interview YOUNG IMPRESSIONS Acclaimed actor and disability advocate Kiruna Stamell has faced discrimination all her life. But her determination to be a performer has never wavered, and she has overcome hurdles with dignity and grace. Having made her professional acting debut in Baz Luhrmann’s 1999 film Moulin Rouge, she recently joined ABC TV’s children’s show Play School as a presenter. She shares her journey with Link. K iruna Stamell has worked internationally as an actor different, like I did, is sitting down and dancer in theatre, film right now watching an episode. felt her body was judged by strangers “as not worthy”. “When I was a little girl wanting and television for nearly 20 years, Maybe their parent, worried to dance at age three, it took another but being named as a presenter on about how their child might fit in, five years to find a dance teacher who ABC TV’s Play School is her biggest might find relief in our example. would truly give me their time and highlight yet. And all the children who already energy and accept me as a proper feel included and catered for, student. My life is peppered with this genuinely changes and influences its realise it is ordinary for diversity kind of rejection,” she said. audience in a positive way,” she said. to be present and represented. “Play School is a piece of art that “For kids to see themselves “This feels like the most profound “My sisters can’t believe I kept going. They have dwarfism too, reflected on screen is very important. thing I could do as an actor. Create but hate the thought of being an In this context, the normalisation of the art that I, my sisters, my family actor and have strong memories difference, simply by including the and my friends, would have been of being tormented on the streets presence of diverse bodies, will be delighted to see.” because of tropes and stereotypes imprinted on the hearts of our young audience. 20 “Maybe a child who feels interview Growing up in Sydney, Kiruna – a person of short stature – created by other actors with dwarfism,” she said.