Steven Tu Steven and the Tightrope Walk Interview

Steven Tu Steven and the Tightrope Walk Interview

Steven Tu Steven and the Tightrope Walk Interview

The moving true story of Steven Tu, who has overcome extreme hardship, has been released today in a new animated film called Steven & the Tightrope Walk.

The two minute film is the fourth in The Smith Family's Tales of the -One in Ten' series, produced in conjunction with The Solid State. The series is based on the true stories of children who have lived with, and overcome disadvantage, with the support of the national children's education charity.

Steven & the Tightrope Walk has 23-year-old Steven as the voiceover artist telling his story in his own words.

As a youngster, Steven's family were evicted from their home. With only enough money to survive day-to-day, they weren't able to afford the basics he needed for school.

'When we couldn't afford the rent, we lost our home," said Steven. 'We had to move into my Aunt's one bedroom flat, where my pregnant mother, my father, and my two siblings slept in a small lounge room. I was on the kitchen floor.

'Late at night, I sometimes had to study on the kitchen floor because there just wasn't room elsewhere. I started to fall behind at school because we couldn't afford the books or school trips - I felt so alone.

'I couldn't see myself passing high school. It was a scary feeling. When I was on that floor studying it didn't feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It was a struggle to get by."

The Smith Family's CEO, Dr Lisa O'Brien, said: 'With more than 622,100, or one in 10, Australian children living in jobless families* our latest film aims to showcase the courage of one of the students we were able to assist.

'Our education sponsorship program, Learning for Life, ensured Steven was equipped with all the items that he needed, like stationery, books and the correct uniform, as well as extra outside-of-school learning support," she said.

The Learning for Life sponsorship program helped Steven to keep studying, finish Year 12 and attend university. He now works full-time in managerial position in the health sector.

Steven believes that The Smith Family's support was the reason he was able to make it through school.

'When I finished Year 12, I was so happy - it was the best feeling I've ever had. I'm looking forward to the future, I have a great job now and I can't wait to see what's next," he said.

Dr Lisa O'Brien added: 'Steven's story is truly inspiring and shows the real benefits that can be achieved when the community reaches out and invests in supporting the education of a disadvantaged child. With this generous help, these children can create better futures for themselves."

To learn more about The Smith Family, or to sponsor a child, visit

Interview with Steven Tu

Question: Can you tell us about the process of creating Steven & the Tightrope Walk?

Steven Tu: It was a really fun process! I got flown to Sydney – which was the best part - to do the voice over with some amazing people. They showed me the slides and I pitched it. It's awesome that I was able to tell my story and the only creative part was the animation!

Question: How much creative input did Steve Tu have in Steven & the Tightrope Walk?

Rhys Kelly, Head of Communications, The Smith Family: The Tales of the One in Ten films shine the light on the negative impact that disadvantage can have on a child's school years. They help us engage with the public on this important issue, primarily through social media.

For Steven & The Tightrope Walk we carefully selected the analogy of a tightrope to centre the story around. The struggles Steven was experiencing made him feel like he was walking on a tightrope - juggling his school and home life and uncertain he would make it through his education.

We created this film using some of the storytelling tools often found in fairy tales, and we were able to have Steven as the voiceover artist telling his story in his own words which lent an additional truth and authenticity to the film.

Ultimately we want this film to raise awareness of the statistic that today 662,100 Australian children live in disadvantage and give people an opportunity to make a difference to these children's lives through supporting their education.

Question: What message do you hope viewers take from Steven & the Tightrope Walk?

Steven Tu: I hope that everyone knows that even in the darkest times there will always be a shining light. I'm fortunate that The Smith Family was there for me.

Question: Can you talk us through how The Smith Family helped you overcome disadvantage?

Steven Tu: The Smith Family helped my family through their Learning for Life program – which gave us money to buy things like books, uniforms and pens.

I felt amazing just getting books and stationery, that joy of having those books in front of you where I can just study.

They would also help with mentoring me one-on-one with my subjects and all that little extra help that a Year 12 would need.

Just knowing that there are people there willing to support you means everything! It's an even better motivation to go your hardest to achieve your goals.

Finishing Year 12 meant the world to me; I can't explain how happy I was. I don't think there would've been a way I would've done it without the books and the sponsorship from The Smith Family.

Question: How have you personally overcome disadvantage?

Steven Tu: I guess as a family we've grown closer from going through that. We're a happier family now and we're all looking forward to the future and what it holds. I have a great job and I can't wait to see what's next.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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