About

Justine Clarke wasn’t quite born on stage, but over three extraordinary decades in song and screen, she’s easily made up for the few years she missed before she landed that first Humphrey Bear biscuits commercial at the age of seven.

Today she’s one of the most recognised and trusted faces on the Australian entertainment landscape: best-selling children’s singer, accomplished jazz chanteuse, internationally acclaimed film star, seasoned stage actor, and constant, reassuring presence on daytime TV institution, “Play School”.

Music and acting were facts of life for Justine long before she sang her first stage role, as an 11-year-old Brigitta in “The Sound of Music”. Her mother had been a teenaged Shakespearian actress turned Tivoli song-and-dance star; her father a booking agent at a Sydney variety venue.

At 12, Justine made her worldwide movie debut as Anna Goanna, riding shotgun with Mel Gibson in the blockbuster action feature “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”.

She honed her craft as a teenage actor in a string of TV serials that helped define Australia in the 1980s, including “GP”, “A Country Practice”, “Come In Spinner” and a one-and-a-half-year stint as Roo Stewart in “Home and Away”.

As early as 1989 she received her first Best Actress nomination from the Penguin Awards judges, for her performance in the title role of David Williamson’s TV drama, “Princess Kate”.

And always, she sang. As a child, Justine had performed in the choir at Woollahra Public School, and danced across countless shopping mall stages. It was a chance encounter with Australian jazz icon Vince Jones in 1991 that made her focus her natural gifts as a singer.

“I was working in my boyfriend’s restaurant in Melbourne when I was 18,” she recalls. “Vince Jones was my idol. He came in for dinner one night and we ended up round the piano singing. He was very complimentary, very encouraging. I bought myself a microphone and amp and started practising every day in the back room.”

Over the next decade she wrote and sang in a range of musical guises, from 12-piece country and western band Honky Tonk Angels to ’50s rock’n‘rollers, the Comets.

But she realised her true calling as a jazz vocalist at the Starfish Club, the Wine Banc and other distinguished Sydney venues. She sang with Tom Burlinson in a Frank Sinatra big band tribute, and in 2001 wrote and performed a heartfelt tribute of her own, “Justine Clarke in a Doris Daze”.

Somehow, by day, she managed to take escalating acting demands in her stride. On TV there was “Wildside” and “All Saints”, “Love My Way” and the critically acclaimed “The Surgeon”. On the big screen, “Blackrock” (with Heath Ledger) and “Japanese Story” (with Toni Collette) led to a clutch of awards and nominations for her role as Meryl in “Look Both Ways” in 2004.

A long association with the Sydney Theatre Company began in 1996, and would reach a critical peak with her Helpmann-nominated performance in “Hedda Gabler” opposite Cate Blanchett. Justine met her husband, actor Jack Finsterer, while performing in “Cyrano de Bergerac” for the STC in 1999.

But it isn’t only their three children — Josef, Nina and baby Max — who feel a profound bond with Justine Clarke today.

“‘Playschool’ is a great way of connecting,” she says. “If you imagine there’s one child sitting on the floor watching, and you might actually get that child up on her feet, spark her imagination, that’s really everything you want to do as an actor. You want to tell a story and for that to ignite something.”

In her 11 years with Big Ted, Jemima and the rest of the iconic Playschool cast, Justine has released three extremely successful CD/ DVDs of childrens’ songs, with original compositions by pianist Peter Dasent and backed by some of Australia’s finest jazz musicians.

“I Like To Sing” (2005) is a certified gold album, a rarity in the world of kids’ music. Its irrepressible tunes about watermelons, birthdays and libraries instantly entered the everyday family songbook and seem set for a long stay.

“Songs to Make You Smile” (2008) continued to broaden the horizons of the singalong children’s song, from exhilarating car-radio pop to country, swing, rock and other deceptively sophisticated musical settings for a warm and impeccably pitched voice that sounds, to adults and children alike, like that of an old friend.

“Great Big World” (2010) is the latest in a childrens’ music catalogue which is now among ABC Records’ most successful ever, with accompanying DVDs for each title continuing to find new homes with successive waves of preschoolers every year.

Justine’s recording career has barely begun. A second series of adult TV drama “Tangle” is in the can. A new big screen thriller, “In Her Skin”, will shortly see her performing alongside Guy Pearce, Sam Neill and Miranda Otto. And having averaged a major stage role every year since 1996, you can keep your eye on theatre listings too.

