For me, that's a really good place to go back to because there will always be those core ideas, they're usually there. I find it a really good point of reference across a project. If things get a bit unwieldy, you might get lost down one path and you might need to come back or just [find] validation [of] what the project is. You might get some really crazy, bananas notes thrown at you from an exec down the line that you never saw coming, and you're like, 'Am I doing this?' 

[00:15:50] Caris Bizzaca It keeps you on track, reminds you why you started in the first place?

[00:15:55] Nakkiah Lui Totally, and I think it's just a really good way to put your thoughts down in a way that you're able to have clarity around your story and your project and be able to pitch it. I'm a chatterbox and I'm all over the place, so for me, it's such a useful tool.

[00:16:22] Caris Bizzaca Your new series is called Preppers. First of all, what is Preppers about?

[00:16:30] Nakkiah Lui Preppers is about a group of mismatched doomsday preppers. It's meant to be a First Nations doomsday prepping group, but they've allowed a few non-Aboriginal people in just to help with the funding, because "doomsday prepping isn't cheap", to quote Monty, one of our characters. They're all preparing for the end of the world in a secret camp called Eden 2, but the irony is they're the worst group of people to ever prepare for the end of the world because none of them can even agree on how the end of the world is going to happen. Our protagonist, Charlie, is an Aboriginal woman who was running away from her own personal apocalypse, and in order to survive that, she has to hunker down with this group of doomsday preppers, and in preparing for the end of the world, she finally realises that she might be able to have a future. I just did that without-- that's not even the logline. I should write that down.

[00:17:33] Caris Bizzaca Well done, I'll send you the transcript. [It's] worth saying that you also play Charlie, lead protagonist, as well as co-creating and co-writing the series. I read this story, this article, and it was back from when your play Black is the New White was about to launch at Sydney Theatre Company, so 2017, and this article in the SMH opened up with the fact that you'd been preparing for end of world scenarios and looking up various prepping YouTube videos. Were you at the time thinking about the concept as a screen idea or was it just something that you were generally interested in?

[00:18:23] Nakkiah Lui I think a bit of both. We've been working on this idea for just over four years now, maybe even a bit more than just over, maybe edging over four and a half, towards five. We've been working with commission by network for that long, so it's been a really long process. I remember that article, I don't know if I was researching for Preppers, but how we came up with the idea for it is I got really into doomsday prepping and not even as a research thing, I just got really into it. I have an anxiety disorder - millennials, don't we all, right? That impending sense of doom that keeps me awake at night and brings on the panic attacks. [To deal with that] I found this almost cathartic fascination with doomsday prepping. I got really into that show by National Geographic called Doomsday Preppers, and then there was Doomsday Bunkers. There's a whole bunch of other shows that are within that doco series, factual genre. I got really, really into that world. At that time, too, I was questioning this idea of: what is hope? After my nana passed away, I think a lot of my work around that time, and even Preppers is partly about this, [asked] what is it to be hopeful? How do you have hope in the future? Especially being a First Nations person and seeing my family, we're really directly impacted by a lot of racist policies in this country, things like having to live in mission, the Stolen Generation, that level of segregation. My mum grew up in a tent until she was, I think, twelve. They lived by the river because it wasn't acceptable for blackfellas in the town she grew into to live in town. But my grandfather had dog tags to say he was an honorary white man after going to Word War II, so they couldn't live on the mission. When my grandmother moved, my grandparents moved to St. Mary's, there were only one Aboriginal family allowed on the block. Real direct impact on their life and my upbringing, so I always wondered, what is it to have hope because I was raised with such hope, feeling like the world was my oyster when that was not the case for so much of my family. Then I was really in this doomsday prepping world - I swear this story has an end. I [was] thinking 'What are these people prepping for? Gosh, what would I do?' First Nations people have already survived an apocalypse: colonisation 1788, that was the end of the world for so many Aboriginal people. It was a complete change of life and a complete decimation of so many communities and families, so I think for me, it was like, well, Aboriginal people are the original doomsday preppers or apocalypse survivors, and I started intertwining those two things. I was thinking about that a lot, and Gabe and I were - gosh, this sounds so privileged, and at the same time, so like, Nakkiah, you're from Western Sydney - we were at a hotel bar, a swimming pool bar, on the Gold Coast having a holiday, and we were throwing ideas around over pina coladas about this, and then it was like, 'Oh, this could be a show, and I wonder why someone hasn't done a show about doomsday prepping yet,' in terms of a fictional comedy because it's such an interesting world, it's so extreme. We came up with the idea there.

