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Kyle Shilling smashed Home and Away history as the first Indigenous main actor

Now, he shares his thoughts on the milestone.

Kyle Shilling smashed a major milestone for Channel Seven’s Home and Away when he was signed on to portray Mali Hudson in the chaotic town of Summer Bay.

He was the first Indigenous actor to portray a main character in the soap which has been on air since 1988.

Kyle, 28, joined the H&A cast in early 2023, landing the role of surfer guy Mali who arrived in town as the friend of River Boy, Dean Thompson. Mali quickly became a favourite among fans as he settled into town and even went on to run the local surfboard shop.

The young actor is from the Widjabul clan of the Bandjalung Nation, growing up in Taree and Pottsville in New South Wales.

Speaking on A Bit Rogue podcast with hosts Tori Levett and Skye Sydenham, Kyle reflected on how he felt breaking this H&A milestone.

“It’s important after they’ve had it running for 34, 35 years. Way too long to have an Indigenous person come in as a main role,” he said.  

“I guess it’s been huge, I don’t know, I’ve held it very close to me, considering after so many years, and just having that chance to represent my people on a main TV show, not just nationally, but internationally as well.”

Now making a regular appearance on the drama, there is an “Aboriginal consultant” working behind the scenes with script writers.

Initially, Kyle was offered the opportunity to navigate the culture himself, but denied feeling he wouldn’t be able to “comfortably” navigate “the wider population of Indigenous culture.”

“The script writers, producers and directors always make sure that I’m comfortable with telling the story that I’m telling through Marli when it is related through cultural reasoning or events,” he explained.

“They’re doing really well, considering it’s the first time they’ve had to do it and they’ve taken a bull by the horns and they’re just riding around.”

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