Interview with Stacey Copas about her latest film and diversity.

 

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How did your acting career begin?

I’m currently in the midst of my first acting gig – a totally newbie to the world of acting. I’m playing the role of Sarah in the feature film “The Casting Game”. I was initially approached to consider the role via a LinkedIn message which was totally unexpected.

Who were your role models growing up?

As a young person I was mostly drawn to athletes and musicians – neither of which I actually aspired to be. There certainly weren’t any diverse role models who represented my own diversity in any area of public life I was aware of.

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Do you think there are enough diverse representations on TV / Film?

There is a lack of diversity in TV and film. Who we see on screens does not represent who we see in the community in our daily life. I feel having roles written that are specifically for diverse characters will help to improve this. Also having viewers support TV and film with diverse characters/casting and demand more diversity will help.

What are you currently working on?

Currently preparing for the feature film “The Casting Game” in which I play the lead role of Sarah. It is exciting to be part of a project that has a very diverse cast and crew. As a person who uses a wheelchair it is fabulous to be cast in the role as the majority of characters with disability in TV and film are played by actors without disability.

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What more do you want to achieve in your career?

Being such early days, I’m looking forward to exploring a variety of roles that will challenge me and tell great stories.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time and why?

In 10 years time I would like to be continuing to stretch my comfort zones in all areas of life. By being the best person, speaker, athlete – and actor I can be I hope to inspire others to aim higher and dream bigger and to be the person with a disability with a strong public profile who can be the role model that I lacked as a young person.

Interview with Aussie actor & Bollywood star Nicholas Brown

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Nicholas Brown is an Australian actor, singer, songwriter, and screenwriter. He grew up in the Western Sydney suburb of Greysteins. Nicholas attended Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in years 11 and 12 as an auditioned drama student and is an acting graduate from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art.

Qu.1. What made you want to be in the acting industry?

Music was the catalyst without a doubt. I was a child singer and did a lot of musicals when I was young. I sang in a professional boys choir and got a taste for showbiz through that. We did lots of gigs around Sydney and recorded albums with several singers. Through song lyrics I became interested in acting. I always loved drama classes when I was young but the entry point was definitely through musicals. My dad hired a video camera back in the eighties to film one of my school musicals  and we were able to have it in the house for a few days after. At seven, I had planned a film shoot with the kids up the road and I was going to use the hired video camera to direct and act in it. That’s when I first became interested in film making.
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Qu.2. Where are you based now and what are you working on?
I’m based in Sydney after a good nine years going back and forth between Mumbai and Los Angeles. Right now I’m in rehearsals for my self penned play Lighten Up for Griffin Independant. I’ve just finished shooting a feature in Arnhem Land called Myth which is an art house road trip film engaging with the Indigenous community in remote Northern Territory. This year I’ve also shot two Indian feature films. One Bollywood horror film called Prattichhaya  and the other a spy thriller called Sedition. Both will be released next year. I’m feeling very grateful as it’s been a good year.
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Qu.3. What is your favourite role in your career & why?
Sedition is the film that I just shot in the Himalayas. The character’s name is Shiva. It was by far the most challenging role I’ve played. In Australian film and TV I’m often a supporting role so it was refreshing to play a lead. It was extremely psychologically and physically challenging so in that sense it was my favourite. The experience was rather harrowing but in hindsight I think it’s my favourite role so far for those reasons. Other favourite roles would have to be Jesus in the Indian Jesus Christ Superstar, Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, Tony in the Bollywood film Kites and Sachin in Network Ten’s The Cooks.
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Qu.4. Who were your role models growing up and why?
In Australia there were no diverse actors on TV. My role models were all Caucasian actors. I didn’t actually realise I was ‘ethnic’ until I was older. A lot of my identity issues would have been dealt with in an easier way if I’d grown up looking up to other non Caucasian actors. If only I grew up watching Bollywood. That all came later.  In my early twenties Ben Kingsley became a huge role model. I remember feeling very inspired by Jay L’aagalia on Water Rats and by Deborah Mailman on Secret Life Of Us.
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Qu.5
 What do you think about colourblind casting in Australia? Do you think we’re doing enough?
We’ve been lagging behind for years. It’s something that has left me exhausted, frustrated but still hopeful. It’s a hot topic now and I’ve been vocal about it for sixteen years. I just get on with things these days. I’ve been slowly chipping away, creating my own work when doors were closed. Moving to India was one of the best decisions I’d ever made. If Australia didn’t have place for a brown actor then I would go somewhere that did. Things definitely are getting better and that makes me very happy. I’m all for quotas. I know it’s a controversial subject and that people argue that the best person for the job should get the job but in an industry saturated by Caucasians actors – all of those people seen as the best are white and have reached that point because of the way the industry once was. To create a diverse industry in the future I think we need quotas to get new diverse actors (who’ve been devoid of opportunity) trained and experienced so they can be the ‘best.’ Let’s reach a state of equality, then scrap the quotas, then the best person for the job can get the job.
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Nicholas Brown will be starring in Lighten Up which will be performed at Griffin Theatre. A play produced by Bali Padda and written by Nicholas Brown and Sam McCool.
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Crowd funding Pozible campaign for Lighten Up https://pozible.com/project/lighten-up
Crowd funding ends 4th November 2016.
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Director & Dramaturge