[00:22:37] Caris Bizzaca Kind of wild that you had this idea for Preppers and then you shot in the midst of a pandemic.

[00:22:45] Nakkiah Lui We feel a bit guilty, to be honest. Running a show about doomsday prepping and then a pandemic hits it makes you relevant, which is a really horrible thing to say in the face of all the terrible loss and tragedy that the pandemic has brought on. Then being able to shoot, but having that little opening in between lockdowns and it was raining, we had terrible weather and it was a predominantly outdoor shoot, so I whinged a lot to Gabe and I was like 'we're cursed, someone's cursed us.' I asked my dad; have I been cursed? How [do I] get rid of curses? Then when the second lockdown hit, I was like, 'Wow, I'm a real arsehole, I should be really thankful for the fact that we even got to shoot.' If the show taught me anything [laughs], it's [that] I'm a huge arsehole.

[00:23:56] Caris Bizzaca You mentioned Gabe a couple of times, so Gabe Dowrick is a co-creator with you, a co-writer, he's also the editor, and he's also your husband. What was that process like writing a show together?

[00:24:11] Nakkiah Lui Look, it was really interesting. [laughter] We're still married and still in love, so I guess it's worked out. It was a bit of a ride and I'd do it again. We hadn't ever worked together in a writing capacity before, so I think we met doing Black Comedy. Gabe was an editor on that, I think he did all seasons but one and he he didn't do that season because he went and cut The Family Law, which [makes me] always [say] 'you love Benjamin Law more than me.' That's how we met, on the first season of that actually, that's when we first started dating. You're very familiar with each other's work like that. He's edited some shows I've acted in and edited shows that I've written on just where I'm just a writer. I was going to say I watch most of his work but I watch all of his work, he's a fantastic editor, award winning, quite renowned so he's really good at his job, and I think our careers have grown together in the last couple of years especially, as partners. One of the things in our relationship, we have a real passion over story and what we do, and [are] both film nerds, so that's definitely a part of our relationship. But this is the first time we had written together. It was really great, there were some big lessons learnt. I thought I was a really nice person to have in a room, I thought, that's why people hire me as well: I'm nice to be around and easygoing. But I'm totally not at all, the politeness is all a front. I am so mean when it comes to Gabe in terms of just being really blunt. We had, being partners, we have a shorthand and it was quite a tight operation as writers. We had a week very early on where we had four people in a room and then after that week, we had Mark O'Toole come in and do some additional writing and some story stuff with us, and a writer called Enoch who did some additional writing.

[00:26:34] Caris Bizzaca Enoch Mailangi?

