Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Model turned author Maria Thattil: I projected my angst onto my parents 

Model Maria Thattil turned to Author | Northern Beaches Mums

Since coming out as bisexual in 2021, media personality Maria Thattil has been lauded for her courage to speak up about LGBTIQA rights and wear her heart on her sleeve. 

However, one of the most admirable parts of her story has been the loyalty and public acceptance shown by her parents Nicky and Tony, who emigrated to Australia from India in the 1980s.

Maria writes candidly about her family dynamics in her new book Unbounded, which is part memoir, part self-help guide. Here she shares one of her most raw memories and tells us what else she’s up to.

You refer frequently to your parents in the book – what was one challenging experience you felt was important to share?

I think one challenging anecdote is in Chapter 4 which is called Feel. I had an experience at 14, a mental health crisis. I was a very shy kid and was experiencing such frustration about feeling like I didn’t fit in and didn’t belong. I recalled how deeply I struggled with the pain and I projected my angst onto my parents. 

How does that now make you feeling looking back?

It makes me feel sad. As a child I felt it was easier to blame my parents without realising the bigger picture. A lot of kids choose to project their anger onto their parents and say they are too controlling or whatever, when in fact there may be other factors at play. 

Why didn’t you feel like you fit in?

It had a lot to do with the racism and bullying I experienced. Racism is so insidious in that it can be both overt and covert. I’ve had overtly racist taunts by kids in the school yard about being ‘brown’. And professionally I’ve had a photographer tell me that everything about me was “too dark”. But then I’ve also experienced casual racism as an adult with people, who don’t even realise they are stereotyping you, in asking me if my parents “expect me to marry a nice Indian doctor” because that’s the expectation. 

Was it hard coming out to your parents at age 28 back in 2021?

Initially they didn’t understand. I didn’t expect them to understand everything at first as they are from a totally different generation and cultural context, however we have come a long way. I was lucky that I did end up having the support of my family.

What is your advice for young people wanting to come out but fearing a lack of family support?

I say when you are authentic to yourself you will attract ‘your people’. Those people don’t have to be your biological family, although there is always hope for that. Until you are safe enough to come out, there are also lots of amazing professional resources at hand such as youth charity Minus 18 who can help.

My family is now so supportive that I’ll proudly be sitting next to my brother Dom, who identified as gay, on the Olay float this year for Sydney Mardi Gras. I’m an ambassador this year for both Olay and TikTok World Pride events, so as a staunch LGBTIQA supporter I’m phenomenally proud to be involved.

You recently debuted in the new TikTok comedy/drama series what’s the show about? 

It’s called Let’s Get Ducking Famous and it was conceptualised by my talent agency Bella and Blackfisch creative agency. In the series my character Naomi and her friend try to become social media famous through posts about Naomi’s pet duck Steven. 

I used to go over to Daffy (who plays Steven) and Daffy 2 his stand in when they were in their cages when they were resting and talk quietly to them to keep them calm. The audio guys who could hear the conversations would fall about laughing at these bizarre conversations with two ducks!

What was the experience like?

It was so much fun! I loved the experience of acting, now I’ve had a taste of it, it’s something I really want to pursue and was a great way to dip my toe into the water. I’d love to do a film or a TV show with a bit of a comic element I love to make people laugh.

Unbounded: Manifesting a Life Without Limits, by Maria Thattil, is available from Penguin Random House for $34.99