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FAMILY LORE … Michelle and her mother Jenny Phang in 2005.

Spotlighting chronic illness is her next crusade with Homecoming Queens, a web series she co-created and co-wrote with friend Chloe Reeson, streaming on SBS OnDemand from mid-April. The semi-autobiographical series touches on Chloe’s breast cancer diagnosis in her early 20s and the auto-immune condition alopecia areata that has affected Michelle since she was a teenager. “We would leave parties early together and commiserate about how nobody understood what we were going through,” she says. “We were living in this nowhere stage in our lives where we were young but we felt quite old.” Homecoming Queens also brings Michelle’s first proper screen credit for playing the character based upon herself. She describes the on-screen Michelle as flawed, selfish and brash and admits channelling the different personality was challenging. “It took a while for me to separate myself from my character and the fear that people will see the character and think that’s what I’m like in real life.” It’s not the first time a version of Michelle has appeared on screen with

Australian woman, that weren’t heavily stereotyped. “Now more diverse roles are being cast on the screen and hopefully that will only get better.” Also taking shape is a musical she hopes to develop with La Boite. “That’s the next frontier. I really love musicals. I love music and singing and I used to play violin as a kid. Music has always been a part of our family. We actually have a cousin who was a pop singer in Hong Kong!” Michelle also returns to WOW Festival here next month, for a panel discussion on female storytellers. “I’d really love to talk about women in the entertainment industry especially in light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement in the US (and) starting to trickle down to Australia. “I think it’s a lot more widespread in the Australian industry than we realise (and) that sort of harassment affects all other industries as well.”

Makinti Napanangka ‘Kungka Kutjarra’ 120 x 180cm

REVEALING … Homecoming Queens touches on Michelle’s alopecia (hair loss).

SINGLE-MINDED … Single Asian Female’s Alex Lee, Courtney Stewart and Hsiao-Ling Tang.

older brother Benjamin spotlighting their Queensland clan in his book and subsequent SBS television series The Family Law. The comedy features characters named after members of the real-life Law family and storylines that are rooted in fact. “It is funny when people come up to me on the street and say they feel like they know my family,” she says. “With the TV show, so much is fictionalised but people assume it’s real. I have to say, ‘I’m so sorry to tell you but that never happened.’” The Family Law brought not just success for Benjamin and recognition for his family but it also introduced Michelle to her boyfriend, George

Zhao. The Sydney-based actor was cast as Andrew Law – a character based on her brother – and the two have been together for three years. While George films the third and final season of The Family Law in Brisbane, Michelle is working on an ever-growing list of projects. She received Screen Australia funding to develop Laurinda, a young adult novel by her friend, Melbourne author Alice Pung, into a screenplay and also hints she’d like to spend more time in front of the camera. “A part of why I became a writer is because I wanted to be an actor one day and I knew there would never be any roles for me, as an Asian-

THE STORY-TELLERS: CULTURAL LEADERS SPEAK OUT, Apr 6, WOW Festival 2018, Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm. HOMECOMING QUEENS will stream via SBS On Demand next month.

‘Director’s Choice’ Aboriginal and Contemporary Art Exhibition Showing until 29th March. 86 Arthur St, Fortitude Valley P 3254 2297

Brisbane News Magazine March 14 - 20, 2018. ISSUE 1168  

Brisbane's premier weekly lifestyle mag, featuring the people, events, food, and properties that make our city beautiful.

Brisbane News Magazine March 14 - 20, 2018. ISSUE 1168  

Brisbane's premier weekly lifestyle mag, featuring the people, events, food, and properties that make our city beautiful.