The six part series was awarded best television drama, while Mailman’s co-star Rachel Griffiths took out the gong for best supporting actress for her part in the political series.
While Mailman has been a staple on Australian television for years, this role was her first as a lead in a TV series.
In Total Control, which aired on ABC TV in October, she plays Alex Irving, an Indigenous woman who is recruited by the Prime Minister, played by Griffiths, to become a senator in the federal parliament. It’s a story that encompasses ambition, betrayal and redemption and it is one of Australian TV’s best offerings of the year.
“It’s the most beautiful, well-drawn, complicated character I’ve ever played,” Mailman said while accepting the award.
“Just look at the incredible drama we are producing in this country. I think we should be so incredibly proud of what we are doing.”
The series was produced by Darren Dale and Miranda Dear for production company Blackfella films.
“When you have characters that are well-drawn and complex, particularly female characters and black female characters, people want more of it,” Mailman told NITV News.
“Young Aboriginal girls, and even guys, can actually see that you can be anything you want and it’s actually [all about] seeing us on screen, and that’s the most important thing.”
We won peeps! Deborah Mailman Rachel griffiths and #totalcontroltv won best actress and supporting actress and best drama series. We are so thrilled to have made this for Australia. @ABCTV pic.twitter.com/kC59AD4peX
— Blackfella Films (@blackfellafilms) December 4, 2019
Mailman has now won six AACTA awards, making her one of Australia’s most celebrated actors.
Other notable wins on Wednesday night include the ABC parenting comedy The Letdown, which took out two awards including best comedy series. Lead actor and co-creator Alison Bell was recognised for best performance in a TV comedy.
— The Letdown (@TheLetdownTV) December 4, 2019
Meanwhile, Jennifer Kent won best director and best screenplay for her work on the film The Nightingale.