“Whether it’s singing or acting on stage,” Justine says, “performing live is where I get my kicks.”

The full Justine Clarke career history

CHILDREN’S MUSIC

2015 CD: PYJAMA JAM!
2012 CD: A Little Day Out
2010 CD & DVD: Great Big World
2008 CD & DVD: Songs To Make You Smile
2007 DVD: I Like To Sing
2005 CD: I Like To sing

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

2012 Gobbledygook is Eating a Book
2016 The Gobbledygook and the Scribbledynoodle

FILM

2016 RED DOG: TRUE BLUE
Woss Group Film Productions.

2015 A MONTH OF SUNDAYS
Madman Production Company.

2014 MAYA THE BEE
Flying Bark Productions.
Voice – Miss Cassandra

2014 HEALING
Pointblank Pictures.

2007 IN HER SKIN
Liberty Films.

2005 THE WATER DIARY
Big Shell Publishing. Dir. Jane Campion.
Role – Liz.

2004 LOOK BOTH WAYS
Hibiscus Films. Dir. Sarah Watt.
Role – Meryl.

2003 JAPANESE STORY
Gecko Films. Dir. Sue Brooks.
Role –Jane.

2002 DANNY DECKCHAIR
Deckchair Productions. Dir. Jeff Balsmeyer.
Role – Trudy.

1999 BOOTMEN
Bootmen Productions. Dir. Dein Perry.
Role – Kim.

1996 BLACKROCK
Palm Beach Pictures. Dir. Steven Vidler.
Role – Tiffany.

1995 TURNING APRIL
Total Films. Dir. Geoff Bennett.
Role – Rose.

1984 MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME
Kennedy Miller Productions. Dirs. George Miller, George Ogilvie.
Role – Anna Goanna.

SHORT FILM

BALLOON GIRL
AFTRS. Dir. Justine Kerrigan.
Role – Balloon Girl.

TELEVISION

2015 HOUSE HUSBANDS
Playmaker Media
Role – Eve

2013 – 2014 THE TIME OF OUR LIVES
ABC TV.
Role – Bernadette.

2017 – 2003 PLAYSCHOOL
ABC TV.
Presenter.

2010 – 2008 TANGLE
John Edwards/Southern Star.
Role – Ally.

2007 LOVE MY WAY Series 3
John Edwards/Southern Star.
Role – Julia.

2007 BASTARD BOYS
Flying Cabbage Productions. Dir. Ray Quint
Role – Janine McSwain

2007 THE SURGEON
Southern Star. Dir. Matt Saville/Rebecca Barry.
Role – Eve.

2003 THE BRUSH OFF
Murray Whelan P/L. Dir. Sam Neill.
Role – Salina.

2003 GO BIG
Go Big Films. Dir. Tony Tilse.
Role – Gina Katz.

2001 HEAD START
Gannon Television. Dir. Chris Martin-Jones.
Role – Julia.

2001 BACKBERNER
Crackerjack Productions.
Role – Susan Reece

1998 ALL SAINTS
Amalgamated TV Services.
Role – Dr Samantha O’Hara.

1998 NEVER TELL ME NEVER
Palm Beach Pictures. Dir. David Elfick.
Role – Anna. Telemovie.

1997-98 WILDSIDE
Gannon Jenkins Televsion. Dir. Peter Andrikidis.
Role – Jessie Roscoe.

1996 TWISTED TALES – The Crossing
Twisted Tales. Dir. Kate Dennis.
Role – Pip.

1991 GOLDEN FIDDLES
South Australian Film Corporation. Dir. Claude Fournier.
Role – Liddy.

1991 TRACKS OF GLORY
South Australian Film Corporation. Dir. Marcus Cole.
Role – Kate O’Brien.

1990 COME IN SPINNER
ABC TV. Dir. Robert Marchand.
Role – Monnie.

1989 PROFESSOR POOPSNAGLE’S STEAM ZEPPLELIN
Grundy Television.
Role – Carmen.

1988 PRINCESS KATE
Unthank Films. Dir. George Ogilvy.
Role – Kate McLelland.

1988 HOME & AWAY
Amalgamated Television Services.
Role – Ruth Stewart.

1984 MAESTRO’S COMPANY
Independent Productions. Dir. Bill Fitzwater.
Role – Tina.

DOWN UNDER
ABC TV. Dir. Julia Moody.
Role – Karen.

