Deciding life’s too short not to follow your passion has led Basia Bonkowksi (1952-2022) to achieve a 30-year career in Australian television as a producer, presenter, writer and movie reviewer.
As a child, Basia’s first love was writing, but she was also passionate about the arts and harboured a dream of becoming an actor.
‘Being from a hard-working migrant family however, the impetus was for me to become a lawyer,’ says Basia (BA (Hons) ’75). ‘But after a year of studying law and a serious illness, I decided that life was too short and that it was better to follow my passions. I made the switch to an arts degree at Flinders majoring in Drama and English.’
At Flinders University Basia quickly found a group of like-minded and talented creatives.
‘Flinders provided an intense and stimulating creative environment,’ says Basia. ‘We created, we learnt, and we had fun!’
After graduating, Basia began teaching Drama to a class of 40 rowdy students at Marion High School. She says, ‘One of the students from my Flinders days happened to be Bernie ‘Doc’ Neeson from The Angels. I invited the band to perform at the school and finally earnt the respect of a previously ‘untameable’ class of students.’
With the confidence of her Flinders degree and stint of teaching in the arts, Basia spring-boarded her career into television, working on a wide range of incredibly popular programs. Early career highlights include writing, producing and guest presenting for The Movie Show (SBS), writing and presenting for Behind the News (ABC), movie reviewing and reporting for Good Morning Australia (Ten), presenting for Music Video (Ten) and becoming a household name presenting and writing for Rock Around the World (SBS).
Never losing the connection to her Polish roots, Basia wrote and produced the documentary Poland for Channel Ten in 1990.
More recently, Basia produced The Secret Life of 4-Year-olds (ABC), Married at First Sight (Nine) and The Block (Nine). She is now the Executive Producer of Screentime in Sydney, where she oversees the filming and editing of the highly successful observational documentary series, RBT.
Obtaining a Master of Letters, Basia has also realised her passion for writing by publishing two non-fiction books. Inspired by her own experience as an adoptive mother, the beautifully written Jesse’s World is a ‘warts and all’ book on the reality of the challenges and rewards of bringing up children from overseas.
Basia believes following her passion for the arts has paid off. She says, ‘What is important to me is the fact that I now do something that I love in the creative arts, and that I have a family that has supported me all the way.’
Basia Bonkowski was awarded a 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award for her significant contribution to the creative arts as a television producer and presenter, author and movie reviewer.
Read the full list of 2019 Alumni Award recipients
It is with great sadness that Flinders University learnt of the passing of Distinguished Alumni Award winner and beloved TV star, Basia Bonkowksi. We extend our deepest condolences to Basia’s friends, family and loved ones. Read more