Drag writer and performer Courtney Act, also known as Shane Jenek, takes her lens back to ABC’s One Plus One series for a second round of in-depth conversations with eight celebrities.
The theme is ‘fame’ and the first episode features much-loved Australian comedian Mark Trevorrow – it’s his first full-length interview in 40 years as himself.
“One of the first glimmers of homosexuality”
Most Australians are familiar with Bob Downe, one of Trevorrow’s most beloved and enduring comedy characters.
“One of the first glimmers of homosexuality I saw on Australian television was when Bob Downe was on Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton in the 90s,” Courtney recalled.
A young Shane Jenek sought out Trevorrow when he first moved to Sydney from Brisbane aged 18, where they ended up performing on the same stages and becoming friends.
“I think Spicks and Specks was kind of the first thing he did as Mark,” Courtney says, “and it was a really freeing thing for him to be like himself without the appearance of Bob.”
Where do I end, where do I start?
One of the themes of this season of Courtney Act’s One Plus One is navigating identity in the spotlight.
It’s something Courtney has dealt with both as Shane and Courtney, and something Trevorrow has also pondered – where does Mark end and Bob begin?
“Maybe the two started out as characters, but over time they kind of merged into our own personalities,” Courtney says.
“At first, Courtney was a way for me to express my femininity and dress up in beautiful outfits in a socially acceptable way – but really, that’s just who I am.”
More than on edge
The guest list for the show is carefully selected by Courtney.
Other interviewees who have delved into gender, sexuality and identity in the public eye include actor and transgender activist Georgie Stone and gay Australian professional footballer Josh Cavallo.
Then there’s author Renee McBryde, who shares a deeply personal story about being the daughter of a convicted murderer – a secret her mother made her keep.
“One Plus One is such a great opportunity to build a roster of people with different stories that I love and think is good to amplify,” Courtney said.
Like talking to “Tom Nash about his experience of being a DJ and also having a disability” or “Jay Laga’aia, who is famous from Playschool but also from so many TV shows we know and love, and hear about his racing experience and the entertainment industry”.
Going deep isn’t a challenge for Courtney.
“I don’t like small talk,” she says, “in fact having a real conversation with someone is something I much prefer.”
Capturing someone’s essence
One of the things Courtney likes about the One Plus One format is that it’s not a heavily produced show, so viewers can watch a real conversation.
“There is no specific time, there is no agenda,” she says.
“It’s just a nice conversation with someone. And in an anxiety-inducing news cycle, it’s kind of nice to see two people enjoying each other’s company.”
“Everyone I’ve spoken to for One Plus One are real outliers in that they’re all people who haven’t accepted the status quo and defined who they are about who they really are,” adds Courtney.
“I think there’s something really exciting, empowering and beautiful about it.”
Accept our differences
Courtney is passionate about raising awareness of difference – leading to acceptance.
This is something she hopes to achieve through these conversations.
“I championed being yourself and expressing yourself as it might manifest within yourself,” she says.
“The ABC tells so many wonderful stories that are different from the experience that a lot of people have had, and I think we’re able to foster a sense of empathy, and more patience, and more acceptance of people who are different and have different experiences.
“I think it’s so important right now because there’s something nice about understanding that our similarities are greater than our differences in these situations.”
The new season of One Plus One by Courtney Act premieres tonight Thursday, June 2 on ABC.
#season #Courtney #Act