Catherine Alcorn: Going her own way
Updated: Mar 4, 2019
When Sydney cabaret sensation, Catherine Alcorn, took the rare opportunity to enjoy a girls’ night out after a performance last year, like many mums, she expected an evening to relax and unwind over girl talk, dinner, cocktails and dancing.
And so it came as a shock when an audience member pulled her aside at the bar and said, “Can I tell you something? Don’t wear your gold dress anymore. My friend and I saw you tonight and you look 20 pounds lighter than in your show the other evening.”
The encounter led Catherine to an interview with Lisa Wilkinson on Channel 10’s, The Project, and into an unexpected role as an ambassador for body positivity.
But the award-winning artist hasn’t always felt so confident within herself. Despite having been described as “a jewel in the crown of Australian entertainment” with a voice of “voluptuous power”, Catherine has shared candidly about experiences of being teased during childhood about her weight and then bypassed for roles in the entertainment industry due to her size 12-14 body.
So how has she risen above her critics to make her triumphant USA and Sydney Opera House debuts this year alone, also playing to sold out audiences around the world in her most famous role as The Divine Miss Bette?
We caught up with her this month to find out.
WINDO: Catherine, you have candidly shared about your experiences since childhood being teased and judged about your weight and your fear of not fitting the mould. How has that changed as you’ve matured?
CA: Turning 30 liberated me! As did becoming a Mother. I stopped caring; about things beyond my control, where I didn’t fit in, what jobs I wasn’t booking, how I looked and those unrealistic industry moulds I was never going to fit into. That’s why I love getting older.
Maturing, and enjoying the perspective that comes with that, is a gift. So many people are not afforded the same fate in life. I’ve had friends pass away way too young, so I now find it sad when people complain about their age, or their wrinkles or obsess over their physicality. You’re alive! We’re here for such a short time that we need to make the most of it and not worry about things beyond our control.
Besides, it’s not about what you look like. It’s about the person you are and what you can offer the world. I’m not meant to fit any mould other than the one I’m in.
Having an 18 month old also means I’m literally too tired to care.
WINDO: You have shared about your struggles with your insecurities that I think all women can relate to. How have you been able to rise above that to become such a powerhouse with a career on stage?
CA: A few years ago, I came across a quote by Teddy Roosevelt that blew my mind.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”.
The effect was instant. I looked up from the page and sat quietly for a few moments, taking in this new found mental freedom.
I’m in show business for Heaven’s sake. One of THE most comparative and competitive industries there is but since reading Teddy’s words, that quote has become my life mantra and it has helped me refocus my energy and where I invest it. Once you learn to stay in your lane, your potential is limitless.
With Social Media, it’s easier now more than ever to compare ourselves to other people and their lives. It’s dangerous and can really drag you down. We are inundated with manufactured stories, and it’s important to remember that that’s exactly what they are.
Maybe it’s Maybelline. Maybe it’s bullshit.
Self reflection is very important in overcoming image issues. Change and self love comes from within, so owning and recognising your behavioural patterns, your strengths and your weaknesses is paramount.
WINDO: What do you think other women struggling with their self image can learn from that?
CA: We put so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves, and for what? At the end of the day you’re here, you’re alive and you’re perfect. Embrace your individuality. No one can do what you do.
Self reflection is very important in overcoming image issues. Change and self love comes from within, so owning and recognising your behavioural patterns, your strengths and your weaknesses is paramount. It has taken me years of kinesiology to get to this point of self acceptance.
Surrounding yourself with people who raise your vibration and celebrate you for exactly who you are also helps!
WINDO: What does it mean for you to come along and headline an event like Steppin' Out?
CA: It’s wonderful! It means I get to return to Noosa, one of my all time favourite places, to share an evening with a room full of people who have come together to celebrate how badass we all are.
WINDO: What can audiences expect seeing you perform on the night?
Normally I would have chucked in a routine with the splits, but post pregnancy I still have to cross my legs when I sneeze so...yeah, just a couple of roof raisers.
WINDO: What’s ahead for you in 2019?
CA: Shows, projects and tours. Oh my!
The Divine Miss Bette’s national tour kicks off next week in Alice Springs before I head back to the Gold Cost to play the inaugural GC Laughs Festival at HOTA on March 24. The festival line up is amazing, chock full of comedy superstars, so it’s an honour...for them to be on the same bill as me.
Projects wise, I’m doing lots of writing. Phil Scott and I are currently working on our new show will premiere later in the year, I’m writing a tv series and shoot a web series pilot next week.
All of that happens before I head back to the US for another Miss Bette season and in between raising our darling 18 month old, Jackson.
What’s even sleep!
Catherine Alcorn will headline the all-singing, all-dancing celebration of women, Steppin Out, at The J Noosa, this International Women's Day, Friday March 8. Tickets for this ultimate girls' night out on sale now. Click here for more info.