Originally from the Sunshine Coast, Michelle Law came to know and love West End when her brother, writer Benjamin Law, moved here after a childhood growing up beachside.
It was not long before Michelle herself moved to the area, and though she has since moved on, she is still entrenched in the 4101 community. “I just always saw it as home away from home,” she says. For the past four years she has worked a few days a week at the Avid Reader.
A young, accomplished and incredibly potent writer, Michelle is not afraid to explore subjects that others avoid, using her killer comedic edge, passion for writing and straight up talent. Reading through a random selection of her writing — from the Sydney Morning Herald to the Griffith Review and Women of the Letter — her list of published work is impressive. The conversational style pieces with her brother Benjamin are witty, satirical and unafraid. The power of Michelle Law’s mind is uncannily hidden behind an incredibly sweet façade.
Those who have seen or heard about the new SBS television program, The Family Law, may already be familiar with Michelle. The hilarious, breakthrough and highly regarded television show is based on her brother Benjamin’s book and is being heralded for bringing diversity to the small screen. “I got to meet Vivien who plays me,” says Michelle. “She’s really cute and funny and I think I got off easiest because I’m the youngest and I’m 10 in the show so I didn’t really get up to much then.”
To watch yourself and your family’s dramas aired on television cannot be easy! “There are moments when I’m watching it and it just feels like I’m watching a show and then of course there’s a scene or something that reminds me a situation that happened when we were growing up and I’m like ‘oh, yeah, it is a show about us’,” Michelle says.
Benjamin and Michelle have published a book together, called Shit Asian Mothers Say. When it comes to editing, there are distinct benefits in working with a sibling. “We are pretty cut throat and unsentimental,” says Michelle. “It makes it easier to collaborate because you know how the other one works.”
The future looks bright for Michelle, who is currently busy with a number of projects. “I’m working a script for a feature film and I just finished the second draft of a play that I’m working on. [The play] is called Single Asian Female and it’s a family black comedy about mothers and daughters and the labels that you get assigned by others as well as yourself and how you try to shed those as you get older.” The play has been commissioned by La Boite Theatre and will be played hopefully next year. “I am really into acting, so I’m hoping I can weasel my way into it!” Ultimately though, this young, talented writer wants to move into television writing. With talent like this rising through the ranks, Australia’s cultural future looks exciting.
Words by Alice Thompson | Images by SBS, Ben King