At just 21 years of age, Dre Ngatokorua is having his name mentioned among some of the most prominent Aboriginal media personalities.
The Umeewarra Media broadcaster and DJ has been nominated for two awards at the inaugural First Nations Media Awards ceremony, which will be hosted in Sydney on Friday, November 23.
Dre is one of three finalists in both the ‘Best Photography’ and ‘Best Interview or Oral History’ categories.
His competition for the awards includes popular National Indigenous Television (NITV) show ‘Living Black’ and Koori Mail photographer Jillian Mundy.
Dre described the feeling of being a finalist as surreal.
“It was a shock. My boss brought me in for a meeting and I just thought it would be a normal work meeting, then all of a sudden I found out I was a finalist in two awards,” he said.
“I never thought I’d be a finalist in a national award, going up against NITV and even Koori Mail.”
Dre’s Best Photography nomination came as a result of his artwork displayed at the Davenport community’s photography exhibition, ‘Limitless’, in April.
His piece, titled ‘I Am Me, But You Don’t See’, features a young boy sitting in the tunnel next to Braddock Park under the highway.
Using the darkness of the tunnel, as well as a smoke machine, coloured gels and a glimpse of light, Dre said the photo captures the struggles of a young person.
“The photo represents what I’ve gone through in my life. Growing up, I was in a dark place,” he revealed.
“But there’s that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel to say there’s always something to look forward to.”
An emotional on-air chat between Dre and his mother, Lavene Ngatokorua, earned him the Best Interview or Oral History nomination, covering a wide range of topics including her time as a police officer.
Dre uses his radio platform to have honest and raw conversations, particularly when hosting his own segment, ‘The Straight Out Show’, where he encourages Aboriginal youths to speak up.
Coming from Wangkangurru, Adnyamathanha, Kuyani, Luritja, Deiri, Yankunytjatjara, Cook Island and Maori descent, Dre said its really important for young Indigenous people to have a voice.
“I get a lot of kids in from Port Augusta Secondary School and even the younger kids to tell me what’s really going on at school, and I can get them in contact with any help they need,” he said.
“Young people get overlooked sometimes, so I think it’s great to help them find their identity within themselves.”
Through The Straight Out Show, Dre organised the first-ever NAIDOC Colour Run earlier this year.