Anna – actress, a voice over artist and an Auslan interpreter. A wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend.
(Interview and photography by Natalie Grono)
AGE: 55years old
STAR SIGN: Libra (sun and moon sign).
WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS AND INSPIRATIONS?
I am a communicator, an empathiser and I feel things deeply. There is nothing I love more than sitting and talking about life and what it means; death and what it means; how we can do it all better, see every obstacle as an opportunity for growth. I think it was Eric Olthwaite (Michael Palin) in Ripping Yarns who said ‘My mother’s black pudding was so black, even the white bits were black’. That’s how I want my life to be ‘My life is so wonderful, even the bad bits are good’.
If I can truly achieve that before I leave, I’ll be content.
WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS?
My personal aspirations are few these days. I hope to see the aurora borealis from Scandinavia one day. As of yesterday, I hope to go to Africa on safari one day. That may change tomorrow. But my biggest genuine dream is the same as most Miss Universe entrants: world peace. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? We should never stop believing we humans are capable of achieving this dream. Let’s evolve.
Since moving to Eureka I’ve discovered a passion for my garden, for my community and for my dog. I love to cook, I love to make cheese, I love to play games and my husband of many years would probably be surprised to know how often I think of him and am so overwhelmed by love my eyes fill with tears. He is, by far, my biggest inspiration and the best human I know.
WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
Magnificent. I grew up in the Sydney suburb of La Perouse in the 1960’s. My father was a Czech refugee and a jazz pianist, my mother a girl from Dubbo, an actress and a unique and amazing woman. The worst housekeeper in the world, she would spend most of the day playing with her children; me, my older sister and my younger brother. We lived in the same street as the aboriginal ‘reserve’, as it was called then. Redfern and La Perouse were the only two real urban aboriginal communities in Sydney. My mother was very involved with the community and our babysitter was Aunty Marj Timbery, proud daughter of King Billy and Queen Emma. We felt special to have a real princess as our babysitter. In fact, despite being extremely working class, my mother managed to make us feel incredibly special and privileged all the time as we grew up. I never had any indication that we were not well off, as a child. Looking back, I am so grateful for my parents’ skill in achieving this. My father was proud of us in the way only a Czech man can be; and my mother’s infinite capacity for love gave me such a strong sense of security, I was able to be myself.
YOUR MOST INSPIRATIONAL BOOK, MOVIE, ALBUM OR ARTWORK?
Honestly? More than anything, especially when I am alone in Sydney as I am for a couple of days each week, I listen to my husband’s music. I love his voice, his choice of musicians and I think he writes the best, most interesting, most moving and most meaningful lyrics of any songwriter I know. I often find scraps of paper lying around the house with a line or two he’s jotted down. It’s like finding treasure.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE DEFINING MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE?
I was 17 when I met my first true love. Our relationship was a short one; a year, perhaps? Maybe even less. But what a man he was! I have never, before or since, met anyone even remotely like him. A truly incredible and unique human. Our first rendezvous (July 4 1978. A defining moment, so I have never forgotten the date) was a 2.30am climb of the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We worked together and he asked if I wanted to wait till his shift finished and then climb the bridge with him. ‘Sure!’ I replied. Fearless! And, I’ll admit, when he suggested we go back to his house to put some rough clothes on for the climb, I suspected he just wanted to get me to his house…but no, we went to his house, he found me some old clothes and off we went. His house! Oh my. A small terrace style house in Darlinghurst, he opened the front door and two feet in front of me was a wall, another wall immediately to my left, another to my right, all reaching the ceiling. In other words, I was standing in….a box, really. The top two feet of the wall in front swung open, like a hatch, or a trapdoor. We had to climb, scramble over the wall and through the trapdoor to get inside. The room we scrambled into had only two things in it: a raised platform coming out from the far corner, like a small stage really. And hanging from the ceiling, a huge round operating light he had salvaged from a veterinarian surgery. A doorway led to the kitchen, a room full of fascinating things. There were animal skulls, feathers, drawings, a beautiful wooden table with an anatomically perfect vagina carved into it’s edge. And sitting on the table a sculpture, one of his. White, crumbling plaster walls on three sides (an invisible fourth, as we experience in a theatre), a tiny, cloth wrapped figure in the centre, taut strings stretching from the figure to the walls, maybe half a dozen of these. Beautiful, striking, detailed work that would have taken hours and hours of labour and attention to detail. Later, I discovered he would make these works of art, leave them sitting in his house for a few days, a week, maybe two or three. And then destroy them. A true artist, doing the work to do the work, not for anyone’s approval or for acclaim or recognition.
