Media personality Maria Thattil isn’t afraid to speak her truth and has been happy to share her most heartfelt experiences and opinions ever since she was crowned Miss Universe Australia back in 2020.
Since then, the model and aspiring actress has come a long way as a cast member of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, as a Mardi Gras ambassador and now author of her insightful memoir and self help guide Unbounded.
Discussing everything from her experiences with racism, sexism and bullying, Maria was also candid about the immense financial struggles her family experienced when they lost their house, how that shaped her attitudes towards money, and how she was eventually able to reverse those thoughts.
She shares more about that challenging time and tells us about what else she’s up to.
A devastating financial blow
“I grew up experiencing financial insecurity, but things really took a turn for the worse seven years ago when we lost our family home. When I look back on it, my parents grew up in quite a privileged position in India. When we emigrated to Melbourne in the 1980s they didn’t necessarily have the financial literacy to ensure that we were set up for emergencies and unprecedented circumstances that can strip families of everything.
In the chapter Prime in Unbounded, I talk about being primed for a scarcity mindset with money. When I started working, I thought that having ‘just enough’ was okay. However, I also wanted to ‘appear rich’ to get by in the circles I was in.
Talking about our family experiences with generational trauma and financial insecurity where I had to relive it to write it was hard, but also it meant that my brother and parents were reliving it.
There were things that we all did to move past it. But now I don’t often stop to look back on it as it takes you back to dark times. I did go to therapy last year whilst writing and reliving which really helped.”
“I spoke about what I wanted to reveal in the book to my mum, dad and brother, as the book is something that affects them too. But when I sat down and said, ‘is there’s anything you don’t want me to put in here’ they were supportive.
They said, ‘Maria there are going to be families who have experienced what we have and kids who lived and walked in your shoes. If they can pick up the book and realise that such a situation is not permanent and doesn’t define the rest of their lives, then put it out there.’”
Unlearning bad financial mindsets
“I had to learn how to set myself up to create wealth and be financially secure. I discuss how I unlearned my old beliefs which then led to me creating opportunities to be secure and happy. I also talk about how my parents did a lot of hard work on their financial literacy to rectify their situation.
I’m proud to say that I’m now house hunting for a place, and comfortable because of the lessons I learnt.”
Coming out to parents as bisexual
“In the chapter titled, Shed, I talk about shedding the beliefs that don’t serve me. To come out to my parents at the age of 28 in 2021 was really challenging but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that if you want to curate a fulfilling life you have to be willing to part with people, places, things and relationships that don’t serve that.
Coming out did require me to shed a lot of my old concerns about religious beliefs and also required me to having months of open conversations with my parents. 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’m now an ambassador this year for Olay for the Sydney Mardi Gras and TikTok for World Pride. As a staunch LGBTIQA+ advocate I’m just so thrilled that my brother who identifies as gay, will be sitting next to me on the Olay float this year for Mardi Gras.”
Next stop – acting
“Now that the book is complete, I am so excited to be concentrating on my next big goal – acting. I’ve just made my acting debut in an original content series for TikTok called Let’s Get Ducking Famous. In the series my character Naomi and her friend try to become social media famous through posts about Naomi’s pet duck Steven.
I had never held a duck before. I was surprised at how big they are. The first time I picked up Daffy (who plays Steven) he scratched me! However, once we got to know him and his stand in Daffy 2 they were actually very sweet and placid!”
Unbounded: Manifesting a Life Without Limits, by Maria Thattil, is available from Penguin Random House for $34.99