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Noongar star Carissa Lee makes kids' television debut in 2024's Planet Lulin

Jarred Cross -

Noongar actor Carissa Lee will be in charge around the classrooms of the ABC's new kids comedy-drama Planet Lulin in 2024.

The coming-of-age, suburban Aussie sci-fi series centres around Lulin, played by Nina Gallas, coming to grips with new alien powers while navigating grade six with schoolmates, her human dad and extraterrestrial mum

Gold Logie winner Lisa McCune, Aunty Donna's Zachary Ruane, Kevin Hofbauer, and young stars lead the cast alongside Ms Lee.

Following primetime television, stage and voice-over work, the grizzled and scary archetype bossing around the school is a character worlds away from Ms Lee's Principal Cruz.

Carissa Lee (far left) and Zachary Ruane (far right) in Planet Lulin. (Image: supplied)

She told National Indigenous Times on being offered the role, the fun-loving character was an exciting task.

"I don't think I could play like an evil principle, it would have been so difficult being mean to them (the young cast)," she said.

"This is the first time I've done a really kids focus show, which was why it was an extra surprise that I was asked to do it. It was just so nice that I got the opportunity.

"The kids were so professional… It was really awesome and really fun. And I think we were always laughing and having a really good time."

For target and older audiences alike, Ms Lee said "outlandish, really heightened energy and kind of crazy storytelling" in Planet Lulin might feel familiar to ABC Aussie children's classic Round The Twist.

It also provides something many didn't get to see in their living rooms growing up.

A country kid growing up in Swan Hill on Wemba-Wemba country, and later Berrin (Mount Gambier), passion to pursue a career in acting began in high school, in-part thanks to her drama teacher.

Further studies in acting in South Australia and Flinders University followed.

While already making her way in the industry, Ms Lee started her PhD in Indigenous Theatre at the University of Melbourne.

She said the research gave her a sense of "artists and how they were feeling about the current landscape of Indigenous representation, as well as how theatre companies work with mob".

"It's definitely something that I keep in mind whenever I'm working with other mob," Ms Lee said.

"It's a good thing to have in mind - how we can collaborate with non-Indigenous people in a way that represents us in the best way."

She said the point where she felt "legit" came a decade ago in the State Theatre Company South Australia production Top Girls.

"I was cast not because of my ethnicity, I was cast just out of audition. And I was just playing a person in the world. And that was kind of awesome.

"Not that there's anything wrong with being cast concrete, you know, for your identity. I think that's equally as important."

The diversity in the cast of Planet Lulin presents something that wasn't on screen during her youth.

"It made me so happy, honestly. I think workplaces that have diverse people in there are better workplaces all together...not just for morale - which is wonderful, because you've got beautiful personalities there, But also just working with different points of view," Ms Lee said.

"And it made me happy because I think it's really important for kids to see themselves represented on TV or film. Because growing up, there wasn't that much for me at all.

"I think it's been lacking in the past. I'm really glad that places like ABC are working to address it in a really active way."


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