Meet Emily Havea, Fringe Face for 2018, and One Not to Forget


Emily Havea is PROLIFIC. Yes, she’s one of our Fringe Faces, cutting a sharp look in the Frida Las Vegas x Nicol & Ford power suits, but this is only today’s calling card. An actor on stage and screen (Brown Skin Girl at Griffin Theatre Company, Wentworth on Showcase most recently), a singer (regularly supporting Australian artist Okenyo), a dancer (catch her in Retrosweat), a graphic designer, photographer – Havea knows the importance and value of not limiting yourself to just one avenue in life.

Trained as a professional actor at NIDA, Havea grew tired of waiting for validation from the various gatekeepers in that industry – directors, casting agents, producers – and set out to claim the spacetime to be creative and self-actualising on her own terms.

Image from Brown Skin Girl - Created in collaboration with Black Birds

Image from Brown Skin Girl - Created in collaboration with Black Birds

“I met other fun, interesting people who were striving to make their stuff and I happily put my energy into supporting their creative endeavours,” Havea reflects, “and with the self-belief I started to foster in myself, through others projects, I used that toward my own interests. And then because I was happy and fulfilled in other ways, the acting work began to flow in.”

The chaos of a freelance life, especially one that sees a peacock’s plumage of different feathers in her cap, has led to Havea having a very fluid schedule and pathway around Sydney each week.

“The freelance life is definitely a juggle of schedules, time commitments and public transport,” Havea says, “sometimes I leave the house with a duffle bag full of scripts, costume options and makeup for 3 different projects I’m doing back to back. It can be hectic! But that’s also what I love about my life – I definitely don’t get bored! I can bounce from band rehearsals with Okenyo to a dance event with Retrosweat and then help out on a friend’s short film shoot on any given day!”

For Havea such a thumping, polyphonic life needs balance if she is going to maintain her joy and health.

“Balancing cash jobs with passion projects,” advises Havea, “Know that one begets the other! If you did work for love all the time, you’d become resentful of having no rent for next week. If you did work for cash all the time, you’d begin to desperately crave a creative outlet. A balance of both is necessary.”

Image courtesy of Emily Havea 

Image courtesy of Emily Havea 

In Havea’s eyes Sydney is going through an energising renaissance in defiance of the lock out laws, property overdevelopment, and cuts to arts funding. “What better way to galvanise a city together than to get the fun police to enforce a bunch of rules and regulations? I know of a lot of different people who are finding interesting, fun ways to keep Sydney alive and creating spaces for creatives!”

Havea’s go-to culture chefs include Variety Fair at Cake Wines, Dollar Bin Darlings at The Bearded Tit, Flow Studios in Camperdown, Club Darls Variété at Cafe Lounge, performance collective BlackBirds, street party mavens Heaps Gay, aerobics outfit Retrosweat, Black Girl Magic community gatherings, and the queer performance art of Betty Grumble. Groups, communities, grassroots and underground happenings are helping reshape Sydney’s arts and culture scene, and Havea sees this as a clear place to start for people looking to launch out as artists in town.

“Find your people! Find them and love them and support them. Freelance creative life is full of many highs and consequently, many lows and, being emotional, feeling human beings that we are, having a support network through it all is vital. At times when my self esteem has failed me, I only have to look to my friends to realise my worth either personally or creatively. They challenge me, they encourage me, they call me on my shit and they shout YAS QUEEN loudly when appropriate. Also go see stuff! The fringe is an excellent smorgasbord of different mediums for you to taste and experience and decide what you’re into. So enjoy!”

Follow Emily Havea on instagram 

Words by James Dalton

Sydney Fringe Marketing