Topping the leader board week in and out has been an achievement for drag queen Courtney Act, but nothing has made her more proud than being accepted by her co-stars and homeland.
"I didn't find opportunities to get up on stage as a boy, but I found them to get up on stage in drag," Courtney, who was born Shane Jenek, tells TV WEEK of discovering her stage persona at age 18.
"For a long time, I compartmentalised it and treated it as a job, but I sort of realised this compartmentalisation was because there was a shame in our society about what I did and about femininity."
Courtney says it wasn't until Tango Week that she understood how important it was to accept herself for who she is.
"I had a conversation with Chaz Bono [the US trailblazer for LGBTQI rights] about identity and gender, and how it's OK for boys to be feminine – which I always was, but felt shame about," she says.
"I realised it was important to express my femininity," adding that this process of acceptance started on night one of the competition.
"I remember looking down the line of guys and girls – the boys were in black tuxes and shirts, and the women were in fabulous costumes – and I was like, 'Yeah, I've made the right decision.'"
Now that Courtney has conquered Australian Idol, RuPaul's Drag Race, Celebrity Big Brother, The Bi Life and Dancing With The Stars, what's next? Well, anything but I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!
"It looks like a dreadful time!" she says. "I think I'd love to focus more on a variety or chat show."
Dancing With The Stars airs Monday, 7:30pm, on Network 10.
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