Shane Anthony

Cast

Katie Beckett, Nicholas Brown, Vivienne Garrett, Julie Goss, Sam McCool, Bishanyia Vincent

Producer Bali Padda | Stage Manager Lauren Tulloh

Set & Costume Design Tobhiyah Stone Feller | Lighting Design Christopher Page

Sound Design & Composer | Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers

Written by Australia’s own Bollywood leading man, Nicholas Brown and stand-up comedy star, Sam McCool, Lighten Up is a cross-cultural romantic comedy about racism and triumphantly owning your identity… and bleaching your bits!

Lighten Up is a laugh-out-loud comedy that follows John Green, an Indian-Australian man living in Western Sydney. John, an actor, dreams of being cast in his favourite soap, ‘Bondi Parade’ where blonde-haired, blue-eyed people abound. The problem for John? His skin is more brown than white, his eyes more brown than blue, his hair more brown than blonde – in fact, he’s just entirely too brown. Meanwhile John’s overbearing, skin-bleaching mother Bronwyn has high hopes for him to procreate with a white Australian woman and so cleanse the family of any further ‘ethnicity’ in their bloodline. However, Bronwyn’s dreams are shattered when John falls in love with a beautiful Indigenous woman named Sandy. Despite everything and everyone in his way, John is determined to be recognised as ‘true blue’… or whatever colour it is that Australians are supposed to be!

In Sydney, there is a large amount of ‘white’ theatre and a welcomed rise in Indigenous theatre, however the mainstream theatre landscape seems somewhat devoid of the cultural melting pot – the in-between of mixed races and cultures that typifies the backgrounds of many Australians. With so many of us from mixed and migrant backgrounds, it is from these communities that many of our stories will spring. Lighten Up is the first play by an Indian-Australian creator about the Indian-Australian community staged at a professional theatre company in Sydney.

For creator Nicholas Brown, an Indian-Australian NIDA-trained actor who has gone on to great success in Bollywood, starring in numerous films including the blockbuster Kites opposite Hrithik Roshan and smash-hit Love You To Death, the idea for Lighten Up first came 11 years ago. Initially a film script, Lighten Up was a reaction to Brown’s own experiences as a mixed-race actor in the casting arena in Australia. Of this time Brown says:

“After graduating from NIDA in 2000 it became very clear to me that I was treated very differently because of my skin colour and cultural background. At that time there was so much systemic racism in the entertainment industry. Writing about it was therapeutic. I also wanted to write a story about being stuck in between two different cultures, about being mixed race and the complications that go with that.”

Brown finally embraced his heritage and moved to India where his career soared, but he also took note of the fact that race and appearance in India seemed equally as skewed as it was in Australia – the most popular cosmetic product in India being a skin-lightening lotion. Brown recognised that there was a cross-cultural story in all this hypocrisy of human nature and so turned his attentions back to his script for Lighten Up. Brown contacted comedian Sam McCool after seeing some of his hilarious and even-handed material that focussed on race. McCool jumped at the chance to work with Brown on a new theatrical version of Lighten Up. The new script was put into development with Sydney Theatre Company for their Rough Drafts program in 2015 and caught the eye of Bali Padda, actor, producer and Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee who decided that he wanted to produce the show for Griffin Independent 2016.

