So, tell us, how did your Eurovision journey get started, and why did you want to throw your hat in the ring?
Throwing my wig in the ring…
Well, I've loved Eurovision for a long time, like I think most of us have. And then I got the call about Australia's national selection. I've been sort of trying to get in for years, if I'm honest.
I was in London, and so I wrote a bunch of different tracks, but the one that we chose, was ‘Fight for Love’ with Sky Adams, Billy Adams and Danny Shaw in London. I worked with the Square Division, who are the creative directors of the video and performance on my Christmas special, and I've known them for many years, and so they came on board and we sort of started working on the creative with that, and about the vibe, and we've got this great visual concept with the performance.
And then it was into the costume fittings. I had about five or six costume fittings, I think, which is probably more than most people have for a wedding dress. It's a bit like a wedding day, really.
What was it about the song that made it right for your Eurovision song. What even is a Eurovision song, to you?
Look, I know there are Eurovision formulas and things like that, but thinking about the science of trying to fit into the expectation of what Eurovision is, might lead you to not being true to yourself. So really, we just went to the studio and wrote a pop song. I like writing music that has a bit of a message in it, or a bit of meaning for myself, and ‘Fight for Love’ is very 2019. I've been living in America for the last eight years and I must say, ‘Fight for Love’ feels very pertinent in the U.S. with Donald Trump as President, where there's children being caged at the border, Muslim bans and all. And in the UK there's Brexit going on and there's a lot of racism, thinly veiled racism spouted from the right. We don't have to look too far here to find similar issues in our own country.
So ‘Fight for Love’ is based on this idea that thinking about just ourselves will only take us so far, and I think we need to be willing to fight for the things that we believe in. We can't be apathetic or rest on our laurels, and sort of maybe think slightly outside our own sphere and about other people.
When I'm going to be on Dancing With The Stars, and my charity is Black Rainbow, which is Australia's only queer Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander youth organisation that works with young queer Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander kids, so it’s about reaching across and seeing where our struggles intersect, I suppose, and where we can lift each other up. That seemed like that's what ‘Fight for Love’ is about for me: identifying the intersection, whether it be the oppression of women or people of colour or disabled people or queer people, and realising that all of our identities actually do intersect, and that a lot of people aren't just one of those things. It’s about realising that we're stronger together to use an unfortunately unsuccessful slogan, but it still has a true meaning.
Yes, exactly. Still with her. And tell me about what it's been like with your other contenders. How are you all getting along?
Good. There hasn't been enough bonding time yet. I've only met this bunch [motions to Ella Hooper, Tania Doko, Alfie Arcuco]. I haven't met Electric Fields, but I did bump into Kate today in the elevator. I have not met Aydan or Leea or Mark.
Yeah. So yeah, it's funny because I keep bumping into the Sheppard girls. Once was out the front of the hotel, waiting for pickup, and then at dinner we were at the same restaurant, and then I saw them walking out of Sass & Bide and I was walking in to Sass & Bide today at Pacific Fair. I kinda want that like, team bonding, but it probably won't happen 'til the after party, to be honest. We'll all be commiserating together, or celebrating. One person will be celebrating, and all be celebrating for them, but secretly crying on the inside.
Oh, stop it.
You know what? I was having my little emotional journey via my Instagram over the last two days, 'cause I was just feeling a bit like, ‘I really want this, but also there's also nine other people who are just as deserving’. It's not fair to suggest that I deserve it any more than anybody else, and so there's that thing of competition where you're like "Oh, grr." And then I realised, as trite as it sounds, it’s just about whether I can go on stage and deliver a performance that I look back at and say, "I tried. I worked hard. I tried hard. I prepared and I did my best." I know it sounds really trite, but it's kinda true. That's all you can do, and if the judges choose someone else, or if the public chooses someone else, then so be it. My money's on Electric Fields. I'm gonna go down to the TAB and pop a bet on them later on.
Courtney Act: 'Fight For Love'
By Filly Adams, Sky Adams, Danny Shah and Shane Jenek
But are you keeping May free just in case?
Look, it is great. Yes, I will be back in London. I live in London now, and Dancing with the Stars finishes at the end of April, so I've checked the dates and it does all line up. I can make it back over there with enough time to rehearse the new show and head to Israel. But, I mean even if I don't win, I think it would be really fun to go. I've been here from the beginning. I'll just go as the water boy or the ball boy or something. The ball boy, that sounds fun.
Excellent. You mentioned that you’ve loved Eurovision for years. What are some of your standout acts?
It would be remiss of me to not mention Conchita Wurst or Dana International. There are others, I just remember, it must have been about '96, Dana won, I think? And there was no trans visibility back then. There was very little queer visibility. We had Priscilla. There was a blip in the '90s. People forget. We had Carlotta on our television. We had Priscilla. Full stop.
And then to have a trans woman not only being known in pop culture, but to win a Eurovision Song Contest, I just remember what that meant to me. It's a very validating thing. And I think the cool thing about Eurovision is that people are judged, of course, but they're not judged negatively for their difference. We're not trying to find someone who fits in to the pre-existing mould of pop stardom. We're looking for someone who entertains us and who makes us feel good, or just makes us feel.
If you look at the winners over the years, there's no consistent pattern to the winners
Right? They're always different. There's a celebration of that difference. You might be able to confirm this, but somebody said that Eurovision started after the world war.
Yes, it was devised as a way to reunite Europe
And yeah, I think that's just the beautiful thing about Eurovision. You see all of Europe, and now Australia, and all of the other countries, the bordering countries that have experienced conflict, everyone just comes together for one night to celebrate and put aside their differences, to celebrate pop music and have fun.
I think sometimes we underestimate the value of good times and fun and laughter and music. It's very easy to be side-tracked by really important things like politics and public policy, and social issues, but I think that sometimes we sort of undervalue what just a good time can actually do and how that can actually, in some ways, solve or contribute to the healing in a way that we probably don't really understand. Just seeing all of those countries celebrating and cheering for each other and cheering for countries that aren't their own, and voting for everybody.
Just that idea of all of those flags in one room, sort of like the United Nations of pop music.
Watch Courtney perform LIVE at the Gold Coast in 'Eurovision - Australia Decides', along with with Leea Nanos, Mark Vincent, Electric Fields, Sheppard, Kate Miller-Heidke, Aydan, Ella Hooper, Tania Doko, and Alfie Arcuri. Be a part of history and see it live at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
JURY PREVIEW SHOW
Friday 8 February, 7.30pm AEST (Not televised)
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
MATINEE PREVIEW SHOW
Saturday 9 February, 1.00pm AEST (Not televised)
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
LIVE TV FINAL
Saturday 9 February, 7.30pm AEST
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
Live and Exclusive TV Broadcast on SBS
To purchase tickets: https://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=EUROVISI19
Eurovision – Australia Decides airs Saturday 9 February live on SBS, when voting will be open to the public.
Broadcast times across Australia:
*Voting opens at 1:00am AEDT on Saturday 9 February. To register an SMS vote, voters must text the song number (as promoted in program) of their favourite Act to 1991 3773. Premium SMS must be enabled to vote. Voting costs $0.55 per vote and the maximum number of votes is 20 per mobile phone provider. By casting a valid vote for Eurovision – Australia Decides voters will automatically be entered into the “Eurovision – Australia Decides – Win the Ultimate Trip to the Gold Coast!” competition.