Indigenous writers and actors Miranda Tapsell and Nakkiah Lui released their new podcast on Audible yesterday.
Debutante: Race, Resistance and Girl Power explores the little-known space of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander debutante balls, trying to unpack whether the strange colonial tradition, rooted as it is in oppression and colonisation, can be hijacked and made empowering in 2020.
The first national Aboriginal debutante ball took place in Sydney in 1968, just a year after the 1967 referendum, which amended the Australian constitution to include Indigenous people in the census, and allowed the Government to craft separate legislation for Indigenous people.
Miranda, a Larrakia and Tiwi woman, celebrated the launch of the podcast on Instagram, writing: "We are incredibly proud of this series and we hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed making it."
She added on Twitter that the series celebrates "some Black and Brown excellence": "We hope it lights a fire in you because there is much 👏🏾to👏🏾learn 👏🏾and 👏🏾do."
Nakkiah, a Gamillaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman, described making the series on Instagram as the "experience of a lifetime". "It's a journey around the world about race, resistance & girl power through the history of the Aboriginal Deb Ball.
"We go from the local Aboriginal church in Mt Druitt during deb rehearsals, to previous slave markets in the antebellum south and historically black universities, to First Nations people's land in the US, to the Ritz in London . . . to come back to Australia to recognise our violent past and the power of Black women and celebrating their strength, beauty and ability to change the world!"
They've each got a personal connection to the idea — Nakkiah's mum now runs debutante balls in Sydney's Mount Druitt, while Miranda's mum was a debutante herself in Darwin in 1971.
In the first episode, we're told about the first national Aboriginal debutante ball in 1968, meeting the women who were excited to potentially dance with the Prime Minister, John Gorton. We're also introduced to the current generation of Aboriginal debutantes at a 2018 ball at Sydney Town Hall, who are excited about using this moment to step into womanhood.
As Miranda described it, many Aboriginal communities now hold debutante balls "as a celebration of culture, but also as a statement that we are strong, powerful, beautiful women even if the rest of society doesn't always make it easy to believe".
There's much more in the first episode, from talking to experts, to Nakkiah taking an etiquette class in London — overall, you can expect a podcast that's funny, moving and confronting.
Miranda and Nakkiah have a comfortable rapport on the show, having first collaborated on a podcast for Buzzfeed in 2017, Pretty for an Aboriginal, and having appeared and co-written the powerful season finale of Get Krack!n on the ABC.
Debutante: Race, Resistance and Girl Power is available on Audible for free for one month here.