Stars come out for AACTA red carpet

Jodie Stephens and Greta Stonehouse

As the brightest stars in Australian film and television hit the annual AACTA red carpet in Sydney, female nominees reflected on how far the industry has come.

First-time nominee Miranda Tapsell, who co-wrote and starred in Darwin-based film Top End Wedding, said women were working harder than ever to break through and "there is still so much work to be done".

"I think women have been working twice as hard to get only half as far," Tapsell told AAP.

Deborah Mailman who is nominated for best lead actress in a television drama for the series Total Control said co-star and executive producer Rachel Griffiths was passionate about women being cast in diverse roles.

"She's making sure women are represented with all their faults, all their imperfections, all their inner beauty and all their intelligence," Mailman told AAP.

Mailman said her role in Total Control, which is up for best television drama, really resonated with her as an Indigenous Australian actor.

Magnolia Maymuru, who was already named best supporting actress for her role in best film contender The Nightingale at an earlier event, said "women can do anything and everything".

She said her win was complete surprise, and it made her feel "like the story that I have told was heard".

For actor Damon Herriman, the awards capped off a massive year - and he had already made awards history as he walked the red carpet.

Herriman starred in in two of the best film nominees - The Nightingale and Judy & Punch - and received most individual nominations across the performance categories.

"It's lovely - I mean, I think four nominations is a little ridiculous, I don't necessarily agree with them all but it's very, very sweet," he told AAP.

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne, whose story was portrayed in the nominated film Ride Like a Girl, walked the red carpet with her brother Stevie, who portrayed himself in the movie.

She said it had "pretty special" and very overwhelming to see her life play out on the big screen but she "loved every second of it".

"I think they just did an amazing job and I'm really proud of what the movie represents," Payne told AAP.

Sam Neill was already a winner, with the veteran actor being honoured with the Longford Lyell Award recognising an outstanding contribution to the industry.

"I've worked in the Australian film industry for 40 years and to finally get something like this is an icing on the cake," he told AAP.

"I couldn't think of anything more rewarding than working in films and working in Australian films has been such a privilege for me."