Australia already knows how well Nakkiah Lui can write. Over the past decade the Kamilaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman has risen to become one of the country’s most in-demand playwrights and screenwriters, helming TV favourites like sketch show Black Comedy and the ABC’s six-part series Preppers.
But as her most recent television appearance proves, Lui also goes alright in the kitchen. You may have caught her last week on SBS Food’s The Cook Up, whipping up lemon myrtle mushrooms alongside host Adam Liaw.
One object essential to Lui’s writing endeavours is a mug. As well as being a vessel for caffeine and occasionally alcohol, it comes emblazoned with an important disclaimer. Here, the writer and actor tells us why she loved that mug so much she ordered it six times, as well as the story of a few other important personal belongings – some of which she’d really like to get back.
What I’d save from my house in a fire
I’m extremely sentimental with my belongings and I would most likely just resign to my fate and lay down with my beloved mementoes and trinkets and let the fire take me, dying in agony but peaceful with my things like the true materialist I am.
But if I had to choose, I would save my mum’s protest shirts. I have a bunch that she’s kept throughout her life, from the first Survival Day to the marches from the royal commission into deaths in custody.
It’s very bittersweet to be wearing the shirts that your mum wore and advocating for change for the exact same issues decades apart. The shirts are invaluable to me because they remind me that we all have a responsibility to keep fighting for justice. Duty and activism are core values of my culture as a First Nations person that my parents taught me. They devoted their lives to creating community and I firmly believe that change starts from the ground up.
When I wear the shirts my mum left me, it reminds me that hope is something you create and fight for, just like my mum has done. I’m proud that that is my legacy.
My most useful object
My “pay no attention to my browsing history, I’m a writer not a psychopath” coffee cup.
What can I say? It’s huge, it delivers various liquids into my mouth. It communicates a very useful and true statement, because as a writer, I do know a lot of very specific information about some unsettling, morbid and weird things. It’s a conversation starter on a Zoom meeting – and I have so many of them.
I accidentally ordered six of them and gave some away, but it still feels as if they’re multiplying. I never told my husband I made the mistake of buying so many and he thought he was going mad – they just kept arriving and he kept opening them, like a very low-stakes, inconsequential Groundhog Day.
Side note: he wants people to know this isn’t the first time I’ve accidentally ordered multiples of things online. To that I say: haven’t we all? Let those who’ve never had a slip of the thumb when purchasing online goods cast the first stone.
The item I most regret losing
I take really good care of my belongings and keep a close eye on them. If I’ve learned anything from my First Nations ancestors, it’s that it’s incredibly easy to have your things stolen right out from under you.
However, many years ago, I went to a talk by Bret Easton Ellis. For some reason, I did an outfit change, out of a Rick Owens one-piece and black tutu-esque skirt that I had spent months saving up for. I accidentally left the garments in a shopping bag and someone took them! I’m still convinced I’m going to see someone in that very unique ensemble one day, allowing me to confront them and get my long-lost outfit back.
And I once drunkenly let my friend Amrita wear a fur hat prop from a Black Comedy sketch, set pre-Invasion, that said “Make Gondwanaland Great Again” on it. In my intoxication, I didn’t make it clear that it wasn’t a gift and Amrita left wearing the hat. I still see pics of her wearing it on Instagram, and I really miss that hat. Actually … maybe I’m not as careful with my things as I once thought.
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