Charmaine Bingwa, the first queer actress of colour to win the Heath Ledger Scholarship, exclusively in YASS

Charmaine Bingwa is an award-winning Australian / Zimbabwean queer actress of colour who is becoming the revelation of the year. She recently became the first woman of colour and member of the LGBTQI community to win the prestigious Australians in Film Heath Ledger Scholarship and was awarded the 2018 Equity Award by the Australian Union. Charmaine has received many awards and nominations such the Sydney Theatre Award nomination and Broadway World nomination for Best Supporting Actress in her turn as  role of Mrs Muller in Doubt: A Parable.

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credits: Paul Smoth (@paulsmithphotography)

Charmaine Bingwa recently completed shooting feature film Nekrotonic alongside international star Monica Bellucci, as well as Australian feature film The Pitch and graced theatre stages 79 times across in 5 different productions in some of Australia’s most celebrated venues. Embodying the true meaning of multi-faceted, she also starred, wrote, produced and directed the 7 episode series Little Sista. It was a 2018 recipient of Queer Screen & American Express’ Completion Fund. It also won Best Screenplay at the LGBT Toronto Film Festival and has been selected in Web Series Festival Global, Hollywood, Out Fest LA, Sicily Web Fest, Roma Cinema DOC and Melbourne Web Fest. She was awarded a placement at Charlie’s in Raleigh Studios in LA in 2018 and works closely with Australians in Film and ScreenNSW.

In her spare time, Charmaine plays the guitar and has supported artists such as Demi Lovato, Rachel Platten and Fifth Harmony on their tours down under. YASS Magazine met Charmaine Bingwa and this is the proof ❤️.


Did you expect the huge success (unanimous acclaim, awards, etc.) of Little Sista?

I could never have anticipated how well it has done. It started off as a quick script I wrote and wanted to make with bunch of friends. When it started winning awards even at script stage, I got an inkling that Little Sista had that special sauce and resonated with many people.

How did you come up of the story of the series? Is it based on true facts?

I used to mentor at-risk youth, had a dodgy flatmate who ran away with my money and I had a weird mix up with a builder, the n-word and the Chinese language… I’ll let y’all guess what else is fact and what is fiction.

Tell us a bit about your character in the series. How is the character defined and how would you identify as a person?

My character is a charming, yet delinquent love-rat. She shuns all responsibility, including that to her girlfriend, until she meets Lucy a 10 year-old at-risk youth she now has to mentor. Aside from her sexuality and occasional wit and charm, I bear few similarities to the character. 

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credits: Paul Smoth (@paulsmithphotography)

What issues is the series dealing with and what are the challenges of exploring female identity?

The series is ultimately about people finding family and homes outside of their family of origin. Along way we also hit upon LGBTI rights, what it means to be ethnically diverse, bullying, fidelity, foster care, addiction, overcoming adversity and more.

Do you think the LGBTQ+ creatives are under-represented in your industry? How important is the inclusivity of LGBTQ+ cinema?

I think we are under-represented on screen, and I actually think LGBTI representation and inclusivity is a matter of life or death. LGBT youth contemplate suicide three times as much as hetero youth. Imagine how different this would be if they could see people just like them on screen and thriving, not just surviving.

Why aren’t there many queer female characters within the media?

EXACTLY! But I feel optimistic that this is changing and fast…

Do you feel women are more empowered nowadays and that feminism is breaking the masculine stereotypes of the society?

I really think all gender stereotypes are falling away and it’s about time! It makes little sense that when we are born we are divided into pink and blue teams, loaded with expectations, and reduced to stereotypes. It excites me to see women breaking tradition by demanding equal pay, calling out harassment and a million other impressive things right now.

credits: Paul Smoth (@paulsmithphotography)

How was your coming out process?

It’s a story too long for this article, but the Cliff Notes version is that my brother ended up telling my mother as I was too frightened at the time. Which is ironic as now I won’t shut up about it! So, it was a bit of a hot mess really!

What shall we expect from you in the future?

I’m so pleased to recently be named as a finalist in the prestigious 2018 Heath Ledger Scholarship – judged by industry heavy weights including Oscar winner Matt Damon, Rose Byrne, Naomi Watts, and more.  I am also about to star in an LGBT sci-fi spectacular called Cairos, written by Zach Paul Brown. It looks like I’ll be writing Season 2 of Little Sista too.


More of Charmaine Bingwa here:

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