Lighten Up is a very clever and very funny show that tackles some very touchy subjects and treats them with both dignity and humour to highlight the multicultural, ‘real’ Australia that we see out on the streets and in our neighbourhoods. Lighten Up is a play that shines a light on human prejudices, understanding of cultural identity and what we can all learn from one another if we could all just lighten up a bit!

LIGHTEN UP

SBW Stables Theatre 10 Nimrod St, Kings Cross

Season:                         30th November – 17th December 2016

Previews:                        7pm Wednesday 30th November, Thursday 1st December

Opening Night:                        7pm Friday 2nd December

Performances:                        7pm Monday – Saturday. Matinees: Saturday 17th December 2pm

Tickets:                                    $38 Full | $30 Concession, Seniors, Groups 8+, Previews, Under 35s. | $20 Monday Rush Booking fees apply

Ages:                                    15 years +

Bookings:                         www.griffintheatre.com.au or 02 9361 3817

Photos courtesy of Nicholas Brown and Griffin Theatre.

Creative Halloween Ideas for Kids

Halloween is coming up on October 31st, 2016. Here are some fun craft and foodie ideas for children with The Wong Side of Life!

 HALLOWEEN CRAFT IDEAS

halloween-masks

Halloween hand masks

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Paper pumpkin (lantern style)

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Feet print ghosts.

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Hand X-ray using cotton buds & white paint

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Pumpkin style lanterns

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Cotton bud skeleton

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Spider web using pop sticks and wool (black or white)

HALLOWEEN FOODIE TREATS

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IMAGE: @AWEBB8 ON INSTAGRAM

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IMAGE: @SOUTHPAWSTUDIOS ON INSTAGRAM

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IMAGE: @STEVENSGIRLXOXO ON INSTAGRAM

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IMAGE: @BDALB ON INSTAGRAM

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IMAGE: MEAGHAN MOUNTFORD THE DECORATED COOKIE

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IMAGE: @FIVEHEARTHOME ON INSTAGRAM

 

 

Interview with Takaya Honda (The Family Law/ Play School) and now Neighbours!

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Takaya Honda is an Australian stage and screen actor. He’s known for his role as Klaus Thomson in the 2016 comedy TV series, The Family Law , Play School and now Neighbours.

He was born in Canberra, but moved to Sydney at a young age and attended Sydney school Barker College graduating in 2005. He then attended the College Of Fine Arts (UNSW) in 2006 studying a Bachelor of Digital Media before transferring to the University of Technology Sydney in 2007 to study a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (MediaArts and Production) which he graduated from on the 29th April 2011.

JOY: Congratulations on landing a regular role for Neighbours. Please tell us briefly about the whole casting process.

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TAKAYA: The audition process began with a self test. I had originally been sent the sides for the role of my twin, Leo but was able to get my hands on the sides for David from a friend, filmed both and sent them through to casting. About two weeks after that I got a call back and had to fly down to Melbourne. For the call back I had to prepare for both roles, so had to know both scenes and they also sent a scene through between the two brothers and I had to learn both roles in that as well. The callback was with about 7 others, all of varying Asian mixes, we were called in at different points to either play the scenes either with the actors playing the roles opposite (in this case Zoe Cramond and Matt Wilson) or one of the other auditionees and we were at the studios for about 4-5 hours. About two weeks after that I had to fly back down to Melbourne again for another callback. This time we had to have all three previous scenes ready, as well as three new ones, two with another character in the show (who I don’t think I can name) and another between the two brothers, again learning both sides of the scenes. This call back had us down to the ‘final’ four. It was another lengthy audition lasting a few hours and with a lot of chop and changing between different combinations of people. In this callback we were fortunate to be able to run the scenes with the current cast members prior to going into the room, which was a huge help. After that callback it took around 2-3 weeks before I got the call from my agent saying I had gotten the role of David.
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JOY: Would you say Neighbours is your breakthrough role?
TAKAYA: It’s hard to say what my breakthrough role is, whether I’ve had it or even whether Neighbours is (will be) that. I feel it is something for others to judge. However I have been awarded some amazing experiences, from my first role (and audition) with A Gurls Wurld through to The Family Law, My Great Big Adventure, Play School and now Neighbours. To a degree I feel it’s hard for those of diverse backgrounds to have breakthrough roles in the same way as our caucasian acting brethren. I feel that the opportunities I have had would have opened more doors to a caucasian actor than have been for me. But, I must be clear in saying that I am truly very grateful for these opportunities.
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JOY: What made you want to get into the film/TV industry?

