Joy Hruby, Producer, Presenter, Actor & Author,
Joy's World & The Dubbo Dazzlers: 27th
Man Australia once again interviews the lady who gave
him a break in the Australian television industry,
this revealing interview, Joy discusses her amazing
career in the Australian entertainment industry.
Greg: How did you get your break?
When I arrived in Sydney from Dubbo in 1946, I enrolled
in the best Drama school in town. This was situated
at the Minerva Theatre in Potts Point, and would have
been the equivalent of NIDA, today, as it was the
only acting establishment funded by the Government.
However, because I was not a returned soldier, I had
to pay my own way, and used to walk to George Street
from King's Cross every morning to save the two penny
first job was in the Box Office in Nicholson's Music
Store. The Box Office was a round counter in the middle
of the shop on the ground floor where they also sold
sheet music and records. Upstairs, overlooking us
on the mezzanine floor, were the grand pianos and
fascinating array of customers included actors, musicians,
singers, ballet dancers and theatre buffs as we sold
tickets to all the live shows . These included the
Tivoli, His Majesty's, the Theatre Royal, the Capitol
, the Elizabethan, the Sydney Town Hall, so I was
lucky enough to get free tickets to just about everything
that was on in town.
course I spent all my spare time at the opera or the
ballet, symphony concerts and stage performances,
or recitals in the Town Hall by visiting celebrities.
Even young Joan Sutherland used to come in to buy
her sheet music, so I got to meet some wonderful people.
I suppose it was a case of being in the right place
at the right time that I was able to hear about the
new shows coming up, and when I finally received my
Diploma from the Whitehall Academy of Dramatic Art,
I was able to join J.C.Williamsons Theatrical Company.
They brought American actors over here to star in
all the plays and big musicals as Australians were
not considered good enough or experienced enough to
play lead roles. So I became involved in the company
that was touring Australia with "Born Yesterday".
I then lived in Melbourne for eight years, working
in theatre and radio.
What is and was the appeal of the entertainment business
It never occurred to me that there was anything else
to do with my life.
entertaining the troops during the Second World War,
I discovered the importance of laughter. I still believe
that the entertainment industry is the most important
industry of all. There are people all over the world
taking themselves too seriously. If there was more
laughing there would be less killing.
How did you put the show into show business?
That's a funny question, Greg.
that you mention the word "business" though,
I must admit that no sooner did I settle down to being
a virtuous housewife with three small children, did
I yearn for the "smell of the grease paint and
the roar of the crowd."
wanting to neglect my babies in any way, I started
a Children's Theatrical Agency whereby I could keep
my finger on the pulse of the industry and obtain
work for young people. From then on, I was able to
immerse myself in the industry by writing, directing,
producing, and supplying hundreds of background artists
for some of Australia's biggest and best movies.
What makes a good actor?
There is no cut and dried answer to that one.
acting ability is not enough, and all the training
in the world will not turn you into a good actor if
you don't have that natural ability in the first place.
actor must love acting. He must be able to throw himself
into the character and believe in himself. He must
be able to convince the audience that he is that character.
He must have tremendous discipline of body and mind.
He must respect his fellow actors. He must respect
the work of the writer, the producer, the stagehands,
in fact, the whole ensemble of talent that makes up
a show. Above all, he must be able to take direction,
whether he agrees with his director or not.
you see much of the actor's success depends upon the
attitude he brings to his work.
What makes a good TV presenter?
Training and experience is important for a TV presenter.
He must be able to relate to his viewers with a friendly
approach and convince them that what he is saying
technique is very important and takes time to learn.
all, a good speaking voice is essential. Diction should
be clear and distinct, the tone pleasant and the voice
well modulated and controlled.
are different kinds of presentation, of course., the
newsreader is different from an interviewer or a story-teller,
and a cooking demonstrator is different from a comedian.
goes without saying that neat dressing and good looks
Why is it important to collaborate with other good
people in the business?
You cannot do it alone. We all depend on one another
for the success of everything we do in show business.
We are always seeking out people who are experts in
their own field. Co-operation is what it's all about.
What motivated you to write your amazing book?
was in Dubbo during the Second World War and we lived
and breathed the war, as did everybody in the whole
of Australia. After all, we lost more men in that
war by ratio of the population than America or England
or any other country.
when I heard a young person laughingly say that Dubbo
would not have known there was a war on, I got really
mad and decided to tell my story.
Who has been most supportive of you over the years?
Definitely my sister Frances. My mother was very ill
when I was born, and Frances, my older sister, practically
brought me up. All my life she has been supportive
and encouraging in every way. She has been my sounding
board, my Wailing Wall, my counselor, my adviser and
she still is. Through all the ridiculous crazy things
I've done in my life, the successes, the failures,
the highs, the lows, she has listened, but never criticized.
What were the highlights of Channel 31?
For some years before Channel 31 began transmission,
I had been making TV programs from a basement in a
Housing Commission complex in Redfern. Our team made
regular live-to-air shows exclusively for the viewing
of the tenants in the units.
