On the Couch with Emma J Hawkins

Emma J HawkinsWho is Emma J Hawkins?
My stage name is the Divine MissEm. I am a little out of the box, a little off the wall and I am actually very little. I’m a short statured person who stands at just 105cm. But I’ve never wanted to be normal because as I see it that would be quite boring. I love laughing, laughing in the face of adversity and at the absurdities at life. Life is not a dress rehearsal and I’ve always lived it that way. I’d rather regret doing things than not doing them. I really take pleasure in challenging people notions about who I am, in my mind difference is something to be proud of and not pitied!

What would you do differently to what you do now?
If I could talk to my younger self I would just tell her to relax a little, she worked awfully hard trying to prove to the world that she could make it in this crazy profession. There is nothing wrong with saying you can’t do something, making mistakes are only a learning curve. I would have had a quiet word to her about appropriate men to date (but she probably wouldn’t have listened anyway) and that good crazy person is just around the corner…

Who inspires you and why?
My parents have always inspired me, they have always been my rock and they have taught me the best things in life, how to be a good person and that anything is possible. I admire all the amazing independent theatre makers in Australia. I know how difficult this world can be, exhausting and frustrating at times but I think the most innovative and interesting work is coming from here.

What would you do to make a difference in the world? 
The world that is most important to me is Performing Arts and specifically Disability in the Arts. So this is where I make my difference I am artistic director of my own company Atypical Theatre Company, which is all about creating high quality theatre productions for artists with and without a disability. I have toured worked nationally and internationally under this banner, for example the critically acclaimed One More Than One. I have always believed that the Performing Arts should be accessible to all, audiences and performers alike. Art for me is like air and water, essential to living.

Favourite holiday destination and why?  
I love country getaways at home here in Australia, getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Australia has so many lovely places right here on our door step. I like to slow down and unwind on my holidays as my creative life can be so chaotic. My ideal location would be a secluded beach hut with a suitcase full of books, I’m not sure how my boyfriend would feel about this…

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?  
My local café because I love good coffee and even better food. A road trip down the Great Ocean Road. Take them to one of Melbourne’s great festivals or to the theatre because these show the real heart of my home city!

What are you currently reading?  
My favourite author of all time is Agatha Christie, I am somewhat of a murder mystery expert. Most recently I have been reading the Game of Thrones books –  I am admittedly quite addicted to the tv series.

What are you currently listening to?
My favourite artists at the moment are Paloma Faith and I have created one of my favourite acts around her track Broken Doll. I am also a fan of Sia and grew up listening to the greats like Bette Midler, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn.

Happiness is?
Good family, good friends, good food and even better coffee! Someone to share the happiness with, someone who lets you be as ridiculous as you need to be. Being able to be free to be yourself and do whatever makes you happy, living a life full of craziness and passion.

What does the future hold for you?
One never really knows does one, but that is always the exciting bit!! I would like to finish my Accounting course and start working in that field, yes I know a creative who is good with figures, it’s possible. Keep creating challenging and interesting artistic work. And there will always be shenanigans. Just because I love that word…

Emma J Hawkins is a short statured performer; and has a bag of tricks bigger than herself.  She has been seen in numerous theatre productions, most recently playing Heidi Hood in Windmill’s Big Bad Wolf. She also played Fleck in Love Never Dies (nominated Green Room Award), CircusOz, King Lear, The Maids and Volpone (Sydney Theatre Company).

Emma has created and performed in her own award winning dance piece One More Than One through Atypical Theatre Company, and her alter ego The Divine MissEm has been involved in many events, festivals, cabaret and burlesque shows. Emma sees performing as a way of challenging herself and audiences alike to think outside the square… her first memory on stage is of chasing a boy with a frying pan!

Emma was a recipient of Australia Council for the Arts Artist with a Disability Funding in 2014 which has led to the premiere of her autobiographical show, I am not a Unicorn! at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as part of Darebin Arts’ Speakeasy from 31 March to 18 April. For more information, visit: www.darebinarts.com.au/speakeasy for details.

Image: Emma J Hawkins – photo by John McKay