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Queer Conversations: Interview with Courtney Act


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From runner-up of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2013 to this year’s winner of Celebrity Big Brother, Courtney Act has been pushing the boundaries of success for queer entertainers in mainstream media.

An accomplished singer, performer and TV personality, Act not only uses her drag to entertain but is a strong advocate for transgender issues, bringing conversations on non-binary gender identities, masculinity and other topics to new audiences in the US and the UK.

Amidst the craziness of her first London Pride, Courtney took the time to talk to The National Student about her new chat show, creating space for diversity, life after Celebrity Big Brother and DragWorld.


It was just announced that you’re getting your own late-night talk show with Channel 4, could you tell us a bit about it?

I can’t give away too much but, basically, we’re working with Channel 4 to make this variety chat show which is really exciting because I’ve always dreamed of that Sonny & Cher era of variety show television. I loved watching those old 70s shows so am looking forward to bringing a bit of that vibe into a 2018 context.

What are you looking forward to most about hosting your own show?

The musical numbers, I love the idea of doing musical numbers whether that be with a band or costumes or choreography. I feel like I was born to do this type of stuff so I’m thrilled to bring it to the show.


Having your own show a big achievement to say the least, along with your win on Celebrity Big Brother. What were some of the reactions you received from people watching the show, especially as the show reached people who might otherwise not have much exposure to drag and the LGBTQ community?

It’s been amazing – I remember being in the back of a black taxi one day and he said to me, “I really loved you on celebrity big brother”. I asked what it was that he loved and he replied, “I loved the conversations that you had with people and I loved you and Andrew. Watching the two of you I could tell there was real love there and my wife loved watching that too.”

It’s a fascinating thing that the straight taxi driver’s favourite thing was seeing two boys express love on television, that’s a sign of the times. I think getting to see people be themselves and have honest conversations, even if it’s different to your own experience, helps to breed a sense of understanding.

I was just listening to your episode of the ‘Whimsically Volatile’, a podcast run by fellow Drag Race Alum Katya and her friend Craig. I was struck by your conversation on masculinity and embracing gender fluidity - how do think people can encourage discussions around these topics?

By talking about them and especially giving space to trans voices and non-binary voices, so they can have those conversations on their own terms. When you start to hear stories that don’t just sound like your own, the wider your scope of understanding is. Growing up I never got to hear my story being told in the media, not even the story of a gay man or queer narrative, whereas now I know my story and I need to hear stories of people other than myself.

I really want my Channel 4 show to be a space for these stories and for diversity. If people are coming to watch my show they’re expecting something different so I think that’s a great pathway to more diversity, not just between men and women but people of all sorts, cis, trans, people of different colours and abilities.


What is something that you wish more people knew about you?

I have a webbed toe but I don’t know if that’s vital information. I feel like CBB really showed a side of me that wasn’t seen on Drag Race which is that I like to have conversations and understand things for different perspectives. I think picking a side is important but I like to hear what other people have to say and be willing to change and learn. People perhaps don’t know as much about me as a performer from CBB so getting to showcase my performances more is something I look forward to.

You’re going to be at DragWorld in August, will it be your first time at the convention?

It is, I’ve been to Drag Con in LA but never to DragWorld. I’m really looking forward to it because a bunch of my friends went last year and had glowing reports. Sometimes those days can be hectic for the queens but they said it was really fun, and that there’s good lighting which is always vital.

What do you enjoy most about these conventions?

My first year at Drag Con I was with my friend Vanity and sometimes I can be too close to the phenomenon to see it objectively. We were coming down the escalator and Vanity said to me, “all these people are here…for drag queens. Take your mind back to when we were starting drag, getting an audience of 10 people and shitty budgets and now here we are, in an LA convention centre, with tens of thousands of people, it’s insane.” She was mind boggled and she helped me really appreciate it. It’s amazing to see so many people appreciating drag and I love meeting all the people who come and understanding how drag is special to them.

Head to to buy Courtney Act’s Meet and Greet tickets for the UK’s biggest drag convention, taking place at London’s Olympia on the 18th-19th of August.  

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