Mark Coles Smith makes history as first Indigenous actor nominated for Gold Logie

It's only taken 65 years, but Mystery Road: Origin star is both humbled and excited to be doing it for his mob.

When Mark Coles Smith heard his name at the Logie Awards announcement in Sydney last month, it soon dawned on him he is the very first First Nations Actor to be nominated for Gold in 65 Years.

It’s an accolade that deserves due recognition on the night.

“I kind of thought ‘Surely I’m not the first?'” he tells TV Tonight.

“Surely Deborah Mailman or Ernie Dingo are amongst the great Indigenous personalities who have gone before me? But no! I’m afraid I’ve come through!

“It’s very, very cool and I think it’s a lovely demonstration of that increasing diversity and an embrace of the multicultural reality of Australia. It’s really lovely to be thrust into the mix.'”

Coles Smith is also nominated for Most Popular Actor and Most Outstanding Actor for his work in Mystery Road: Origin, which itself has six nominations including in Popular / Outstanding Drama categories.

Rising to the echelons of Australian television is not lost on the young actor who got his start when a TV production rolled into Broome in 2003.

“The first thing I ever did was a kid’s afternoon TV show called Ocean Star which they shot in my hometown. That was when I was about 14. So it’s sort of 20 years now in the game,” he recalls.

His casting in Mystery Road: Origin was enough to prompt one prediction from one of his peers.

“Hunter Page-Lochard told me a year ago this was going to happen if I did Mystery Road. He said, ‘You’re gonna get a Logie.’ I said ‘I better, because the whole franchise is used to getting Logies. I can’t drop the ball!'”

“This wave of blak excellence.”

“The Australian industry is quite small and the Indigenous aspect of it is an even smaller slice of the pie. We all know each other and are so supportive. It’s such a wonderful chapter in the Australian media landscape to see this collage of incredibly talented blak excellence, demonstrating the last couple of decades of investment, agency and encouragement through Screen Australia, ABC Indigenous. All the fruits of all that investment are coming to the fore. We’ve now got people like Dylan Rivers, amazing Indigenous directors, we’ve got incredible Indigenous writers now and comedians.

“It’s so lovely and and it’s really inspiring and exciting to be in the mix. Not just for the Gold, but as a part of this wave of blak excellence.”

Sunday will even be Coles Smith’s first ever Logie event.

“I don’t do the Logies, but when I do, I get nominated for Gold!” he joked.

“This will be my first experience of the Logies phenomenon. I’ve done the AACTAs. I’ve had multiple nominations and landed my first win late last year while suffering a break out of chicken pox. I found out I had chicken pox when I woke up the next morning.

“I’ve got a Helpmann Award, and a AACTA Award so fingers crossed…

“I’m looking forward to it. I heard it’s a lot of fun and quite long.”

Who does he view as the biggest competition?

“I feel like Hamish Blake has got the momentum on his side, and probably got a really large audience and social media presence. So just off those numbers alone, he’s really looking good. Within my own network, I’d love to see Leigh Sales acknowledged for her contribution to Australian media,” he continues.

“I don’t feel like the apprentice should be overtaking the master just yet.”

In a nod to his Mystery Road parody sketches on Mad as Hell he adds, “I have a massive soft spot for Shaun Micallef. He prepared me for my success! I don’t feel like the apprentice should be overtaking the master just yet. It’s not the first time Shaun’s been up for Gold. It would be cool to see him take it home. I don’t know what he’d use it for… some kind of decorative ornament somewhere in his house, maybe.

“It’s good competition all the way around. It’s gonna be violent. Let there be blood!”

Voting for the TV Week Logie Awards continues here.

63rd TV Week Logie Awards Red Carpet 7pm / Ceremony 7:30pm Sunday on Seven

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