[00:26:40] Nakkiah Lui Yes, once we got our final drafts of the scripts done, but it was a pretty tight operation. It was just Gabe and I really, so we would be bringing out the whiteboard a lot and just interrogating the ideas and our work-life balance became very one sided with unclear boundaries, but it was also great. Gabe's an editor, which I think a lot of editors have this, but Gabe's such a great resource with structure, really gets structure incredibly well, and I think as a writer and especially someone who came from theatre, you create a lot of story based on the consequences and how to say where are you going towards. You can get really, I don't want to say lost because I'm approaching things in a very negative way, it's all great stuff, but the minutia and the detail and character. Sometimes I have to remind myself, this is why I have that outline doc I go back to a lot, to pull yourself out of that and to look at the overall project. Gabe was really great at being able to come in with that insight, and then I'd ask him a lot of questions about that, and he's very funny. A very, very big, robust brain and really challenging as well and maybe because he's also my romantic partner, really believes in you and some of the things that we go into in Preppers. I like to think it's a very funny show. It's half hour, and in a way, it's got a sitcom vibe to it, it's very goofy, it's very silly. We then hit into some themes about colonisation, about what are the impacts and lived experience of colonisation and racism today, what is it to be a First Nations person in Australia and things like genocide and the Stolen Generation. We hit on those points and sometimes when you're going through, especially because the show took over four years, you get to that later stage where you're maybe getting notes from an executive who is from a very different background to you and you start to, at times, doubt yourself. I do doubt myself; I go between having boisterous confidence to extreme self-doubt. But you go 'Oh, is my instinct, right, and was my instinct from the beginning, and am I doing this, especially with the cultural content?' Gabe's so good at, he was just someone who [said] no, do it and push it further.

[00:29:54] Caris Bizzaca Back yourself?

[00:29:54] Nakkiah Lui Yeah, back yourself, why are you doubting yourself, and really believing in the work from some of that cultural context, from very much an outsider's perspective, but backing it one hundred and ten percent was really, really useful and invaluable to me. It's definitely brought us closer, but because we never worked together before, we [have] very different writing styles in terms of how we work. Gabe is very structured and also an editor, very timely and likes things to go according to schedule, and I'm not like that, [I'm] a bit looser, [the way] I manage my time and how I go about that, and that was really funny. We ended up being like, 'no more pulling out the whiteboard at 10pm.'

[00:30:54] Caris Bizzaca Had to set some boundaries?

[00:30:54] Nakkiah Lui Yeah, but then inevitably, we'd be out at dinner and it would go back to work. I feel very privileged to do what I get to do, and part of my process as a writer is just talking to people about my ideas a lot. I call it 'off the page dramaturgy' to make it sound more sophisticated. It's good to have a partner who that [part of you] doesn't annoy the shit out of and [they] get excited by it.

[00:31:32] Caris Bizzaca Another First Nations screenwriter, Jon Bell was on the podcast recently, and he was talking about how it can be difficult creating something that's never been done before. For example, in his case, a First Nations horror movie, because it's bringing perspective to genre, and I was wondering, do you feel that notion with stories, whether you're subverting a Rom-Com with Black is the New White or say with Preppers, do you feel like you're creating space for new First Nations stories with each of these projects?

[00:32:06] Nakkiah Lui I hope so, I really hope I am. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, which is one of the reasons why I did my [publishing] imprint Joan. What does continuing that work look like outside of just creating your own work? I'm not entirely sure, to be honest, but you want to be an engaged writer within your community. You want to hold the door open, but also create blocks in the pavement to continue the road. In saying that, I don't want to dismiss the value of what creating a work that is authentic to yourself and doing something different: that can have so much value. I'm a big believer (in) that saying, 'if you can see it, you can be it, but also, if you can hear it, you can say it.' Then hopefully the conversation changes and evolves and continues, and if you have something to say, then you want things to change, right? I'm pretty proud of my career. I started writing, as I said, at a time when I really felt like I had very little value in the world, and that was because I saw my grandmother, who to me, well she still is this beautiful spirit [that] continues to this day. This strong black matriarch who created a whole world and future for everyone around her. She continued that legacy on from her family, who continued that legacy on from their ancestors, and I think there's something really comforting in coming from such a long line of story and people really having belief in their community and what the future holds. Speaking to what Jon said, I think it can be really scary doing something new, but in a way, I don't think I'm saying anything new. My ideas and what I have to say are so much like my inheritance. To me, it's been passed down generationally, my beliefs and how I see the world is very similar to how my parents do, and it's very similar to how their parents did. I think that's something that's really used a lot as a point of division within the screen industry, which is 'Oh, but you're a different generation, so they used to do things differently in that generation', especially making allowances for work or maybe an old school old guards’ approach to things.

