Shari Sebbens, 33, is one of the stars of new Australian drama The Heights (double episodes air Fridays at 8.30pm; ABC, with the first 16 available now on iView). Watch the trailer below.
What appealed to you about The Heights?
It was the inclusivity of the cast – it felt like a community where everyone was included, and that was really exciting to me.
How would you sum up your character?
Leonie is a successful, driven lawyer who prides herself on being able to keep her family really well functioning. Even though she’s split up with her ex-husband, who’s played by Marcus Graham, she’s the glue for her family.
The show focuses on a tight-knit community. Have you experienced that before?
For sure. I grew up in Darwin and Nhulunbuy, which is a town of about 2000. And coming from a big Aboriginal family in Darwin and in Broome, where my mum is from, everybody knows your business in those towns and, because you’re black, everybody’s going to tell your mum.
The show’s half-hour serial format is familiar, but how is The Heights different from similar shows?
It’s a true portrayal of Australia today. The amount of times I’ve gone overseas and had people say, “Oh, but you’re not blonde, you’re not tanned. There’s Aboriginal people in Australia?”
In recent weeks, racism has been a discussion point on Australian TV. What part does The Heights play in addressing that issue?
A show like The Heights reminds people that Aboriginal people don’t exist solely in [remote] communities. We do exist in your city, in the building or house next to you, and we are complex human beings and hurt by words, and we belong to a society and want to be included in society. When people throw us under one umbrella, it does a disservice to us and to everyone in Australia.