Following International Women’s Day, we sat down with NIDA Producer, Diane Misirdjieff, to discuss what the day means to her and how she is helping our students find their artistic voice.
I was born, bred, went to uni and started my arts career in Adelaide.
In addition to going to shows and movies – reading, walking, Pilates, playing the piano, listening to mystery audio tapes and, although I never get time now, knitting
Favourite play or movie:
On the stage, I do love a Shakespeare – possibly Twelfth Night although Iago and Richard are great villains! With movies, I have a wide enjoyment, but favourites include Once Were Warriors and Blade Runner.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To me, it means getting together with a particular group of women – we meet up regularly and share lots of interesting events. In fact, all of our outings are a reminder of how interesting and diverse women are, as we come from all types of backgrounds.
It’s a time to contemplate and be grateful for where I am – for education, a career, family, friends, freedom and relative safety, things I can take for granted but for which many women cannot.
As an an accomplished producer, what advice do you have for the next generation of girls/women trying to get into a similar field? And what were some of the challenges you faced while breaking into the industry?
To take every opportunity that presents itself and make the most of it – sometimes there is serendipity in unlikely things and one thing or person leads to another. Also, being prepared to work hard and get involved, don’t sit on the sidelines, and show that you are excited and interested. And I think there is strength in finding out who you are and being true to it – personally I am a quiet person and it took me time to find how to be confident and still show strength and capability.
When I started out, the challenges were about not getting closed in to one pathway… you were recognised as a such and such in this part of the industry and there was discouragement when you would try something else. It took a lot of convincing to be given chance to jump from say theatre to film or to opera. It is more accepted that people are more flexible and adaptable now and I think it is seen as a healthy thing to have broader experience.
Who’s your most inspiring woman in the arts and why?
I am not sure I have a most inspiring – I love working alongside other women, especially on a collaborative project. One woman I greatly enjoyed working with recently was Sandra Willis who was the Executive Producer on The Rabbits – her commitment and drive to make a new work happen was inspiring, impressive and infectious.
What do you think has been the biggest step forward for women in the arts, over the past 10 years?
There are more of us in more varied fields. When I began working, women in some areas like directing for example, were rare and usually not prominent in the mainstream. Whilst I still find challenges, as a production manager especially, I do think there are less assumptions made about your abilities based on gender.
NIDA’s main goal is to help our students find their artistic voice. How do you think you help NIDA achieve this, in your role as Producer?
I hope by being me and bringing my experience from all of the sectors of the arts I have been lucky enough to work in. In my work as Producer, I aim to be able to give the students the space to learn whilst providing them with a safety net in terms of putting in place all of the organisation support for the productions. And, as projects become more mixed in form, I still think there’s lots for me to learn too, in so many evolving areas like copyright and contracts – to learn and to feed back.
You can view more NIDA Women interviews here.