Samuel Johnson OAM
Opening Keynote



Samuel Johnson OAM has been working in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. He is known as an actor, radio presenter, voiceover artist and philanthropist.

Stand out roles include his role in the cult hit The Secret Life Of Us, for which he won the AFI Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama Series, as well as his portrayal of Ian Molly Meldrum in Seven’s ratings smash Molly. Sam won the 2017 Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Television, Silver Logie Award for Best Actor and the 2016 AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor for his portrayal of this iconic role. In 2019 Samuel competed and won the 16th season of Dancing with the Stars and raised $50,000 in prize money for his charity Love Your Sister.

Other notable television credits include The Secret River, Paper Giants 2 Magazine Wars, Small Time Gangster, Underbelly II, Rush, the HBO mini-series The Pacific, Wilfred and After the Deluge which earned him his second AFI nomination, this time for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Samuel has also appeared in several popular Australian films, including the lead role of Dave in Crackerjack. More recently, Samuel starred in the series Eden, and Year Of, both for Stan.

As an accomplished voiceover artist he has narrated talking books including Tim Winton’s Scission, numerous television series and has voiced several commercial campaigns. His voice is also featured in the stop-motion animated feature film $9.99 with Geoffrey Rush and Joel Edgerton.

In 2001 Samuel was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal, Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, for his services to Australian society and Australian film production. He has held the title for GQ Magazine’s Social Force of the Year, received the 2015 Research Australia Advocacy Award which he shares with his sister Connie, and in 2016 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to cancer research.

In 2009, Samuel co-founded Straightjacket Productions, a production company aimed at touring theatre to regional Australia. In 2013, he took the play The Hunting of Daniel Gartrell on the road and toured it to 15 regional towns over a 2-month period.

In addition to acting, 2003 saw Samuel ride his unicycle 1003.4 kilometres between Sydney and Melbourne to raise $500,000 for CanTeen and initiated a film making program for ‘at risk’ teens through Open Family, as featured in ABC’s Australian Story.

In 2013, Samuel decided to ride the unicycle again. This time he would ride around the whole of Australia, raising money for cancer research, setting a new Guinness World Record for most distance travelled on a unicycle and more importantly, keeping his promise to his sister Connie that he would complete the ride and spread her message of breast cancer awareness.

In October 2014, Samuel, along with his sister Connie, became a published author releasing their first book titled Love Your Sister with the book going on to be nominated for Best Biography at the ABIA Awards. In 2018, Samuel gathered together a collection of letters to Santa from some of Australia’s most notorious and best-loved grown-ups for the bestseller Dear Santa, with every copy sold contributing to cancer research. He followed it up in 2019 with Dear Dad, a book of letters from some of Australia’s most notable notables to their fathers.

In late 2020, Samuel and his sister Hilde Hinton released Heroes Next Door – a moving, funny, irreverent, inspiring and big-hearted book that shows us all that resilience and kindness are what make the difference, and that you don’t have to travel far to find good people … often they are right next door. In 2021, he released his fifth book Dear Mum, a book of letters celebrating mothers and mother figures and in 2023 he followed this up with the release of Dear Lover, collection of letters about love from some of Australia’s most interesting grown-ups.