Author and performer of the Courtney Act, also known as Shane Jenek, brings her lens back to ABC’s One Plus One series, where she will conduct detailed interviews with eight celebrities in the second round.
The theme is “fame” and in the first episode is played by the popular Australian comedian Mark Trevorrow – this is his first long interview in 40 years like himself.
“One of the first flashes of weirdness”
Most Australians would know Bob Downe, one of the most popular and enduring comedy characters created by Trevorrow.
“One of the first glimpses of weirdness I saw on Australian television was when Bob Downe and Bert Newton aired Good Morning Australia in the 1990s,” Courtney recalls.
Young Shane Jenek sought out Trevorrow when he first moved to Sydney from Brisbane at the age of 18, where he eventually performed on the same stages and became friends.
“I think Spicks and Specks was kind of the first thing he did like Mark,” Courtney says, “and it was a really liberating thing for him to do like himself without Bob’s mask.”
Where do I end, where do I start?
One of the themes of this season’s Courtney Act’s One Plus One is navigating identity under the spotlight.
It’s something Courtney has dealt with like Shane and Courtney, and Trevorrow has been thinking about it – where does Mark end and where does Bob start?
“Maybe they both started as characters, but over time they merged with our own personalities,” says Courtney.
“In the beginning, for me, Courtney was a way to express femininity and dress in beautiful outfits in a socially acceptable way – but I’m really like that.”
More than the depth of the skin
Courtney carefully selects the show’s guest list.
Other respondents who faced gender, sexuality and identity in the eyes of the public include 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 of being the daughter of a convicted murderer – a secret her mother made her keep.
“One plus one is a great opportunity to make a list of people with different stories that I love, and I think it’s great to expand them,” says Courtney.
Like talking to “Tom Nash about his experience of being a DJ and also having a disability” or “Jay Laga’aia, who is known from Playschool, but also from so many TV shows we know and love, and listening to his experience in racing and the entertainment industry “.
Going deep is not a challenge for Courtney.
“I don’t like to talk,” he says, “actually having a real, proper conversation is something you much prefer.”
Capturing one’s essence
One of the things Courtney appreciates about the One Plus One format is that it’s not a heavily produced show, so viewers can watch the actual interview.
“There is no embarrassment, there is no agenda,” he says.
“It’s just a nice conversation with someone. And in an anxious news cycle, it’s a little beautiful to just watch two people enjoy each other’s company.”
“All the people I’ve spoken to for One Plus One are truly extraordinary in that they’re all people who haven’t accepted the status quo and defined who they were, who they really were,” adds Courtney.
“I think there’s something really exciting, empowering and beautiful about that.”
Accepting our differences
Courtney is excited about spreading awareness of diversity – which leads to acceptance.
That is something he wants to achieve through these conversations.
“I was in favor of you being yourself and expressing yourself, no matter how much it may affect you,” he says.
“ABC tells so many amazing stories that are different from the experiences of many people, and I think that allows us 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 beautiful to understand that our similarities are greater than our differences in these situations.”
The new season of Courtney Act’s One Plus One premieres tonight on Thursday, June 2 on ABC.
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