For over 30 years, Magda Szubanski has been famous for playing characters. But in 2017, the comedian and writer was purely herself, putting her own personal life at the heart of a public cause.
Szubanski, 56, turned activist to become the public face and touchstone of the ‘Yes’ vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey.
“I was very, very happy to speak for people,” she tells The New Daily, calling the year “One of those ones I will never forget for so many reasons. To feel that you’ve helped inch the country forward to being a kinder place, to have played any small part in that, you just feel nothing but humility and gratitude.”
How was your 2017?
The saddest, happiest year of my life. My mum died. The marriage equality happened right in the middle of my mum dying, so it was very brutal. A year of extremely intense emotion. I’m so relieved going into this [time] when mum won’t be here that at least the country has got my back. It’s an amazing feeling.
Was it confronting having your real life as the focus of headlines?
I am much more shy than people would think, but my work has always led me out of that. It’s classic. So many performers, we’re those strange creatures who are quite introverted but are like moths that are drawn to the flame. For me, it’s actually been a really healing thing. The acceptance that I’ve received from the Australian people since I came out has been incredibly healing for me.
Talk us through the day the bill passed in Parliament.
That whole day, hanging on to my bladder for 14 hours, it was seriously worth it. It was extraordinary. I was literally dancing on the lawns of Parliament. I ended up in a rowdy pub with a lot of politicians. They know how to party, those guys. It was an incredibly joyous moment. They were all there, Albo [Anthony Albanese], Penny Wong, George Brandis. It was really great to see what the Parliament can achieve when it’s bipartisan.
How do you relax?
I’m a ping-pong girl. I love a jigsaw. A friend got me a Wonder Woman jigsaw, which is what got me through this whole process. I love entertaining at home.
Speaking of love, do you want to be married?
I’m single. I’d love to get married. This is a big personal ad! I’m not in a personal position at the moment that I’m going to go out and get married myself, but in the longer term if I meet that person, I’d love to. But, who knows? Maybe I’m not capable of it.
Do you have a busy wedding calendar ahead?
I’m contemplating becoming a celebrity celebrant. I’m only half joking. I think it would be cool. I love weddings. I’d do a good wedding, I bloody would. I’m really looking forward to attending wedding. If I don’t get invites, I’ll be so f—g angry. I can see I’m going to need to invest my money at a high-interest rate otherwise I’m not going to be able to afford all the presents and frocks. I think I’ll just have to design myself a multi-purpose wedding outfit, a wedding onesie.
What would your own wedding look like?
I would presumably plan it in consultation with my partner rather than just have my ‘bridezilla’ version of events preconceived. It is something that comes out of the relationship, rather than something that’s imposed. We know how hard it is to find love. We know how hard it is to keep it.
From A-list stars to politicians and athletes, we’ve named the 13 Australians who made headlines and sparked conversations – both heated and admiring – across the nation in 2017. Some covered themselves in glory. Some created controversy. Some made reputations, others lost them. From the cricket arena to the same sex marriage battlefield, regardless of whether they were beloved or booed, their personal and professional wins and downfalls had us talking over dinner tables and media channels.