TAKAYA: Growing up I kinda wanted to do everything. I wanted to be the doctor, the lawyer and the fighter pilot and I came to realise that acting would allow me to play all of those things and more! I’ve also always had a passion for the visual – ever since I got my hands on a camera I have not been able to help myself but to try to capture the things I see around me.

JOY: How did you get started in your career?
TAKAYA: I had some fantastically supportive teachers at High School (Barker College), namely Damien Ryan and Terry Karabelas who really gave me an understanding of what Acting is and the reality of what a career in acting can be. Damien then invited me to perform with Sport For Jove Theatre Company where I have performed in a bunch of Shakespeare plays which lead to getting representation and the slog of years of working odd jobs with a peppering of Acting gigs. I’ve been a videographer/editor, photographer, light and sound rigging crew, cinema usher, web administrator, promotional model, casting assistant and the classic actor job – a bartender. I have done my best to keep my work as relevant as I could to the industry and am cherishing the time I am given now to be working as an actor full-time.
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JOY: Do you think there’s a positive change in the TV/Film industries for more diversity?
TAKAYA: I think there is, the efforts that Neighbours are making are very positive and I do believe they are trying to do it the right way. With our characters, rather than be the two asian guys moving into Erinsborough, we are two Australians who have Japanese heritage and our storylines are like any other characters on the show, not ethnically specific, which is quite refreshing. We do not feel any pressure to be representatives for Japan or the immigrant experience – we just get to play within the world of our characters, which is rich with ‘Neighbours’ drama. The Family Law is another great example of a positive move within the industry and I hope that there are more opportunities like these ahead across the full gamut of Australian media.
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JOY: Who inspires you in the industry?
TAKAYA: Those who inspire me in the industry are those who give back to it, and the broader community. Those who use the platform of celebrity to increase the amount of joy in the world are really who I look up to. In terms of acting I could rattle off the usual suspects but to me the likes of Miranda Tapsell as seemingly the industries voice of diversity, Charlotte Nicdao for being a friend who is so incredible at articulating her wisdom not just to me but the broader public (even in the face of denigrating criticism), Waleed Aly for the reasoning he brings to arguments and when thinking towards the international industry, Seth and Lauren Rogen for their work on Alzheimer’s, Aziz Ansari for so cleverly integrating the struggle of diverse actors into ‘Master of None’ – I could go on, but these humans who have taken the gift of popularity and used it for something outside of themselves, and who work towards bettering us as a whole. These people inspire me.
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JOY: What do you want to achieve in the future?
TAKAYA: Everything. haha. I don’t know – it is so hard in this industry to predict or dictate your own career that for me I like to provide myself with options and be happy with whatever path appears to me. Even just a couple of weeks before auditioning for Neighbours I wouldn’t have thought that it would have been a part of my journey. So, I like to stay open and positive because you just never know.

Carnival of the Bold (upcoming Vivid Ideas Sydney event)

Carnival of the Bold, an arts for social change event, highlights international political cartoonist Zunar and Sydney Peace Prize 2015 Winner, George Gittoes (Filmmaker & Visual Artist) as part of Vivid Sydney 2016.

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Carnival of the Bold is back once again for Vivid Ideas, part of Vivid Sydney 2016, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. It aims to be an enabling force for social change – calling on artists to take leadership and for everyone to participate and live with greater humanity. It celebrates artists who have used their art to enrich our cultural diverse identity, explore shared values, spark imagination and empower communities. Through Carnival of the Bold, it aspires to find new ways, new ideas and new narratives that will shape our world and future.


