Matty Mills sure is a go-getter! Literally, in that he sees what he wants and he goes out and gets it, asking questions and challenging the status quo until said quo buckles under the weight of his tenacity and natural- born talent.

During our interview, Mills, a proud Gamilaroi man, shared examples of this tenacity, including telling of his desire to lift himself up from a “rough school’ in Tamworth.

At the tender age of 14, he fought hard for and won a non-existent scholarship from one of the most expensive private schools in the country – all with no money and only the help of his first mentor, Pip!

“Yeah, shout out to Pip!

“Pip and I walk into this boarding school exhibition in Tamworth where a group of boarding schools were pitching to the rich rural families who are going to send their kids away to get this amazing education and here I walk in with Pip, we had no money, I had less than $5 to my name but we went in and talked to these schools!… It was a huge process which lead to me pitching my heart out to the board of Shore.”

Mills is too classy to mention it and it’s not until he is pushed that he admits an impressive legacy – Shore now has an ongoing scholarship program, though he refuses to take any credit for even setting the precedence.

“I now am aware that Shore has linked up with Yalari, which is an organisation that partners with a lot of GPS schools and connects them with indigenous students in rural, regional and remote communities, to provide two scholarships a year. So now every year there are two indigenous kids who get an opportunity to go to Shore.”

Another tenacious moment while at Shore lead to more doors being opened, when Mills sent a letter to playwright Wesley Enoch, requesting assistance with a school assignment!

“I met him 10 years ago, he came to my school and helped me with a play that he had written that I was performing for one of my assessments. He’s just backed me since that moment and he’s been my mentor ever since. He’s just one of these amazing kind heartened, free-spirited, loving and nurturing people.”

It was this connection that lead to another opportunity to work with Enoch, who was the director of Sydney Festival at the time, when he approached Mills with a gig that was hard to pass up – leading the Burrawa Climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“It was a huge eye-opener for even me as an indigenous person to hear these incredible stories and also to re-imagine the landscape pre-colonisation. You have a rough idea of what this place might have looked like but the detail and the sophistication and the relationships between the different tribes is something that I loved learning about.”

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