Australian Idol was just the beginning for Courtney Act’s impressive career

A look at their flourishing career.
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Courtney Act (Shane Gilberto Jenek) has become one of the most recognisable performers Australia-wide.

From their Drag roots to their reality TV stints, they continue to make their mark on the media landscape.

WATCH: Courtney Act auditions for Australian Idol

But how did Courtney become such a beloved fixture of the Australian media landscape?

To find out, we’ve taken a look back at her career – from Australian Idol to Dancing With The Stars.

From Shane to Courtney

When Shane Gilberto Jenek from Brisbane Australia met Sydney Drag queen Vanity Faire in 2002, his life changed forever.

Intrigued by the world of Drag, Shane was inspired to start his own career under the stage name: Courtney Act. That same year, she entered and won the Diva Rising Star competition.

Courtney is publicly gender fluid, going by the pronouns they/she/he. In an interview with Cosmopolitan in 2019, they explained that they “throw away the definitions of gender”.

Shane was inspired to start his own Drag career after meeting queen Vanity Faire. (Credit: Instagram)

“I do it on my own terms rather than based on what other people say I should do. It’s not just dressing up as Shane and as Courtney, because it’s about how I feel about myself.

“For my teen years and all of my twenties it felt like I was trying to live up to this expectation of being a man and what that meant – not just what clothes I wore, but how I acted. The flipside to that was repressing my femininity.

“I was always made to feel that men were desirable because of their masculinity, and for a boy, being feminine was not something you should be proud of. But, I came to realise it’s OK for boys to be feminine, for girls to be masculine and we should all express ourselves however we want.”

Courtney appeared on the first season of Australian Idol. (Credit: Ten)

Australian Idol

A year after donning her Courtney Act persona, the star auditioned for the inaugural season of Australian Idol.

While he first appeared as Shane, he failed to receive a ‘yes’ from judges Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson, Marcia Hines, and Mark Holden.

The next day, he re-auditioned for the show as Courtney Act, and managed to secure his place in the competition, becoming the first ever L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ to openly appear on a reality TV talent show.

“Shane only didn’t just cut it. You’ve added another dimension and you’ve blown us away,” Dicko told the performer at the time.

While Courtney failed to secure enough votes in the first round, she was brought back as a ‘Wildcard’ and ended the season in 13th place.

“I came to realise it’s OK for boys to be feminine, for girls to be masculine and we should all express ourselves however we want.” (Credit: Instagram)


Following her stint on Idol, Courtney procured a record deal with BMG Australia (now Sony Music Australia) with whom she released her debut single, Rub Me Wrong.

After the single failed to see huge success, the queen took a break from recording, eventually exiting her hiatus in 2015 with an album called Kaleidoscope.

The title track was later featured as the official song for the 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

RuPaul’s Drag Race

In 2013, after moving to California for overseas ventures, Courtney appeared on the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where she placed joint-runner up.

While Courtney said she loved her time on the show, she confessed she’d be hesitant to return for an All Stars version, as her on-screen persona didn’t align to her personal values.

Not only that, they revealed they weren’t certain they’d be welcomed back with open arms.

“I don’t know if some of the people in that panel are too fond of me, so I think that might have something to do with it as well. Like Ru and Michelle,” she revealed on the Werk with Trinity The Tuck podcast.

Courtney has also appeared on a number of other reality shows, including Celebrity Big Brother and Dancing With The Stars. (Credit: Ten)


Courtney has seen success in a number of TV shows; from winning Celebrity Big Brother UK in 2018, to playing herself on Neighbours in 2020, as well as becoming the host of ABC’s Courtney Act’s One Plus One.

The star is also competing in the 2022 Dancing With The Stars: All Stars, alongside an A-list line up of returning celebs. When the queen first appeared on the talent show in 2019, she and her partner Joshua Keefe came second.

Not only were they the first drag performer in the history of the franchise, they were also the first to perform as part of a same-sex pairing.

When it comes to her ever-growing media career, Courtney remains an incredible form of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ representation, consistently calling for more diversity in mainstream spaces.

“When people get to hear [a] diversity of stories – whether that’s gender, sexuality, race, age, disability – all of those different stories that for so long haven’t been told, when those stories get told in the mainstream, they change the world for the better,” the star told The Guardian.

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