A COUNTRY PRACTICE
JNP Films.
Role – Nicky Simpson.

WILLING & ABEL
Lyn Bayonas Productions.
Role – Tina.

GP
Roadshow Coote and Carroll.
Role – Louise Barton.

THE PRIVATE WAR OF LUCINDA SMITH
Resolution Films. Dir. Ray Alchin.
Role – Nellie.

IN HOUSE
Television and Telecasters Limited.
Role – Jemima Patrick.

THEATRE

2014 CHILDREN OF THE SUN
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Kip Williams
Role –

2012 LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Sam Strong.
Role – Madame la Présidente de Tourvel

2009 THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISSOCIA
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Marion Potts.
Role – Lisa.

2008 TOY SYMPHONY
Belvoir St. Theatre. Dir. Neil Armfield.

2006 REUNION & A KIND OF ALASKA
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Cate Blanchett
Role – Carol Mindler, Pauline

2006 HEDDA GABLER
BAM Festival Brooklyn. Dir. Robyn Nevin.
Role – Mrs Elvsted.

2004 HEDDA GABLER
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Robyn Nevin.
Role – Mrs. Elvsted.

2003 DREAMING TRANSPORTATION
Sydney Metropolitan Opera.

2002 THE MAN WITH FIVE CHILDREN
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir George Ogilvy.
Role – Annie.

2000 TRELAWNEY OF THE WELLS
Melbourne Theatre Company & Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Simon Phillips.
Role – Rose.

1999 CYRANO DE BERGERAC
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Marion Potts.
Role – Roxanne.

1997 THE HERBAL BED
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. Marion Potts.
Role – Hester.

1996 STIFFS
Sydney Theatre Company. Dir. David Berthold.
Role – Stella.

1995 LIVE ACTS ON STAGE
Griffin Theatre. Dir. Michael Gow.

1990 MURDERER
Karnak Playhouse. Dir. Diane Cilento.
Role – Millie.

1983 THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Regent Theatre. Prod. Noel Ferrier.
Role – Brigitta.

CABARET/JAZZ

2001 A DORIS DAZE – A Doris Day Story
Written & Performed by Justine at Winebanc.

2000 FRANK SINATRA SHOW SYDNEY ALL STARS BIG BAND
With Tom Burlinson. Vocalist. Support Band.

2000 WINE BANC
Regular Guest Vocalist.

1999 STARFISH CLUB
Guest Vocalist.

1999 VIENNAWORLD
Vocalist, Songwriter, percussionist.
4 Piece Band – Originals.

1997/99 THE COMETS
Lead Vocalist. 50’s & 60’s Rock & Roll Band.

1994/98 AUTOMATIC CHERRY
Backing Vocalist, Song Writer. 8 Piece Band– Originals.

1993/95 WHITE TRASH MAMA’S
Vocalist, Song Writer.

1992 HONKY TONK ANGELS
Vocalist, Song Writer. 12 Piece Country & Western Show Band. Originals / Covers.

NARRATION

2007 “4” Vast Productions.

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS

2013 ARIA Award for_ Best Children’s Album_ for A LITTLE DAY OUT

2013 ABIA (Australian Book Industry Award) Nomination for Book of the Year for Younger Children for THE GOBBLEDYGOOK IS EATING A BOOK

2010 ASTRA Award for Most Outstanding Performance by an Actor – Female. Role: Ally. Show: TANGLE

2008 ARIA nomination for Best Children’s Album for SONGS TO MAKE YOU SMILE.

2006 ARIA nomination for_ Best Children’s Album_ for I LIKE TO SING.

2006 Vladivostock Film Festival Award for _Best Actress _for LOOK BOTH WAYS.

2006 Australian Film Institute Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama for THE SURGEON.

2006 Mar Del Plata Film Festival Award. Best Actress in a Lead Role for LOOK BOTH WAYS.

2005 AFI Award nomination. Best Lead Actress for LOOK BOTH WAYS.

2005 IF Award nomination. Best Actress in a Lead Role for LOOK BOTH WAYS.

2005 Film Critics Circle of Australia Award nomination. Best Actress in a Lead Role for LOOK BOTH WAYS.

2005 Helpmann Award nomination for “Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play” for HEDDA GABLER

2003 Film Critics Circle of Australia Award nomination. Actress in a supporting role.

1998 Penguin Award nomination for “Best Juvenile Actress” for PRINCESS KATE.