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TV

The cast of Mystery Road celebrates taking Indigenous stories to the mainstream

“It means that people are taken by our stories and believe they’re pertinent”

By Cynthia Wang
In the ABC drama Mystery Road, Aaron Pedersen's strong and stoic detective Jay Swan teams up with Judy Davis' feisty local detective Emma James to find a teenager who's gone missing from a remote outback town.
Directed by Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae) and featuring veteran and new talent such as Aaron, Wayne Blair and Tasia Zalar, the atmospheric and gripping saga took out the Silver Logie for Most Popular Drama, surprising the audience – and even the cast itself.
"There was Home And Away, Neighbours and Wentworth," Wayne, 47, a Most Outstanding Supporting Actor nominee, marvelled to TV WEEK about some of the other shows in the category.
"But now we have Most Popular Drama. It's absolutely amazing and well deserved. We worked hard."
"It's absolutely amazing and well deserved!" Wayne says of the win.
Aaron, who brought Jay Swan to life in two films in addition to Mystery Road, and who was up for Most Outstanding Actor himself, toasted the series' win with gratitude.
"It's a popular validation; I think we're the first Indigenous program to win it," Aaron, 48, tells TV WEEK.
"It means that people are taken by our stories and believe they're pertinent.
"That's important for allowing the country to mature and to learn more about us Indigenous people. But also to fundamentally see us as just normal people. That's the most beautiful thing about it."
The cast promised to text their congratulations to Judy, who was nominated for Most Outstanding Actress, but didn't attend the event.
"Judy never goes to the Academy Awards or the Emmys, and she's been nominated for both," Wayne explains with a laugh.
Of being in Mystery Road and working with Judy, Aaron added, "This is a journey of a lifetime, one that I never thought I'd get in my career. Judy only enhanced the whole thing."
The cast celebrate their win backstage.
Tasia, making her debut at a TV WEEK Logie Awards, admitted that her first reaction upon hearing the show had won was to try not to fall over and to make sure she smiled.
"I can't believe I went up on stage in front of everyone and I was on TV live!" a blushing Tasia, 27, said.
"I think that Australia is behind Mystery Road," the Graham Kennedy Award For Most Popular New Talent nominee added. "It really fuels me to keep going, and keep us all going. It's good to get good feedback."
That momentum will take the team far. Wayne, who directed Miranda Tapsell's 2019 romantic comedy film Top End Wedding, is to co-direct Mystery Road's second season with Warwick Thornton (Sweet Country). Production starts this month.
Clearly, the public is ready for more.
"We're bringing our stories to the front line of filmmaking and television," Aaron said. "That they're gravitating towards it is a bonus."
Tasia with stylist Donny Galella at the TV WEEK Logies.
To read more interviews with this year's TV WEEK Logie Award winners, pick up a copy of the new issue of TV WEEK! On sale now...
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