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Leah Purcell


Leah Purcell is one of Australia’s leading actors, writers, and directors with award-winning roles across all mediums.

She is a proud Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri woman from QLD.

The Drover’s Wife The Legend Of Molly Johnson is Leah’s debut feature film which premiered at SXSW as part of their Narrative Spotlight programme in March 2021. The film is directed by and written by Leah, co-produced by her production company Oombarra Productions, and sees Leah star in the leading role of Molly Johnson. Her previous adaptations of The Drover’s Wife include the multi-award winning theatrical play which was a sell-out success at Belvoir St Theatre, and the novel which is currently available through Penguin Random House.

Leah’s extensive career has seen her in leading roles in the TV series Police RescueRedfern Now, and Janet King. She is currently playing the main role of Rita Connors in Foxtel / Fremantle’s internationally acclaimed series Wentworth, where she was nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Television Series at the AACTA Awards.

Notable theatrical performances include Marriage of Figaro (QTC) opposite Geoffrey Rush, Neil Armfield’s Stuff Happens (Company B); Parramatta Girls (Company B), The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table (Griffin Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, QPAC) Michael Attenborough’s When the Rain Stops Falling (Almeida Theatre, London); and Bell Shakespeare’s 20th Anniversary production of King Lear.

Off-camera Leah has written for Black Chicks Talking (stage play and documentary), My Place (ABC), Redfern Now (ABC), Ready for This (ABC/Blackfella Films), and was the indigenous story consultant for Love Child (Nine/Playmaker). Her directing credits include Black Chicks Talking (stage play & documentary); 7 Stages of Grieving (Sydney Theatre Co, ED Program 2008), Redfern Now (ABC), Don’t Take Your Love to Town (Company B), Cleverman (Goalpost/ABC) and was the set-up director on the series The Secret Daughter (Seven Network/Screentime) and My Life is Murder (Network Ten/CJZ).

In addition to The Drover’s Wife, Leah’s self-devised pieces have seen her work created and performed all over the world. She conceived and co-wrote Box the Pony which was the smash hit of the 1997 Festival of the Dreaming and went on to play to sell-out seasons at Belvoir S. Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, the 1999 Edinburgh Festival and a season at the Barbican Theatre in London 2000. The published text of the play won the 1999 NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the 2000 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Play.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.