Speakers Profile - Leah Purcell

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Leah Purcell comes from a long line of vaudevillians and learnt her trade at family gatherings and sing-a-longs and the high school musical. Her first professional break came in 1993 when she was cast in Bran Nue Dae, which toured Australia. This was followed by more theatre productions and then in 1995 Leah moved to Sydney to become the first presenter of the RED Music Channel on Galaxy Pay TV.

A role in the main cast of the ABC's 'Police Rescue' followed her television presenting work and then in 1997 Purcell was nominated for an AFI Award for Best Actress in a TV Drama for her performance in 'Fallen Angels'. After 'Police Rescue' and 'Fallen Angels' Purcell moved on to the most ambitious project of her career, Box the Pony, a semi-factual account of her life.

Purcell conceived and co-wrote Box the Pony which was the smash hit of the 1997 Festival of the Dreaming and has since played to sellout seasons at the Belvoir St Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, the 1999 Edinburgh Festival and a season at the Barbican Theatre in London for Centenary of Federation celebrations last year. The published text of the play has been critically acclaimed winning both the 1999 NSW and 2000 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards for Best Play and was also awarded a 1999 Human Rights Arts Award. Purcell was recently nominated at the inaugural 2001 Helpmann Awards for Best Female Actor in a Play for her performances in Box the Pony.

Leah received fabulous reviews for her performance in the Olympic Arts Festival's production of Marriage of Figaro, staged at the Sydney Opera House in September 2000, in which she played the role of Suzanne. Leah had previously performed in this production in Queensland, opposite Geoffrey Rush.

Leah stars in the the feature-film Lantana, which also features Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia. The film, which had its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival in June 2001, was produced by Jan Chapman and directed by Ray Lawrence.

This award winning actor, singer and writer is now moving onto another phase of her career as a writer/director and is soon to go into production on a one-hour documentary for SBS Television based on her next book, Black Chic's Talking. Leah is also the co-curator/designer for the Black Chic's Talking multimedia exhibition. Leah has been short-listed to write and direct a short film by the Australian Film Commission and her company Bungabura Productions is currently in development on the screen adaptation of Box the Pony as a feature film.