For the first time in its 29 years on air, Channel Ten’s soap opera “Neighbours” will add an Indigenous actor to its main cast. Actor Meyne Wyatt will debut on the show in the episode shown in Australia on 13th August as Nate Kinski.
Fairfax reports, the 24-year-old NIDA graduate will play “a non-indigenous” role loosely linked to two of Ramsay Street’s longtime residents, Susan and Karl Kennedy. Wyatt has previously appeared in theatre and film projects, including Tim Winton’s The Turning and Strangerland, which also stars Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Guy Pearce. He also appears on the ABC’s award-winning series “Redfern Now”.
The first indigenous actor to appear on Neighbours was actually Tony Briggs in 1987. He later went on to write the Helpmann Award-winning play The Sapphires, which he later adapted into the film. However, Wyatt will be the first Indigenous performer to join the main cast of the long-running show which has often faced criticism for its all-white casting.
In 1993 the show ran a storyline the involved the involved the Asian Lim family being accused of eating the pet dog of another family, the Martins. According to The Guardian a writer and producer for “Neighbours”, Susan Bower, also claimed she wanted to move a Lebanese Muslim family into Ramsay Street but the production company “felt it might be too much too soon”.
“Neighbours” series producer Jason Herbison said the decision to cast Wyatt was purely based on merit. “While cultural diversity is definitely important, in cases where we don’t need a specific ethnic background, our brief to agents is to put forward their best people and that was the case for this character,” he said.
“Meyne is an exceptional young award-winning actor and very much on the radar of casting directors. We feel very privileged to have him join our regular cast. From his first audition, we knew we had found the best actor for the role.”