Anyway….off we went and climbed that bridge, in the middle of winter, when it wasn’t designed for climbing like it is these days. Wow!! It was windy and cold when we reached the top and stood in the centre, watching the traffic. Our first kiss. Quite the location.
So why do I see this as a defining moment? He was a man true to himself. A man who knew who he was, he taught me the meaning and value of integrity. All my life, that has been the single most important quality in a human, for me. I haven’t always achieved it myself. Not at all. But I’ve searched for it and adored it in others. My husband is a very different man to that first love, except for two things: he is also a true and uncompromising artist, and his integrity is unwavering and unquestionable.
And while I am relatively unattached to ‘things’, I have by my bed a wooden sculpture my first love made for me. It’s been right there in every house I’ve lived in since and it is probably my most precious ‘thing’. And my husband has always understood and never felt threatened by that, or by my abiding love and gratitude for that first extraordinary relationship I was so fortunate to experience.
WHAT BREAKS YOUR HEART?
I don’t understand why people are so cruel to each other. I don’t understand why our government is making such ugly and cruel decisions affecting those most in need. My heart breaks every day over these things lately.
WHAT MENDS YOUR HEART?
The belief that this human life is but the blink of an eye. That the bigger picture is just so much bigger than this tiny little spinning rock. That we are all connected, all made of the same stuff, that the only judgement that really matters comes from ourselves and that we can’t ultimately avoid that. So there is no need for me to judge or to bemoan the fact that I can’t ‘fix’ the world. It is, in fact, all going to be all right.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS?
When you become a mother, it’s hard not to develop some fear. Prior to the birth of our beautiful daughter in 1988, I was actually pretty fearless. That sounds like a big call, but it’s pretty true. I do have a fear of falling over. Literally. I had a string of sprained and broken ankles and broken toes over a short period of time recently, and got as close to depressed as I’ve ever been in my life. So now I do Tai Chi and yoga to try and address my carelessness with my own body. And I constantly remind my daughter to look after herself, take care of her precious self, for MY sake.
HOW OLD WOULD YOU BE IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW?
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR 16 YEAR OLD SELF?
You can’t fix anyone. (Because I’ve discovered they aren’t broken)
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Pride is one of the 7 deadly sins. And it comes before a fall. So I’ve tried really hard to avoid it but…oh my lord, my daughter is the most incredible, wonderful thing, a brilliant addition to planet Earth, and my biggest contribution to making the world a better place! My heart swells with pride whenever I think of her.
WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?
This precious human life.
WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE OR LAUGH?
Almost anything! I love to laugh. I am one of the most easily amused people I know. I see this as a gift (rather than a character flaw, as some of my more somber friends occasionally suggest..! I tend to laugh off that kind of criticism…which kind of drives them crazy!)
WHERE IS YOUR LOCAL SACRED LOCATION?
My vegetable garden. My hands in the gorgeous red soil, coaxing food to grow, it’s like magic.
WHO IS YOUR MUSE?
Not one woman, but many over the years. Friends, colleagues, I have known some truly inspirational women.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR YOURSELF THAT HELPS YOU KEEP GOING?
I find copious cups of tea extremely helpful.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TRIED SOMETHING NEW AND WHAT WAS IT?
Probably making cheese, and it’s been about 18 months or so I guess. It’s like alchemy! A magical process. A few months ago I started crocheting, too. I’m embracing all the CWA skills, now I’m a rural woman.
DO YOU HAVE WISDOM TO SHARE?
I’ve been an actress all my life so it seems fitting to offer this quote by the Bard, William Shakespeare, as the wisest piece of advice for all of us:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
WHAT QUESTIONS WOULD YOU LIKE TO ANSWER
“Hey Anna, how on earth have you managed to keep your good looks?”
you can find Anna here