MURGON GIRL: Leah Purcell stars in ABC1's Redfern Now.
MURGON GIRL: Leah Purcell stars in ABC1's Redfern Now. Contributed

Murgon woman a show stopper

LIFE in Murgon played a major part in shaping the life and work of Leah Purcell.

Born to an Aborginal mother and a white Australian father, the actress has come a long way since she moved from Murgon to Brisbane when she 19.

Purcell is currently starring in the ABC1 drama Redfern Now, a six-part series about indigenous Australians living in the Sydney suburb of Redfern.

But despite her success on stage and on screen, Murgon will always have a special place in the heart of the 42-year-old.

"I love Murgon - it's still my true home," Purcell said.

"All the trials and tribulations I had in Murgon have shaped who I am today.

"The friendships I have formed in both Murgon and Cherbourg will stay with me forever."

Purcell was born on August 14, 1970, at Murgon Hospital and grew up on Perkins St, with her mother and grandmother being major influences in her life.

"I am absolutely driven by these two women who lived in a time where Aboriginal women didn't have any rights," she said.

"Losing them, especially my mother, was a life changing experience."

Purcell lost her grandmother when she was 10 and her mother when she was 18.

"When Mum died it made me pull my socks up," she said.

"I had a daughter of my own who was a month old, so I had to look after her.

"I wanted her to have the opportunities I didn't have."

After the death of her mother, Purcell moved to Brisbane where she landed her first professional acting job with Street Arts Theatre playing a role in Through Murri Eyes.

Purcell said she felt lucky to have been able to make a living in such a competitve industry.

"Hard work and some talent has got me where I am today," she said.

"And I've been fortunate to make money off doing straight performance."

Purcell said it was important for indigenous people to be recognised in the entertainment sector.

"It's important for us (indigenous Australians) to tell the stories of our people while telling our own stories in our own way," she said.

"Redfern Now was about creating the right stories which touched everyone."

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