Young actor NT Javier Jones turns international heads for his first performance in Mungo

Up and coming Northern Territory actor Javier Jones likes that his friends at school don’t pay much attention to the fact that he’s made it to the big screen.

“I’m glad they don’t consider it so much,” he said.

“I don’t want to receive weird treatment, I just want to be treated normally.”

Twelve-year-old Larrakia plays the lead role in Australian short film Mungo, which tells the true story of an Aboriginal boy who leaves his family to join the circus in 1853.

Javier Jones hopes to go to the end of his acting game. (ABC News: Che Chorley)

The film was shot in Tamworth in 2021 when Javier was just 10 years old.

Although he had never been in an acting class before landing the role, he said his performance as Mungo came naturally.

Javier’s mother, Alicia Jones, said her son couldn’t believe his luck when he was cast in the lead role, after being spotted on a casting site.

“It was a very proud moment for him, he was quietly very proud of himself,” she said.

A director is on a film set with three actors.
Director Leonie Kelly (right) on set with Javier Jones (far left) for the filming of Mungo at Tamworth. (Provided by: Léonie Kelly)

International recognition for his first film

The film’s director, Leonie Kelly, said she was attracted to Javier from the moment they met and was blown away by his performance on set.

“Javier was able to perform in a way that I requested and was quite adaptable to being able to learn to speak the Gamilaraay language for the film,” she said.

Boy Larrakia won two best actor awards for his performance in the film, in New York and Paris, and wants to take his acting a step further.

Mungo is now making the film festival circuit in Australia and around the world, with a local screening in Darwin scheduled for later this year.

a young boy in a white shirt leans on a park bench and smiles at the camera.
Javier Jones won two international film awards for his performance in the Australian short film Mungo.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

‘Go for it, no matter what anyone tells you’

The Year 7 student said he looks to other stars born in the Northern Territory, including actor Rob Collins and fashion designer Paul McCann, for inspiration, and hopes to emulate their success, using Darwin as a launching pad.

When not at school, Javier likes to ‘get down the track’ to camp with his family and swim in the Top End waterholes. He thinks being close to nature makes him a better actor.

Javier said the only downside to living in the Northern Territory was the lack of local acting opportunities, but didn’t think that should stop other kids like him from pursuing their dreams.

“You should always try to go for it, no matter what anyone tells you, even if people look down on you or say, ‘you can’t do that,'” he said.

“Ignore them because they’re just jealous because you have that talent.”

This story is part of a Born and Bred special series, celebrating the work of remarkable Territorians.

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