Miranda Tapsell

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Miranda Tapsell
Miranda Tapsell.jpeg
Tapsell at The Jungle Book premier at Event Cinemas in Sydney, March 2016
Born (1987-12-11) 11 December 1987 (age 34)
Alma materNational Institute of Dramatic Art
  • Actress
  • writer
Years active2008–present
Spouse(s)James Colley

Miranda Tapsell (born 11 December 1987) is an Aboriginal Australian actress of both stage and screen, best known for her role as Cynthia in the Wayne Blair film The Sapphires and her 2015 performance as Martha Tennant in the Nine Network drama series Love Child. In 2016, she portrayed Fatima in the Stan series Wolf Creek.

Early life[edit]

Tapsell was born in Darwin, Northern Territory, on 11 December 1987 to Tony and Barbara Tapsell. When she was five the family moved to Jabiru in West Arnhem Land, where she grew up around Kakadu National Park.[1] In 2004, when she was 16, Tapsell won the Bell Shakespeare Company regional performance scholarship. After finishing school she moved to Sydney to study at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) from where she graduated in 2008.[2]


Tapsell has been active both on stage and screen, starting with her 2008 performance in Dallas Winmar's play Yibiyung at the Belvoir Theatre, where she had the title role.[3] In June 2010 she performed in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Old Town Hall Ruins, Darwin. Later in that year she appeared as Ngala in Kamarra Bell-Wykes' Mother's Tongue at the Yirra Yaakin Theatre in Perth, a play about a young woman's connection to her Indigenous heritage.[4] 2012 saw Tapsell as Bonita in the mini-series Mabo and then in the breakthrough role of Cynthia McRae, one of The Sapphires, Wayne Blair's film about a group of four Indigenous singers during the Vietnam War era. Tapsell topped the year off with her appearance as Teneka in the second episode of the ABC's Redfern Now.[2]

Back in the theatre in 2013, Tapsell played a dual role (as Gillyagan and Muruli) in Andrew Bovell's The Secret River at the Sydney Theatre, a performance which earned her a nomination for the Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play. In 2014 Tapsell took on the role of Elizabeth, a young Indigenous woman, for a short film called Vote Yes which looked at issues around the 1967 referendum on including Aborigines in the census. The film was screened by the Recognise campaign, the movement seeking to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution.[5] She appeared in four episodes of the ABC sketch programme Black Comedy. On the stage she played "Tiny Tim" Cratchit for a performance of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol at the Belvoir Theatre. While she was playing Tiny Tim at night, she was rehearsing for her next performance as a woman called Nona, who finds out her oldest sister is really her mother, in Louis Nowra's Radiance, also, conveniently, at the Belvoir Theatre.

Also in 2014 Tapsell became a member of the cast of the Channel 9 drama series Love Child, set in the 1960s. Her role is as an unmarried pregnant Indigenous woman, Martha Tennant, who ends up in a ward with several other unwed women in a fictitious hospital in Sydney's King's Cross at a time when it was taboo to be pregnant and not married.[6] Her performance was extremely well received, garnering two Logies in May 2015, Best New Talent and the Graham Kennedy Award For Most Outstanding Newcomer. On reception of the first she urged the relevant people in the audience to "Put more beautiful people of colour on TV and connect viewers in ways which transcend race and unite us," adding, "That's the real team Australia."[7] In 2016 she played Juliet in Justin Fleming's The Literati for Bell Shakespeare and Griffin's historic co-production of Molière's Les Femmes Savantes.

In 2017, 2018 and again in 2019 Tapsell starred as Charlotte Gibson in the Sydney Theatre Company production from playwright Nakkiah Lui, Black is the New White. Her role is a lawyer with a brilliant career who brings her non-Indigenous, unemployed experimental composer fiancé home to meet her family at Christmas.[8]

Tapsell wrote a contribution entitled "Nobody Puts Baby Spice in a Corner" for the 2018 biographical anthology Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia, edited by Anita Heiss and published by Black Inc.

