Writer and drag actress Courtney Act, also known as Shane Jenek, brings her footage back to ABC’s OnePlus series for a second round of in-depth conversations with eight celebrities.
Themed on “Fame,” the first episode starred beloved Australian comedian Mark Trevorrow — his first full-length interview in 40 years.
“Queer’s First Light”
Most Australians know Bob Downe as one of Trevorrow’s most popular and enduring comedic characters.
“One of the first weird shimmers I saw on Australian TV was when Bob Down and Burt Newton were on Good Morning Australia in the ’90s,” recalls Courtney.
Young Shane Jenek found Trevorrow when he first moved from Brisbane to Sydney at the age of 18, and they ended up performing on the same stage and becoming friends.
“I think Spicks and Specks was the first thing he did as Mark,” Courtney said, “It was a really liberating thing for him to do without the guise of Bob. Own.”
Where do I end and where do I start?
One of the themes of one-plus-one on Courtney’s Act this season is navigating identity in the spotlight.
It’s something Courtney has dealt with as Shane and Courtney, and it’s something Trevorrow has pondered — where does Mark end and where does Bob start?
“Maybe both started out as characters, but over time they merged with our own personalities,” Courtney said.
“In the beginning, Courtney was my way of expressing my femininity and dressing beautifully in a socially acceptable way – but really, that’s who I am.”
more than superficial
The guest list for the show was handpicked by Courtney.
Other respondents who struggled with gender, sexuality and identity in the public eye included transgender actor and activist Georgie Stone and gay professional Australian 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 told her to keep.
“One Plus One was a great opportunity to put together a list of people with different stories that I liked that I thought would be great for zooming in,” Courtney said.
Like “Tom Nash talking about his experiences as a DJ and disability” or “Jay Laga’aia, he’s famous in Playschool but also has a lot of TV shows we know and love, hear about his racial history and the entertainment industry”.
Digging deeper was not a challenge for Courtney.
“I don’t like small talk,” she said. “I actually prefer to have a real, proper conversation with someone.”
capture the essence of a person
One of the things Courtney appreciates about the One Plus One format is that it’s not a heavily produced show, so viewers are able to watch real conversations.
“No crunch, no agenda,” she said.
“It’s just having a nice conversation with someone. It’s so lovely to watch two people enjoy each other’s company during an anxious news cycle.”
“Everyone I’ve spoken to at OnePlus is a real outlier because they’re people who don’t accept the status quo and define who they really are,” Courtney added.
“I think it’s really exciting and powerful and beautiful.”
accept our differences
Courtney is passionate about spreading awareness of difference – leading to acceptance.
This is what she hopes to achieve through these conversations.
“I’ve always advocated being who you are, expressing who you are, whatever that might manifest in you,” she said.
“ABC tells a lot of wonderful stories that are different from the experiences of many people, and I think through these stories we can develop a sense of empathy, more patience, more acceptance of people who are different and have different experiences .
“I think it’s important now because in these cases, we’re more alike than we’re different, which is a lovely thing.”
new season Courtney Act One Plus One It premieres tonight on ABC on Thursday, June 2.