Interview with Tibian Wyles

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Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Townsville, most of my life, and then I moved out when I was 17 and went an lived in Brisbane to study there at a place called ACPA - Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts.


What got you into the performing arts to begin with?

My whole family were footy based, everyone played footy and I did too, but I liked dancing as well. I just loved all the dance movies and that inspired me to start dancing myself. I only started properly when I was 13 - when I got to high school I started teaching myself how to dance. From there, the Indigenous Agency Officer at school, she looks after all the indigenous kids, she saw an audition call out for ACPA and said "Tibs you should do this next year when you finish" and I was like "oh yeah I'll think about it".... I wasn't going to but straight after that she followed with "well, don't think too hard because we already booked your flights and you're going for your audition in a few days!". I was like "WHAT?!?" So I got in and I ended up going to ACPA and they opened a new world for me in contemporary, jazz and ballet and that kind of stuff.


That must have been quite a change for you and your family....

It was really emotional for my whole family and even my friends too. They all came out to see me jump in the plane and when I got up to the plane they were all crying... but you know it was a goal that I had to chase. Getting out of Townsville is a big thing for young Indigenous kids like myself. If you're getting out you're doing something that's worth pursuing. 

Then you lived in Brisbane...

Yeah I lived in Brisbane for the next 4 years. I went there as a dancer and halfway through my Cert 4 I transferred to do acting so I left ACPA as an actor then but still with a dance background.

When I was in school my biggest inspiration for dancing was, they're called Djuki Mala now but they were originally known as the Chooky Dancers. At the time they were all over the TV on Australia's Got Talent and traveling overseas and stuff and one of my dreams was to dance, share my culture and do comedy as well and that's exactly what Djuki Mala is about. I wanted to dance with them one day. For me, I thought that was a really really far goal but when I started dancing the goal got more in reach and then I met Josh Bond, the director now of Djuki Mala, when I was at ACPA through the BLAKflip program with Circus Oz. They came in to ACPA and they saw me and Josh gave me his contact and I rang him and he wanted me to go into the BLAKflip program. I went there and met my brother now, one of the dancers at Djuki Mala / Chooky Dancers and me and him got off to a brotherly start - we just clicked with everything. A few years past and he decided he wanted to adopt me in a cultural way, and I think Josh wanted to as well. That's how I got in to dance with the Djuki Mala /  Chooky Dancers.


And you literally just got back from Edinburgh Festival, how was it?

Yeah just got back with those guys. It was a big thing because you're there for the whole month dancing with 3 days off maximum through the whole festival - the first week's the hardest because there's no break but it's really fun.


How did you get involved with Man With The Iron Neck?

Because of my background with acting, I've been acting in big productions before this, I did a play with Wesley Enoch and Queensland Theatre Company called Black Diggers and that was really successful, we traveled around the country doing that play, then I did Country Song, and being with Djuki Mala it was easy for Josh to say "Tibs I want you to come and do this development" and that was for the first ever development of this production in maybe 2014, a while ago. I've been in this production since the very start watching different artists come through to make the show what it is now. For me, Josh and Andy and everyone who's been there from the very start, Cecily and Legs, to see it where it is now it's just unbelievable that it's all about to happen... it's about to come out! We're all so excited, nerves and butterflies everywhere just waiting for the opening night of this show. 


It's pretty heavy material...

It's a story and subject that needs to be talked about. As human beings, as black fellas, we shy away from the subject of suicide, but we need to talk about it. If we don't talk about it then people won't talk about it to their family and friends. Through this play I want to give people reasons to, not only talk about suicide but to give reasons to fight through depression and all the stuff that causes people to think about suicide - show them reasons to fight through like family and friends and all this beautiful stuff and to cherish life and to cherish people around them. That's my main thing for this play.


It is a huge show. But I'm also wondering about your future, what are your plans and dreams for your career?

I see myself doing this over the next 5 to 10 years definitely. One of my big goals though is to be in a feature film before I get too old! I want to start playing the young bad boy kind of thing like Romeo, I want to be able to play characters like that. I've done a lot of theatre stuff and love it, but I want to be part of a film production as well!

Andrew Batt-Rawden