Imagine how exciting it was for our crew when we joined
up with Channel 31 which was broadcasting all over
Sydney as far as the Blue Mountains, Woollongong and
difficult to pinpoint any particular highlights, as
every week brought a fresh face, a new concept, a
creative idea that may or may not have worked. At
least we gave everybody a chance of getting out there
and doing it.
that we know what people want to see, we have consolidated
some of our ideas into a pretty good format.
Who are some of the people that you helped in the
Channel 31 circles, in your career?
I think a multitude of people have been helped in
different ways. For instance, many people have been
able to have a go at being in front of a camera in
a pseudo-professional studio environment and have
been able to decide whether to continue, or whether
to give it a miss. Others have been able to concentrate
on honing their technical skills and have been able
to go into the professional world with confidence.
are lots of people out there making movies and working
on television who started off on our show.
Healy began working in the control room while he was
still at school, and is now a producer for Channel
7. Rishi Shukla is an editor for the ABC. Joe Fenech
is a cameraman with SBS, to name but a few.
What have been some of your favourite roles via the
I've worked extensively over the years with the ABC,
mostly supplying children and actors. Admittedly,
I've done quite a bit in front of the camera myself
through my own agent.
my favorite roles would be Aunty Beryl in"Menotti",[the
series about the priest played by Ivor Kantz] and
the part of Sister Polycarp in "Brides of Christ".
recently, I enjoyed working on the late night show
"Double the Fist" where I did some amazing
looking stunts such as sliding down a driveway on
my belly, and riding in a wheely bin down a hill.
You worked with Bryan Brown earlier in his career
did you realize he was going to 'make it" big
Playing Bryan's mother in his first movie, "Love
Letters from Teralba Road" was an interesting
experience. He was so laconic and "laid back"
in that very Australian way reminiscent of the famous
old actor, the long and lanky Chips Rafferty.
the time, I was producing a pilot for a surfie movie
called "Surf Dreams". It was about a young
boy who runs away from home to follow his idol, a
champion surfer. We had already cast 12 year old Robert
Bettles, who had played the lead in two Walt Disney
movies, "Ride a Wild Pony" and "Born
to Run" and had chosen for the romantic interest
a lovely young actress, Jane Vallis, from "Picnic
at Hanging Rock". We had pretty much decided
on a promising actor for the lead role before I met
Bryan, but by the time I had finished "Love Letters",
I was convinced that he would be better than the guy
we had chosen.
writer and my co-producers were totally against using
Bryan for the part, as he was quite unknown and not
their idea of a leading man.
last I was able to convince them. We found a tall
professional surfer to double the difficult surf scenes
for Bryan, and went to work.
We then presented what we considered to be a brilliant
pilot to Film Australia, where Donald Crombie, the
famous director, was on the assessment panel.
rejected our film, but Donald Crombie spotted Bryan
Brown's work and snapped him up for the next feature
he was directing in Queenskand called "The Irishmen".
And so began Bryan Brown's brilliant career.
Some of your family are also in the entertainment
business. Tell us a little about that.
: I suppose because they were brought up in the business,
it was natural for them to persue careers where they
My son , Frank, had lots of jobs as a child actor,
but when he grew up decided he would prefer to be
behind the camera. He now works on the crew of big
movies such as 'The Thin Red Line","Mission
Impossible" and "Matrix".
eldest daughter Janette, also worked on commercials,
films, and television as an actress and model when
she was a child. However, as she grew up, she realized
that she had no desire to be an actress, and preferred
to travel around with the crew as a top, much sought
on the other hand, never thought of doing anything
but acting. She started acting and doing voice-overs
at the age of seven, and has continued most successfully
to this day. Her credits include "Seven Little
Australians" "The Sullivans" "Prisoner"
and far too many others to mention here, her most
recent work being "Home and Away" and "Fireflies".
What press covering have you received?
I have never pursued press coverage for myself, although
I have had articles and pictures in various papers
and magazines over the years.
have often rung me for quotes on controversial subjects
such as Child welfare problems and racial discrimination
or even crooked agents.
How does the Internet assist you?
It took me a long time to gain my computer skills,
bur now I love to spend time communicating with my
crew and my friends, doing research for my writing
What are your current projects?
I have three more books to write, and of course I
am still continuing to shoot "Joy's World".
Even though it is not being seen in Sydney at the
moment, we are sending it down to Melbourne.
What motivates you?
Every morning I spend a quiet time talking to God
and writing down a list of challenges for the day.
It gives me a big thrill to cross out things as I
What keeps you so young at heart?
Working with young people. Living a life of thanksgiving
for the past. Planning for the future.
What's your motto?
SHOW MUST GO ON !!!!!!!!!!!!!
note: Joy Hruby is a living legend of the Australian
entertainment industry, and to know her, is to love
her. On behalf of all the people you have helped so
much over the years, thank you.
- 29th July 2003
31 Community TV - More than just Joy's World, by Greg
Tingle & Yvette Moore - 8th March 2004
World, by Greg Tingle & Yvette Moore - 7th July
31 Sydney - Joy's World Production Newsletter - 21st
turn-off sparks protest, by Sunanda Creagh - 19th
television licence allocated for Sydney - 18th March
Movie Database - Joy Hruby