Introducing our Creative Mentor Christine

CHRISTINE-CUMMINS-150x150 Performing was always something I did through childhood. Lots of home and school concerts, studying voice, ballet and piano. Professional acting appeared in my life at 14 (looking 18) when my father, a well known Australian tenor, Lorenzo Nolan, was a guest on an ABC recital series. There was no ‘industry’ per se in those days. A play was being recorded in the next studio and they wanted a Puerto Rican prostitute at the bar, so with a “she’ll do” in the hallway, and a little costume and brown makeup later they dragged me onto the set. After that, with an almost non-existent pool of talent in Melbourne and only two major employers, it was a given that the ABC and Crawfords would call on me for various ‘ethnic’ roles; Greek, Yugoslavian, Maltese, Italian, French. These roles called for accents and sometimes even spoken language, so it was necessary to foray out to find a Greek, Italian, et. al, tape the script being spoken and then learn it. With little training it was ‘catch as catch can’.  I learned from watching and listening and loving to perfect the work. Piano and chorale singing helped my ear and people watching was natural to me. From 60s to 80s selling product on TV was pretty much the dominion of the blue eyed blonde. I gave up the idea of bleaching my hair for TV ads when I was told they could only take it back to bright red. Theatre gave me the opportunity to take on English and Irish accents and film was more accepting of the dark haired Aussie. My father’s background was Portuguese/Irish and my mother’s was French, Scottish and Polish Jew. In fact one of mother’s ancestors was the first Jew born in WA. Mother Dorothy was born in outback Meekatharra and Lorenzo was born in the slums of South Melbourne in 1914, one of 9 children.

Raised with few constraints, mostly out climbing trees, riding bikes and catching ‘taddies’ there were few walls around me and no locked doors on our house; father was DLP Catholic and mother was a Liberal C of E. They shared a freedom to believe and do as they wished and gave their children the same. Spoiled with lack of structure. Acting became an organic part of my life, through marriage, children, catering and restaurant businesses, a three year stint in Miami Beach, Fla. where we ran a shop with art accessories and art works. At 17 I began making a living as a law clerk and legal secretary. Temporary legal work fitted in with uncertain acting work over the years. From 2001 my involvement in mental health issues with a family member led me into Mental Health outreach work with an NGO, and over a period of seven years I obtained a Cert IV for Workplace Training and Assessment and trained carers in a C’wealth Govt initiative to advocate for themselves and their families, which led to new insights to MH understanding in the practise of early intervention and the value of community consultation.  In 2013 I have eight grandchildren; two of mine and six of the blended family variety. My oldest child is 43 and I have two stepdaughters. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 99, am ‘breast free’ and still have three weekly chemotherapy treatment. Today I auditioned as an overweight 60 year old Albanian woman and have no idea if I got the part. It’s best to set and forget, so it’s like winning the lottery if you are chosen. Various caring roles have come my way and over the years this has proved to be my leaning. Mostly happiest in the company of family and friends, and being taught how to ‘be’ in this new world by children, there are times when I want to write, want to sing, want to play piano and like most people want to take some rare time out and sit in the sun in a place overlooking the sea to recover a quiet self. I look to higher powers in all of us to build a better world, and treasure all that has been given me by those who have loved me. For me, both caring and acting are equally creative endeavours where we can fully experience the act of living and learn to surpass ourselves.

I am very privileged to have been given the opportunity to work with the Future Foundations team and look forward to contributing to our pilot program.

If you would like to see Christine’s showreel click here.

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