[00:34:43] Caris Bizzaca It's always been done that way?

[00:34:44] Nakkiah Lui Yeah, it's always been done that way or they just approach things differently. Back then, they didn't have this many Aboriginal writers to tell their own stories, there were black voices back then. These parts have been created by black people persevering, our opportunities came from other Aboriginal people creating pathways in industry. I also disagree that there is that much difference between generations, especially when used as an excuse for how narrow people can think or their resistance to how things are changing, because I know that my parents don't think, or my grandmother didn't think that differently to how I do, and I look at like my nieces and nephews and how they see the world, and they're so incredibly engaged and intelligent. We have really interesting conversations and it's not that big a divide. You're doing something new, but there's a real comfort in being like 'I'm not necessarily saying something new, just maybe saying it in a different way.'

[00:35:48] Caris Bizzaca Definitely. Lastly, we always ask an advice question. What advice would you give to any screenwriters? Or as you said, you do have a number of different hats that you wear, but any advice that you would give to someone working in the industry?

[00:36:09] Nakkiah Lui It’s a good question because I still feel like I'm still figuring stuff out every day. Waking up every day, I think 'oh my god, I hope I don't get fired. I hope no one realises I have no idea what I'm doing.'

[00:36:33] Caris Bizzaca Do still get imposter syndrome, is that what you're saying?

[00:36:36] Nakkiah Lui Yeah, you'd feel a bit weird in a way if you didn't. I'd hate to think 'Oh, well, I've got this, nothing else to learn here.' For me, making friends with other writers was invaluable. I went to a festival called Interplay where I met a bunch of other playwrights, who ended up becoming my collaborators and long-term relationships, with people who worked as dramaturgs and companies. It's an industry very much based on relationships for better or for worse, so find your peers, read scripts. I didn't have an opportunity to study writing, so a lot of my skills have come from reading scripts and being around writers who I greatly admire. Go see theatre, go see lots of theatre, even if you're interested in screenwriting, just because it's a performance art and it's so similar to screen and you get to sit there live and see how people react. Always question why you want to tell that story, why you want to do this because it's really, really hard. You've got to have that faith and that tenacity when you get "no's" because you get so many "no's" and it's very vulnerable, it's a very vulnerable career path. It's hard, even just sometimes offering up an idea in a room can feel like you're offering up a bit of yourself. If there's any way for you to try and be around people who have skill sets you admire or who you like the work that they're doing. When you're early on in your career, people let you into their rehearsal rooms. They let you into their rooms to note-take or to observe quite willingly. I think as people get a bit further on their careers, you can be a little bit protective about who you're letting into your space. But if you're someone there who is just there to observe and learn, I have noticed that people are more willing to do that and you learn a lot by watching people work and you learn so much just by being on a set or watching people in a writer's room. Any of those types of opportunities that come up, contact your local screen agencies and just do any opportunity that you can. It takes a long time to build skills and a career. It's small, it's brick-by-brick and you don't know, you change so much between jobs as well. One project I'm doing, I'm having to learn how to run a room, and thank goodness I got to be in a room with Tony McNamara and Stu[art] Page. You learn from the people around you, and then you go to your next room and you're like, 'Yep, I need to do this better.' It is constantly, constantly trying to get better at what you do.

[00:39:53] Caris Bizzaca Well, we will leave it there, but thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today and talking to us all about Preppers and your career. It's been great.

[00:40:04] Nakkiah Lui Thank you for having me and letting me talk your ear off.

[00:40:11] Caris Bizzaca That was Preppers co-creator, co-writer and actor Nakkiah Lui and remember to watch Preppers on ABC and ABC iview when it launches on the 10th of November. To stay up to date with the latest episodes of the Screen Australia podcast, remember to subscribe through places like Spotify and iTunes. And for the latest news from the local screen industry, subscribe to the Screen Australia newsletter. Thanks for listening!