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Mystery Road star Tasma Walton on her hidden family history

'The more I understand my heritage, the more it makes complete sense to me.'

For long periods of Tasma Walton's life, something felt off. She had the happy home life – wonderful husband, beautiful daughter – but it was as if an unanswered question was clouding her identity.
"Pieces in the puzzle were missing," Tasma reveals to TV WEEK.
The actress, who was raised by her mother in Geraldton, Western Australia, explains she had always felt unsure about her heritage.
While living in the US with her husband, Australian TV presenter Rove McManus, Tasma did a DNA blood test. But the results failed to shed more light on her lineage. The tests declared her background was 93 per cent British and seven per cent unknown.
However, over the past five years, members of her family have been digging into the past. As a result, Tasma learnt some surprising news about her history.
"It took me a long time to discover my Indigenous heritage," the 44-year-old says.
"On my mum's side, my ancestors were taken from their clan and brought over to Western Australia.
"They were completely separated and isolated from their families. They were made to become white, relinquish cultural ties and fit into a colonised world."
'It took me a long time to discover my roots.'
The secret story of her relatives is reflected in the actress' body of work.
A long-time champion of Indigenous stories, Tasma has appeared in ABC's Cleverman, as well as the 2013 Mystery Road film and now TV series.
So is that just a coincidence or something more cosmic?
"The more I understand my Aboriginal heritage, the more it makes complete sense to me," Tasma says.
"My bloodline has been on this land for tens of thousands of years. So the more I learnt about myself and my family, the more yearning I felt to tell these stories.
"I can't help but feel proud and want to explore that and tell the world about that."
Filming Mystery Road in the Kimberley offered the actress a chance to visit her favourite place in WA.
While cruising the Kimberley was fun for Tasma, it did mean time away from her four-year-old daughter, Ruby.
"It was hard," Tasma admits of her and Rove's conflicting work schedules. "But it often plays out like that with Rove and I. We have these chunks of time where we're single-parenting."
So how do they do it?
"Ruby has become very used to Skype," Tasma laughs. "But we just make it work. And sometimes it's nice to actually immerse yourself in the work, free from the duty and obligation of parenting."
When talk turns to motherhood, Tasma again sees it as a time when her lost lineage rises to the surface.
"I always felt a strong connection to this country, and we spent time living overseas in Los Angeles," Tasma explains. "But when we had Ruby, I knew we had to come back. The idea of having her outside of this country never made any sense."

Mystery Road airs Sunay, 8:30pm, ABC.

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