‘I’ve always loved writing stories and I’ve always been drawn towards fantastical stories and comedy. When I grew up I used to get quite frustrated with television because I didn’t see many female characters in the shows I used to watch. I write children’s television shows and I got to a point about a year ago when I had this opportunity to write and I just thought, it’s perfect – maybe I can help make a change – to try to even the playing field.

‘You don’t tend to see a lot of female main characters or even sub-characters on television. The shows tend to be about boy characters that are really great and fantastic and save the day. If it is a girl, they’re usually a sister or they’re in trouble or a bit of a sidekick.

‘It means that young girls don’t learn to see themselves as potential heroes. They think that adventures and journeys are for boys and that they’re maybe supposed to be the sidekicks. If you grow up seeing that message over and over again it must have some sort of impact on you.’

Did you have someone in your life that encouraged you to do what you want to do?

‘I have an awesome mother and also a super awesome grandmother. They’re both very strong women. My mother was a single mum – she’s a poet now. My grandmother was an actress, a director and a model before most women even had jobs. She was one of the first women on television back in Adelaide. I grew up around them and because I was exposed to women like that I never really doubted that I could do the same thing. There are a lot of girls that don’t have that growing up. It’s amazing how much just one role model can change that.’

What advice would you give to young girls?

‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what it is that you love. It’s probably unlikely that people will give you that positive message so you’re going to have to discover the courage within yourself to believe that.’

‘The big change for me was that I lost my dad. It was over two years ago. He was a doctor and he’d been in the same community for over 30 years. He did quite well for himself and he had a lot of stuff and all the things that come with that.

‘But when it was all said and done, the thing that made the biggest impact on me was they had a big memorial for him and they had the biggest hall in our small suburb in Newcastle. I turned up and there were just crowds of people in the streets out the front who couldn’t fit inside.

‘I realised that that’s the only thing you’ve got is the impact you’ve had on other people’s lives. It’s not about all the money that you earned and all those successes and that was just a huge change for me. From that day, I went down this path.

‘Looking at what I’m seeing today shows to me that there is definitely the interest out there for people to be able to come together for many different reasons to express themselves. I just like to bring a little bit of happiness to people’s lives in some way, help the community and be part of it. I hope that then creates a domino effect of people helping each other. Something I’ve always lived by is to be the change in the world you want to see.’

COMMUNE founder, Sam Ali.