On the Couch with Emma Palmer

Ensemble-Theatre-Emma-PalmerWho is Emma Palmer?
Ha! Who is Emma Palmer?! That sounds like an existential question I would ask myself about my character in the dark doom of week 3 of rehearsals! I am an actress, writer and presenter, based in Sydney and originally from Melbourne. Most of my career has been on the stage, but I’m most recognisable as a presenter on the ABCs Play School. And if I am honest, when I am goofing around and having a fun time in a Play School segment, that’s me, that’s Emma. Just with more swearing!

What would you do differently from what you do now?
If I wasn’t an actor?? Hmmmm… well like many actors I do other things to supplement my creative life. And at times that work has taken on a life of its own. I get as much satisfaction from delivering professional communication skills training as I do from acting. But would I have found myself in that work had it not been for acting?? I’ll never know. But if I’m honest, I’d always wanted to be an actor. I never really entertained any other possibilities. And if it all goes to hell in a handbag, you may find me running my own deli one day.

Who inspires you and why?
Two of my favourite actors are Julia Louis Dreyfus and Connie Britton. I think JLD can do anything. She’s achingly funny. And when you watch outtakes and interviews, she’s clearly so prepared but holy hell is she having a good time doing it all! She doesn’t take herself too seriously and so there’s a spark and an aliveness to her work that I find exciting. And Connie Britton I think is wonderful as she is effortless in both comedy and drama. I love doing both genres and everything in between and I think she wonderful the way she disappears into her characters. In terms of Australian actors, I love Rose Byrne, she is wonderfully and effortlessly funny.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Well, that’s a big one. There’s lots obviously, but one thing I do feel very passionate about is equipping young women with the confidence and self-belief to take up their space in the world. And any big change must start small, right? One thing I try to role model on Play School is having fun and being silly. Did I mention start small?!

But I feel from a young age, girls are told they have to behave and conform while the boys have all the fun. Why is that? We can be silly too. We can be funny. So, I try and role model that. Because if we have the confidence to be silly and have fun as girls, then maybe we’ll have the confidence to take up our space as teenagers and then demand that space as women.

Obviously, the movement is well on the way and far more complex than that, but I know from my own experience we’re not there yet. I also use the skills I have from the professional development training I do to work with young women in high schools, teaching them those skills in preparation for the workplace. So, a brighter more balanced future for girls, amongst other things.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Pre kids I loved an adventure holiday. Backpack on my back exploring places like Vietnam or Morocco. But that’s less fun with small kids! Now I dream of beach holidays and cocktails. Dream being the operative word… my partner and I are terrible at planning ahead – we’re both actors. But when we do get organised, a house down at Callala Beach with board games, bike rides and fish and chips on the beach will do the trick.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Coogee to Bondi walk with a beer at Clovelly Bowling club halfway to show off the views. A wander through the botanical gardens, finishing at the Opera House, again showing off the views. A chai at Addison Rd markets. A trip to the fish markets and a long Sunday cook-up at home after that!

What are you currently reading?
My script! But aside from that… I am finally reading a book I was given for Christmas called Love Stories by Trent Dalton. It’s a beautiful insight into how we love and who we love.

What are you currently listening to?
Honestly… a parenting book! In a desperate quest for answers! Am I doing it right??!! Probably not. I always end up saying “We’re gonna mess them up one way or another, but let’s just love them intensely along the way!”

Happiness is?
Simpler than I think we all think it is. For me, slow Sundays with my loves, Rob, Anouk and Jed.

What does the future hold for you?
I don’t know. Honestly, I feel a shift on the horizon, but I have no idea what that is. I’m hopeful it’s a good one! Always hopeful! I’ve no doubt it’s a creative one. I learnt one thing many years ago and that’s if 6 months goes by and I am not being creative in some way then I’m a misery. So, whatever it is, it will have a creative element to it. I’ve been thinking I want to learn to play piano and it’s never too late to learn something new. So maybe I will inflict that on my aforementioned loves. Ha!

Emma stars as Jane in Michael Frayn’s Benefactors – currently playing at the Ensemble Theatre until 22 July 2023. For more information, visit: www.ensemble.com.au for details.

Image: Emma Palmer (supplied)