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Australian soap 'Neighbours' casts first aboriginal actor

By Simon Crompton     Jul 24, 2014 in Entertainment
For the first time since airing, the Australian soap "Neighbours" will be casting an Aboriginal actor. He'll be playing a lead role as Nate Kinski, making his debut on 13 August.
The episode featuring Meyne Wyatt, a young 24 years of age, will air in the UK on 27 August on Channel 5.
Indigenous actors have previously been featured on the soap, but not in a lead role.
The storyline of the 29-year-old soap is based on a fictional Melbourne suburb, and has faced criticism for not reflecting the reality of this area's prevalent ethnic diversity.
Tony Briggs was the first Aboriginal actor on the show, appearing in the late 1980s.
In 2012, the show featured the Kapoors, a South Asian family who moved onto Ramsay Street. Within one year's time, they were written off.
"It was more of a shock to us knowing that it wasn't just one multicultural actor who was being written out, it was every single multicultural full-time actor on the show," actor Sachin Joab told Digital Spy last year. He played Ajay Kapoor on the soap.
"All four of us were written out in the first year of our full-time contracts, which felt like a massive step backwards in terms of cultural diversity on the show.
"Australia is stuck in some sort of time capsule... For some reason when it's fiction over here, the industry chooses to exclude non-whites and include whites only. It's very unrealistic given that Australia is a very multicultural country," he added.
Neighbours' producer Jason Herbison maintains: "While cultural diversity is definitely important, in cases where we don't need a specific ethnic background, our brief to agents is to put forward their best people and that was the case for this character."
Wyatt was born in western Australia in a town called Kalgoorlie and attended boarding school in Perth, where his love for acting unfolded.
In 2011, he was named best newcomer at the Sydney Theatre Awards, after graduating from Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA). His role in neightbours will firmly establish him as a celebrity in the country. That could make him a lucrative prospective for celebrity speaking engagements.
He also just completed a film starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Guy Pearce called Strangerland, to be released in 2015.
Nate's connection to Ramsay Street's old-timers Susan and Karl Kennedy? Nate's uncle was Susan's former husband.
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