In April 2020 Tapsell's memoir, Top End Girl, was published by Hachette Australia.[9]

In 2021 Tapsell was the co-host of the live television special Australia's Biggest Singalong! with Julia Zemiro.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Tapsell is a Larrakia woman[11] and lives in Melbourne with her husband, James Colley.[12] The couple have a daughter, born in December 2021.[13]



Year Title Role Notes
2012 The Sapphires Cynthia
Mabo Bonita Telemovie
2014 Vote Yes Elizabeth Short
Words with Gods Anthology film
2017 The Kindness of Strangers Woman Short
2019 Top End Wedding Lauren Co-writer and associate producer
The Wishmas Tree Kerry
2021 The Dry Rita Raco
2021 Back to the Outback Zoe voice role


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Magical Tales Princess Desdemona Episode 1.17: "Oh, Fairy Godmother!?"
2012 Redfern Now Teneka Episode: "Joyride"
Black Comedy Guest 4 episodes
2014–2017 Love Child Martha Tennant Main cast
Logie Award for Best New Talent (2015)
Logie Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer (2015)
2016 Wolf Creek Fatima Episode 1
Cleverman Lena Episode 1.1
Secret City Sasha Rose 6 episodes
2017 Newton's Law Skye Stewart Episodes 2–8
Little J & Big Cuz Little J Main cast
Get Krack!n Herself Episode 1.6. Also additional writer
2018 Squinters Miranda 2 episodes
Doctor Doctor April Series regular
No Activity Herself Episode: "The Night Before Christmas"
2019 Get Krack!n Herself Episode 2.8. Also additional writer

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref(s)
2013 Helpmann Awards Best Supporting Actress – Play The Secret River Nominated [14]
2013 Deadly Awards Female Actor of the Year N/A Nominated [15]
2015 Logie Awards Most Outstanding Newcomer Love Child Won [16]
Best New Talent Won
2016 Equity Ensemble Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble – Drama Series Nominated [17]
2019 AACTA Award Best Actress Top End Wedding Nominated [18]


  1. ^ Paul Connolly (23 December 2012). "What I know about men". Sydney Morning Herald.
  2. ^ a b "Redfern Now characters: Episode 2 – Teneka". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2012.
  3. ^ Justin Burke (1 November 2014). "Miranda Tapsell's career: from little things, big things grow". The Australian.
  4. ^ Joanna Gentilli (2 November 2010). "Theatre Review: Mother's Tongue". Yahoo News.
  5. ^ Burke, Justin (26 August 2014). "Star Miranda Tapsell recognises it's her time for change". The Australian.
  6. ^ "Miranda Tapsell – Born performer". Deadly Vibe. 24 March 2014.
  7. ^ Dias, Avani (4 May 2015). "Miranda Tapsell uses Logies speech to call for more Indigenous stories on Australian television". Australian Broadcasting corporation.
  8. ^ "Black is the New White".
  9. ^ Tapsell, Miranda (28 April 2020). Top End girl. Sydney, N.S.W. ISBN 978-0-7336-4243-2. OCLC 1125972790.
  10. ^ "Australia's Biggest Singalong! - Production credits". Programs. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Miranda Tapsell uses Logies speech to call for more Indigenous stories on Australian television – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". mobile.abc.net.au. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  12. ^ "The first photos from Australian actress Miranda Tapsell's wedding to James Colley". Mamamia. 29 December 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  13. ^ Hirini, Rangi (13 December 2021). "Miranda Tapsell shares baby joy and her GORGEOUS name". PerthNow. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  14. ^ Bennett, Sally (24 June 2013). "King Kong gatecrashes Helpmann Awards, picking up eight nominations and special 'outstanding achievement' award". Herald Sun. Herald and Weekly Times (News Corp Australia). Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  15. ^ "2013 Deadly Winners". Vibe Australia Pty Ltd. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  16. ^ Knox, David (3 May 2015). "TV Week Logie Awards 2015: winners". TV Tonight. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  17. ^ "6th Annual Equity Ensemble Awards – Voting Now Open". Equity Foundation. 30 March 2016. Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Winners & Nominees".

External links[edit]