Leah Purcell is one of Australia’s leading actors, with award-winning roles in theatre, film and television. She has a loyal audience following, admired and loved for the warmth and honesty she brings to her performances.
Her first professional break came in 1993 when she was cast in Bran Nue Dae, which toured Australia to rave reviews. After moving to Sydney in 1995, she was one of the first presenters on the RED Music Channel on Galaxy Pay TV (later Foxtel). A role in the main cast of ABC TV’s Police Rescue followed and in 1997 she was nominated for an Australian Film Industry (AFI) award for Best Actress in a TV Drama for her performances in Fallen Angels.
Leah conceived and co-wrote Box the Pony which was the smash hit of the 1997 Festival of the Dreaming and has since played to sell-out seasons at the Belvoir St. Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, the 1999 Edinburgh Festival and a season at the Barbican Theatre in London for BITE: 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. Purcell was nominated at the inaugural 2001 Sir Robert Helpmann Awards for Best Female Actor in a play for her performance in Box the Pony.
In September 2000 Leah received fabulous reviews for her performance in the Olympic Arts Festival’s production of Marriage of Figaro, staged at the Sydney Opera House in which she played the role of ‘Suzanne’. She had previously performed in this production in Queensland, opposite Geoffrey Rush.
Leah starred in the feature film Lantana, along with Geoffrey Rush and Anthony La Paglia as part of an outstanding ensemble cast. The film, produced by Jan Chapman, directed by Ray Lawrence, and written by Andrew Bovell, scooped the 2001 Australian Film Industry (AFI) Awards, winning five awards including Best Film. Leah was awarded the 2001 Independent Film-maker award (IF) for Best Actress jointly with the other female leads on Lantana.
She performed the off-Broadway hit The Vagina Monologues with Brooke Satchwell and Tracey Mann in 2001 and 2002. In 2002 Leah also performed in Dorothy
Hewitt’s final play Nowhere at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. The following year 2003 saw her perform in the feature films Lennie Cahill Shoots Through and the multi-award winning Somersault.
Leah was acclaimed in Beasty Girl: The Secret Life of Errol Flynn at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 2003. She recently won a Green Room award (2004) for Best Actress for her work in this play – the latest in an extraordinary list of achievements by this accomplished performer.
In 2004 Leah was also in Nick Cave’s latest film The Proposition with John Hurt, Emily Watson, Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone and David Gulpilil.
2005 was no less of a year. Leah shot the feature film Jindabyne directed once again by Ray Lawrence, starring Gabriel Byrne, Laura Linney, John Howard and Deborah Lee Furness, and straight off the heels of doing the above, Leah began rehearsals for one of the most challenging roles of her career as the then National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, in David Hare’s play Stuff Happens for Company B, Belvoir St Theatre. The play was directed by Neil Armfield and toured to Melbourne for a season at the Comedy Theatre after performing a very successful season at The Seymour Centre in Sydney. In September 2005, Leah won the Deadly Award for ‘Actor of the Year 2005‘ for her portrayal of this role (Condeleeza Rice in Stuff Happens).
In late 2005, Leah was shortlisted from 120 writers, down to a group of 4, from the NSWFTO New Writers Scheme for her feature film script Netball. This script remains in development and Leah hopes to shoot it in 2007 as a feature.
In January, Leah performed in Stickybricks for the Sydney Festival 2006 at Northcott Estate and in March, Leah went to Adelaide to perform in the new one woman Eve Ensler play, The Good Body, for the 2006 Adelaide Fringe Festival.
After that, Leah went straight to Brisbane to start rehearsals for the Mark O’Rowe play Howie The Rookie, a play she is directing for Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts in association with The Brisbane Powerhouse for April 2006.
In May 2006, Leah was the recipient of the inaugural “Bob Maza Fellowship” award.
She performed the Australian National Anthem at the Anthony Mundine / Danny Green fight at Aussie Stadium and in June 2006 she performed it again at the 2nd State of Origin game between Qld and NSW at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Leah was nominated for a Helpmann Award in 2006 for “Best Actress in a Leading role” for her portrayal of Condeleeza Rice in Stuff Happens, and in August, Leah was nominated for the Deadly Award for Actor of the Year 2006 for her work in the feature film “Jindabyne”.
In 2007, Leah shot the third series of Love My Way for Southern Star, and was one of the leads in the Belvoir St Theatre production of Parramatta Girls, written by Alana Valentine.
In June 2007, Leah was also the director for Reflections: 40 Years and to the Future, a stage play with ACPA at the Cremorne Theatre at QPAC.
Most recently, Leah was the lead in Wesley Enoch’s play The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table at the Griffin Stables Theatre, directed by Marion Potts. She will soon be a part of the Melbourne season at The Malthouse Theatre.
This award winning writer, singer, director and actor was recently nominated for her lead role in The Story of Miracles at Cookie’s Table as Best Actress in a Play for the 2007 Sydney Theatre Awards & 2007 GLUG Theatre Awards.
Sydney Theatre Company has returned 7 Stages of Grieving to their stages for one last time and has asked Leah to direct this timeless classic. Starring Lisa Flanagan this play opened on February 25 to great reviews and to a sold-out season.
Leah will remount her 2007 production of Reflections: 40 Years and to the Future in mid-April 2008 at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC due to popular demand.
Tribeca All Access® | 2008