MC Trey: Hip Hop Artist & Social Activist

George Gittoes: Visual Artist & Filmmaker                                                                                   Zunar: Malaysian Cartoonist
Bindi Cole Chocka: Artist, Writer & Curator
Abdul Abdullah: Visual Artist & Radio Host
Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa: Spoken Word Artist

In 2011 and 2015, Human Rights Watch honored Zunar with its Hellman/Hammett Award. Zunar is the first full-time cartoonist to receive CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award. To Zunar, cartooning is not a gift but a responsibility. Zunar is now facing 9 charges under the Sedition Act which carries a maximum penalty of 43 years jail term.

Gittoes’ work has consistently expressed his social, political and humanitarian concern over injustice and conflict. George has captured conflicts around the world for the past 45 years and has mentored kids in Afghanistan since 2007. Among many prizes, Gittoes has twice been awarded the Blake Prize for Religious Art and in 2014, awarded the Sydney Peace Prize.

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Other artists presenting and performing on the night include MC Trey, an Australian Fijian hip hop artist, Bindi Cole Chocka, an Indigenous visual artist and curator, Abdul Abdullah, an up and coming visual artist, and Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, a Spoken Word artist who was recently featured in Australia’s Got Talent. A huge success at the Museum of Contemporary Art during VIVID 2015 last year, Carnival of the Bold promises yet another highly engaging and provoking night, this time at the Seymour Center, one of the arts most loved venues.

Social entrepreneurs, Kevin Bathman and Zara Choy have long felt that the arts holds an untapped power to strongly influence the world. Carnival of the Bold aims to inspire and awaken greater public consciousness to create deeper engagement with social causes, in alternative and more easily accessible ways – via the arts. Carnival for the Bold is interdisciplinary and inclusive of all artists such as theatre, music, film, dance, street performance and visual arts.

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“Carnival of the Bold is first and foremost a spirit or philosophy that the arts can be a powerful enabling force for social change. It calls on artists to take leadership. And it calls on the world to participate”, says Kevin Bathman, who also co-founded Coalition of Mischief, a social enterprise providing community engagement campaigns for social, humanitarian, cultural and environmental causes.

Zara Choy explained that, “Artists bring interesting and unique perspectives to the mix, and engage audiences in new and different ways. Through Carnival of the Bold, together — whether an individual, not-for-profit, government or conscious business — we can find new ideas and new narratives that will shape our world and future.”

Celebrating Innovation and Imagination

Vivid Sydney is a festival of light, music and ideas – the largest of its kind in the world. From May 27 to June 18, 2016, the event will transform the Harbour City into a colourful creative canvas. Now in its eighth year, Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, and features large-scale light installations and projections (Vivid Light); music performances and collaborations (Vivid Music including Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House); and creative ideas, discussion and debate (Vivid Ideas); all celebrating Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia-Pacific region. For more information visit vividsydney.com

Tickets are on sale for $25 at http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/carnival-of-the-bold/

VIEW THE PROMO VIDEO

Carnival 1

For further information and interview requests, please contact:

Kevin Bathman or Zara Choy

0404 962 992 (Kevin), 0402 883 929 (Zara)

http://www.carnivalofthebold.com

kevin@carnivalofthebold.com

zara@carnivalofthebold.com

Creative terrariums – by Ikigai

Two Australian Born Chinese women – Kim and Beryl started creating terrariums as a hobby, which has now turned into a passionate successful growing business! I had the pleasure of interviewing them about their creative terrarium business.

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Joy: Where did the name come from?

Kim: The name Ikigai Australia comes from a Japanese concept ‘the reason of being’ and it is believed that everyone has ‘their Ikigai’. It is the idea of doing something you love; doing something you are good at, something, which the world needs, and something you can be paid for. We personally fell in love with the word and the concept when we came across it, and we feel that our Ikigai as such is to share our joy of our living products and designs with others.

Joy: What’s your background?

Kim: We’re both ABCs – Australian Born Chinese and we both did unrelated university degrees (Engineering and Audiology!).

Beryl: Ikigai Australia gives us the opportunity to be able to release our inner creativity, which we cannot otherwise express in our day jobs, and we love every moment of it!

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Joy: What made you want to start your business together?

