Uma Kali Shakti

Name: Uma Kali Shakti a.k.a Aunty Uma

Creative practice/s: Actor, Performer, Director, Producer, Writer, Theatre Maker, Filmmaker

Postcode: 2204

Suburb or city: Marrickville. NSW

Do you identify as disabled and/or Deaf and/or with disability?


Other identity/ies?

BWOC/Dyke/Working class/Elder

Why do you do what you do?

I grew up with traditional oral storytelling - my favourite memories are lying on a bed under a mosquito net while Mum held me in her arms firing my imagination as she related tales of magic & excitement from long ago! As soon as I could read & discovered libraries I was addicted. Later I fell in love with Shakespeare and learned about the art of theatre, drama & performance. I knew that I wanted to be part of this amazing world, loosing myself in it - not having to deal with the reality of my own childhood filled with abuse & domestic violence as well as other forms of oppression.
And it is ultimately this commitment to honour my creativity that saved my sanity and my life. I am a wordsmith, storyteller and a teacher.


What are you looking for?

Paid Work Only, more funding, directing/producing training, production team building, a more level playing field, world creative revolution, better access to classes and spaces etc


What’s still with you from the workshops? What do you remember?

Being not only in a room full of enthusiastic talented artists, who all happened to have a range of disabilities but also to have the opportunity to be able to all play together.

What’s the legacy for you - creatively or with contacts?

Aside from lots of wonderful, empowering memories plus having the opportunity to make contacts which later lead to the formation of the "Do-Ability Divas". We went on to perform both at Sydney Fringe Festival 2018 and at a University of Newcastle conference on the brain. We have continued to work together on other projects including "Crips & Creeps" Comedy Night and Shopfront Theatre.

What makes a good workshop for you?

One in which the workshop leadership is empathetic, accessible and experienced in effective skill sharing, while empowering and encouraging participants to fully participate

The arts industry and you - how do you feel about where you are professionally? Where would you like to be?

Currently though I'm actively involved in the industry, I am not usually paid for my work as a writer, director, producer or filmmaker. In fact I usually have to fund my projects myself!
Even when I apply for grants and very occassionally have been somewhat successful, often there are no components in the grant that enable me to even financially reinburse myself let alone actually earn anything!
However occassionally I do get paid as an actor in commercial work including for government & non-government organisations etc. But this work is not only few and far between but also not regular. I do have agent but even they don't succeed in obtaining me paid work!
I do recognise that this is normal for most artists in Australia. But I feel that this must change as the best talented artists usually relocate overseas. It is only if and when we are recognised and successful on an international basis are we respected, acknowledged and paid for our work back in Australia. Alternatively many artists who can not sustain living indefinitely on limited budgets, try to secure conventional paid word while forsaking their creative work - which is a huge loss for Australia and the world!!
Meanwhile I have only been able to really pursue my creative endeavours in a major way, once I got social housing and a pension as a senior - late in life but possible at long last! I would like to be paid for my creative work in whatever role and medium possible e.g. a tv or web series which reflect the muliplicitious reality of my life.