Dingo is an Aboriginal Australian actor who has had an extensive
career in film and television. Best known to international audiences
through his film roles as Charlie in Crocodile Dundee II
and as the Australian detective who chases William Hurt around the
globe in Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World, Dingo has
also become a familiar and popular figure on Australian television.
television career is particularly significant for the way it has
broken new ground in the medium's presentation of cultural difference.
Initially taking roles scripted specifically for an Aboriginal actor
by white writers and directors, he has worked consistently to broaden
expectations of what Aboriginality can include and to introduce
and popularise an understanding of Aboriginal perspectives on Australian
Dingo grew up around the small Western Australian town of Mullewa,
where the local Aboriginal people still speak the traditional Wudjadi
language. He first moved into acting in Perth when a basketball
team to which he belonged formed a dance and cultural performance
group Middar. From there, he moved into stage roles in plays by
Western Australian Aboriginal playwright Jack Davis, before gaining
a role in the television miniseries Cowra Breakout (1985)
by Kennedy Miller for the Channel Ten network. Dingo's background
in traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture have been important
to his work in television because, as he points out, working as
an Aboriginal actor frequently involves working also (usually informally)
as a consultant, cultural mediator, co-writer and translator.
first major screen roles were in film, in Tudawali (1985),
Fringe Dwellers (1986) and State of Shock (1989) all
of which had white script writers and directors but which dealt
sympathetically with problems of racism and disadvantage encountered
by Aboriginal people. All three were small release productions designed
substantially for television adaptation and/or distribution. In
1988 he was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Banff Television
Festival for his powerful performance as one of Australia's first
Aboriginal screen actors, Robert Tudawali, in Tudawali.
of Dingo's main skills as an actor is an ability to engage audiences
with an open, easy screen presence and use of humour, while also
capturing serious moods dramatically and convincingly. It is perhaps
this versatility, above all, which has made him highly effective
as a cross-cultural communicator. Dingo's ability with lighter roles
was first demonstrated by his performances in children's drama series,
including Clowning Around (1992) and A Waltz Through the
Hills (1990), for which he received an Australian Film Institute
award for best actor in a Telefeature for his performance as an
Aboriginal bushman, Frank Watson.
his first emergence as a popular figure of mainstream commercial
television occurred with his inclusion in the comedy-variety program
Fast Forward. He is particularly remembered for his comic take-off
of prominent financial commentator Robert Gottliebsen, in which
he imitated Gottliebsen's manner and appearance but translated his
analysis of movements in share prices and exchange rates into colloquial
Fast Forward, Dingo has moved on to roles in other popular
programs such as The Great Outdoors and Heartbreak High.
The latter two roles, as well as his role in Fast Forward,
are significant because they are not clearly marked as specifically
Aboriginal. In The Great Outdoors, Dingo appears alternately
with other well-known Australian television personalities as a compere
in light feature stories about leisure, travel and the environment.
In Heartbreak High, he appears as Vic, a media studies teacher
at multicultural Hartley High. Both roles have done much to normalise
the appearance of Aboriginal people on Australian television and
have provided an important counter to the often fraught treatment
of Aboriginal issues in news and current affairs.
has also continued with serious dramatic roles with a major role
as an Aboriginal police liaison officer, Vincent Burraga, in the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation's highly acclaimed drama series
Heartland. The series was many ways groundbreaking, not only
in its inclusion of Aboriginal people in script writing and production
and frequent adoption of Aboriginal perspectives, but also for its
naturalistic treatment of a cross-cultural romance between Vincent
and white urbanite Elizabeth Ashton (Cate Blanchett). The series'
ability to negotiate issues of cultural and political sensitivity
was significantly dependent on Dingo's skills and magnetic screen
Dingo has been acclaimed by some as one of Australia's finest contemporary
actors. In addition, he has established a place as a major figure
in extending mainstream awareness and understanding of Aboriginal
DINGO. Born in 1956. Began career as part of the Middar Aboriginal
Dance Theatre, 1978; had various stage roles; in television from
1985; appearances in episodes of The Flying Doctors, Relative
Merits, Rafferty's Rules, The Dirtwater Dynasty, and GP;
in film from 1985; currently host of travel magazine television
series, The Great Outdoors. Recipient: Banff Television Festival
special prize; Australian Film Institute Award, 1990.
1989-93 Fast Forward
1992 Clowning Around
1993 The Great Outdoors
1994-95 Heartbreak High
1985 Cowra Outbreak
1990 A Waltz Through the Hills
1986 The Blue Lightning
Tudawali, 1985; The Fringe Dwellers, 1986; Crocadile
Dundee 2, 1988; Cappuchino, 1988; State of Shock,
1989; Until the end of the world, 1991; Blackfellas,
1993; Mr. Electric, 1993.
Berwyn. "Comedian with a Sting." Australia Now (Canberra,
Wayne. My Kind of People. St Lucia: University of Queensland
van Nunen, Linda. "The Games Ernie Plays." Australian Magazine
(Sydney, Australia), January 1991.