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She may be only be in Year 3, but Penelope Towney is already making a huge splash in the world of filmmaking and now has her sights set on becoming a famous YouTuber.

Penelope is considered to be Australia’s youngest First Nations filmmaker having produced her own film, The Land We’re On, last year aged just seven, which screened on SBS and NITV to great acclaim. The proud Wiradjuri and Palawa girl will be flying the flag high for the upcoming Naidoc Week 2022 on July 3-10 and also wants to inspire kids to start dreaming big and achieving from a young age. This year’s NAIDOC theme – Get UP! Stand Up! Show Up! encourages Australia to keep rallying around Elders and the First Nations community whilst advocating for change.

“I’ve been making films on my iPad for as long as I can remember and really love doing voice overs,” she says. “I love acting and performing and one day, I’d even love to try voice acting. I think there should be a Disney First Nations animation film like there was with Moana and Polynesian culture, about my people retelling our dreaming. It would be my absolute dream to be able to share my voice on something like that. That would make me feel very ‘dyiramadilinya’ – proud.”

The Wainora Public School student, from the NSW South Coast, says there were a lot of challenges, making the film. “I really pushed myself practising my lines almost every day for a couple of months. To make it fun, I would put on a funny voice whilst practising to help me remember lines. By the end I could memorise my speech off by heart from start to finish, with no palm cards.”

Penelope has always had a strong sense of self since young. “Who I am and where I come from means everything to me. We learn many languages at school, but I think it’s really important and respectful to learn the language and customs of the places where we live and learn. Yindyamarra – or respect is mununbidhibaana – very big to me.”

Now Penelope’s next big goal is to have her own YouTube channel. “I really want to be a YouTuber – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but Mum always said I have to do it properly with the right equipment. Once it’s up I’ll share my knowledge on my channel but also lots of funny stuff.”

Last school holidays Penelope did the YouTube Creators Camp with Code Camp and loved every second of it. In the three-day camp, kids aged 8-13 learn about planning, storytelling, filming and video editing using professional editing software to cut together footage and add music, chroma key backgrounds, video effects and transitions.

“What I really loved the most was the editing process and then watching my clip back again. There was lots to learn and it was really fun. The teachers were really nice and so were my classmates.”

As for the future, Penelope says she has a ton of big dreams. “I really want to be an actor, film maker and YouTuber. Also, I’d love to be a scientist, writer and even the Prime Minister! People have told me I’d make a really great gabun – prime minister and leader as I really care about the land, my culture, community and yindyamarra. I have really big dreams and I’ll try my best to achieve them all.”

Click here to watch Penelope’s short film The Land We’re On.

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  • Wow. I hope she never loses that motivation to make her life what she wants.

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  • Penelope for PM has a nice ring to it. Love that she’s empowering other kids to dream big

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  • Good on her on having big dreams. She is one to watch out for!

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  • Good to see little people with big dreams. I hope she goes far

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  • Encouraging young people with their creative pursuits is so important.

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  • What an amazing kid! She must have great parents who know how to help her develop her skills.

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  • She’s quite realistic about her ambitions – knows what she needs to do.

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  • What a clever and smart girl she is her family must be so proud of her achievements

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  • wow – will be great to see what she does next!

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  • What a great achievement at such a young age good on her. I just hope though she has time to actually be a kid and enjoy her youth
    She has another 60 years ahead of her to worry about work!!

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  • She is utterly incredible

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  • Wow, this is impressive and very inspiring indeed !

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  • AMAZING work Penelope! If you put your mind to something you can do anything

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  • I love her ambitious attitude! You go, girl!

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  • Go Penelope! Such big dreams and an amazing mindset

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