How Australian Actress Brenna Harding Was Born Into Her Activism
All Photos Liz Ham

FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

Identity

How Australian Actress Brenna Harding Was Born Into Her Activism

“I learned from a young age that my voice could make a difference, especially around LGBTIQ rights.”
October 18, 2016, 1:27am

Australian actor Brenna Harding is best known for playing Sue Knight in the television remake of classic coming-of-age film Puberty Blues, a major role she landed at 15. But she was in the public eye at a younger age, when she appeared with her same-sex parents on a segment of Australian children's program Play School.

The response was immediate: the network received letters complaining that Gay School, as the episode was dubbed, had "robbed children of their innocence". Then-Prime Minister John Howard even called the network "foolish" for depicting eight-year-old Harding with her two mothers. Despite the controversy, the incident sparked a national conversation around diverse families and media representation—a significant step for Australia's LGBT community.

Advertisement

Harding—now 20—says the experience shaped her ambitions. "Having that attention and awareness of my family being different, and my voice being powerful, has really affected all the different things I've done," she recalls. "It totally contributed to my career choice and social justice interests. I really learned from a young age that my voice could make a difference, especially in the conversation around LGBTIQ rights."

From attending a same-sex adoption inquiry at age 12 to becoming the president of LGBTIQ rights organisation Wear It Purple while still in high school, Harding's post-Play School life has been centred around activism. Even her on-screen roles often align with her beliefs, telling Broadly, "I'm naturally drawn to some roles over others, mostly if they have pretty feminist undertones or political messages."

Of her breakout role on Puberty Blues, she remembers, "We had these incredible writers, directors, and producers who put together this intricate piece that really honoured the history of Australia and the history of the feminist movement in Australia, and that's something I really wanted to get on board with."

Today, Harding is balancing her acting commitments—including a recurring role on 1950s drama A Place to Call Home—with university and advocacy work. Most recently, she launched Moonlight Feminists, a monthly meet-up and online community where young women can share their experiences.