‘I Hope We Don’t Get Shut Out’: Myf Warhurst And Rhonda Burchmore Talk Longevity And Surviving In Showbiz
Myf and Rhonda sat down for a chat and bonded over their shared love of the stage and screen.
Rhonda Burchmore has been thriving in the industry for almost 40 years, despite her dad’s wishes to “get a real job”. From an early age Rhonda has always loved performing.
“I think I was about two and a half when I used to go to dance school and watch my big sister and the other kids in the street,” she told Myf.
“I used to go home and drive mum mad because I’d do the same steps as my sister and the big girls. I knew that minute, I went… I want to do that so bad.”
Auditing for ‘They’re Playing Our Song’, Rhonda got her start on the stage, and for the last 40 years has been working on the stage and screen in the UK and Australia.
Starring in shows on the West End like ‘Sugar Babies’ alongside Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney and the original ‘Hot Shoe Shuffle’ with David Atins, Rhonda has also performed in ‘Guys & Dolls’, Calender Girls, Annnie Get Your Gun as well as the original Aussie production of ‘Mamma Mia!’.
She’s also released an autobiography, five albums, had her own cabaret shows and in 2014 was awarded the OAM for her service to the performing arts.
Myf, meanwhile, started out playing piano and thought that’s where her career would head. After picking up work as a radio host Myf eventually fell into the role as one of the team captains on ABC’s ‘Spicks and Specks’ in 2005.
“I was so in love with music,” she told Rhonda, “I did Triple J for nearly 10 years before television came. And that was all by chance.”
The pair also bonded over how difficult it is to stay in an industry so obsessed with age.
“I’m most proud of… the longevity of sustaining a career in this sh*t business,” Rhonda said before cheersing Myf.
Myf later said, “The entertainment industry is focused on youth. Think about the music industry, it’s about youth. It has always been about youth.
“I hope people like Rhonda, people like me -- just regular, normal folk who are aging -- I hope we can keep working in the industry and we don’t get shut out,” Myf added.
While it’s an unfortunate truth that ageism is still alive and well in the entertainment industry -- an industry that is always making room for younger talent -- it’s also an issue of gender. When women age they find work harder and harder to get, but the same is not always the case for men.
It’s an issue women across the world face -- in all industries.
“We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger,” Dame Helen Mirren famously said back in 2015.
At the 2018 SAG Awards Nicole Kidman used her acceptance speech to pushback on Hollywood’s ageism.
“I want to thank you all for your trailblazing performances you have given over your career and how wonderful it is that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old,” Nicole said.
“I just beg that the industry stays behind us because our stories are finally being told. It's only the beginning, and I'm so proud to be a part of a community that is instigating this change. But I implore the writers, directors, studios, and financiers to put passion and money behind our stories. We have proven that we can do this; we can continue to do this, but only with the support of this industry and that money and passion.”
Back in camp, Myf said she could see minor changes being made to the industry.
“I see more faces, I see more older faces more older women, but it’s still… you see a lot more older men than you do older women on telly and in radio.”
The pair decided to make space for themselves in the industry -- making plans for the Myf and Muff show which 100% needs to happen.