Beryl: Kimberley had been making terrariums for some years now, and had been giving them to friends and family as gifts for some time. I have always admired her creations and how she could create a whole mini world within a glass container, so in the last year I started joining her in her creations, thus fuelling our passion and drive to something we can share with everyone.

Joy: How did you two meet and start up a business together?

Beryl: We’ve been best friends since high school and thought it would be an amazing journey to undertake this hobby and business together.

Joy: What gives you joy in your life?

Beryl: We love spending time with our families, friends and meeting new friends, as well as exploring new places and expanding our food adventures!

Joy: What do you do each day to start your creative flow & inspiration?

Beryl: We try to appreciate something every day – whether it’s noticing a new succulent growing in the backyard or how cute an elderly couple is when they’re sitting on a bench together, and then tying some of those things into our creations.

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Joy: What is your dream goal?

Kim: To be able to expand our current Ikigai Australia range of living creations and prints, and to be able to incorporate it as part of a cafe concept, which gives back to the community.

Joy: Where do you see yourselves in 10 years time?

Beryl:  We hope to be able to establish our terrarium café and at the same time be able to maintain a good family work life balance.

Joy: What advice do you give up and coming women in business (tips?)

Beryl: Just do it! Plan of course, but eventually you need to just take the leap of faith in knowing that while there is always the possibility of failure, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Being passionate about what you do is also essential, as the first few months and perhaps years will be difficult, and it will be your passion in your products and your business that will pull you through!

For more information check out their website http://www.ikigaiaustralia.com

 

 

Christmas joy 2015 (plus foodies & creative ideas)

Christmas is coming up shortly and it’s that time of the year where I reflect the year – 2015

Every year I write a list of things I’m grateful for.

Family and Friends – during the good times and the bad times, you always know who your true friends are for the most challenging times of your life. My late mother always said, “There’s always someone in the world worse off than you, so don’t feel sorry for yourself.”

 

puppets  kids

I’m proud that I’ve been able to bring The Wong Side of Life’s Kindness is for Free into schools – an anti-racism & and anti-bullying initiative. We’ve been able to add role playing (drama) by using my puppets so children experience what it’s like to be “the bully” and “the bullied,” as well as making popsicle puppets as part of a creative craft activity.

 

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We also had a great Joy House Film Festival year, with the most entries received and audience thus far. I look forward to spread the joy each year by showcasing emerging filmmakers’ short film and giving prizes for not only best film, but also best youth and diversity short film. This is proudly supported by MEAA’s Diversity Committee. It’s a free yearly public event. Thank you to our sponsors – Media Super, Hoyts and Bendigo Bank (Willoughby North).

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I love giving talks and was lucky to do so for Laneway Learning this year – a great crowd and AAFFN panel in Melbourne.

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Christmas is also a difficult time for people, especially those in hospital. Every year I like to donate my Fairy Joy books to my local children’s hospital. To be able to give is most rewarding feeling.

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I hope you’ll be able to pay it forward, give joy, be loyal to your family & friends. Being grateful, ethical and giving is good for the soul – it’s a way of living a joyful life!

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Blessings to you and may 2016 be awesome for all.

Here are some creative foodies, craft & art ideas you can make and share for Christmas. Spread the joy!

* CREATIVE FOODIES IDEAS *

straw

Found on welke.nl

 

riley

 

http://www.rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com

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 blogs.lasoo.com.au

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lovethispic.com

CREATIVE CHRISTMAS CRAFT IDEAS

Christmas tree hands – I did this in my creative lesson with the school kids- they loved it!

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Christmas tree reindeer made from pegs – made by my next door neighbour’s son.

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Reindeer egg cartoon head

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Found on craftymorning.com

Thumb print reindeers

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Found on flickr.com

 

CREDITS:

Moje Wypieki, indulgy.com, http://www.lovethispic.com/image/48714/diy-food-christmas-trees,

chickabug.com, http://rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com.au/ ,  Newfoundland Memories Of Home’s Page ,

http://www.lovethispic.com/image/42356/christmas-santa-strawberries, http://blogs.lasoo.com.au/tag/christmas-

tree/, http://www.etsy.com/, http://craftori.com/, http://etsylush.com/, https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-

a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/227961_429493270441099_640727145_n.jpg,