Kyle Shilling, a relative newbie to acting, is making history as the show’s first Indigenous Australian role.
Being the first indigenous actor to be cast in the drama’s 35-year run on television, he says, “I’m excited to be able to fill those shoes and to represent my culture on this international TV show.”
“It’s amazing to see Australian TV productions integrating a lot more indigenous people and also giving us a voice in our own TV series as well,” said one indigenous person. “It’s been a long time coming but in the last couple of years a lot of shows have been doing it.”
Shilling predicts that some viewers may react negatively, much like they did when the drama first featured a Mori family three years ago.
He says, “I’ve had a number of things in my life that have been a result of who I am and my culture.
And, you know what, I’m just going to say, “Well, you’re watching it and, as much as you probably don’t like it, you’re learning from it” if there are going to be people who criticise it.
Shilling plays Mali Hudson, an old acquaintance of Dean’s (Patrick O’Connor) who shows up to assist MacKenzie (Emily Weir) in setting up a nursery for Dean and Ziggy’s impending child.
Over the coming weeks, more information about the character will be disclosed, and Shilling is looking forward to narratives that discuss Mali’s indigenous roots.
An Aboriginal consultant is on board to assist with the storylines for Mali, just as the show’s creators did when they first introduced the Parata family in 2020.
Shilling argues that because there are more than 500 distinct tribal groups, it is exceedingly difficult in our culture. There are more than 500 different linguistic groups and other things of the sort, but we do have an incredible consultant on board.
He is taking extra precautions to complete things right. He has followed all the protocol and checked in with everyone to ensure everything is well. I’m glad I have someone here to support me because this is a large task.
Although Shilling thinks his character’s ethnic heritage will be revealed gradually, he is eagerly anticipating it.
“The (Parata) boys had their moments during the haka and other events, and I can’t wait to have that moment when, hopefully, I’ll invite cousins, family, and friends to participate in a really beautiful corroboree ceremony celebration for something having to do with Mali or a friend or family member. I’m quite eager about that.
“I believe the outcome will be favourable. Mali is a cheerful individual who cherishes his family and culture, yet negativity will inevitably surround happiness. You cannot perform this type of work and not anticipate that.
While he is aware of the significance of his ground-breaking position, he is also open to having some fun and is hoping that the Home And Away producers have action planned for his character.
He admits that it would be beneficial experience for his desire to become a Hollywood-style action hero, saying, “I’d love a huge, action-packed moment when something occurs and Mali rushes in for the rescue or anything like that.”
He quips, “Marvel will have me as soon as they’re ready to sign me up.
Shilling, who switched to acting after an injury terminated his career as a professional dancer, is simply happy that the moments he has been secretly filming for the past six months are now being shown on television.
The 28-year-old actor claims that in the weeks leading up to his debut, he felt like a child anticipating the opening of a Christmas present. His entire family shares this excitement.
He claims, “My nanny is a huge (Home And Away) fan.”
“When I was a child, after dinner, we would all gather in the living room to watch it with her.
“My parents are ecstatic and have already begun watching it, and friends are contacting me to say, “I’m going to have to start watching it,” to which I reply, “Yep, you will. Yes, everyone is excited.
“I am incredibly proud. The fact that I could do this for both my family and friends makes me happy.