Australian Indigenous actor Ningali Lawford-Wolf has died at the age of 52 in Edinburgh, Scotland, while touring with the stage production of The Secret River.
The Sydney Theatre Company (STC) confirmed the passing of Ms Lawford-Wolf today, saying the award-winning actor passed away on Sunday, August 11.
“We have lost one of Australian theatre’s greatest treasures,” the STC said in a joint statement with Ms Lawford-Wolf’s family.
“Ningali was an incredibly talented performer, as well as a wonderfully caring and thoughtful person.”
She is well known across Australia for her roles in the films Rabbit-Proof Fence, Bran Nue Dae, and Last Cab to Darwin.
Ms Lawford-Wolf was a Wangkatjunka woman born under a tree at Christmas Creek Station in the far-north Kimberley region of Western Australia.
She won awards for her one-woman theatre show Ningali, as well as for productions of Aliwa, Uncle Vanya and Jandamarra.
Ms Lawford-Wolf had been involved in the development of The Secret River for the STC, and was performing in the show at the Edinburgh Festival at the time of her passing.
Managing cattle station to help ‘our mob’
Offstage, Ms Lawford-Wolf had recently become involved in the development of the cattle industry in the Kimberley.
She was a director of the Indigenous-owned Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company, which took control of more than 700,000 hectares of cattle country earlier this year.
As well as being born on a cattle station, Ms Lawford-Wolf’s family worked on and managed Kimberley Stations for generations.
She told the ABC she saw her role as a chance to improve opportunities for the Kimberley’s traditional owners.
“To be able to manage our business and create jobs, and I suppose get a piece of the pie, that will socially and economically bring up our cattle capacity and our mob,” she said.
“We’re only small, but we’re starting out, plus we’ve got a very good idea of our country.”