Magda in Toowoomba: 'People like me ain't a threat'
"PEOPLE like me, we ain't a threat."
Those are the words of one of Australia's most beloved actresses and one of the faces of the same-sex marriage plebiscite's "Yes" campaign Magda Szubanski.
Ms Szubanski spoke to The Chronicle on Saturday night before she addressed a crowd of more than 500 at The Toowoomba Hospital Foundation's Magda at the Mills event on what it was like to be a "woman of strength".
But a "woman of strength" wasn't quite how she saw herself.
"I would describe myself as a woman of putty. Malleable," she said.
"I think the thing is that I don't see myself as a woman of strength. I just keep on going and I always think I'm a weak person and I just keep plodding on.
"It doesn't mean you have to be ballsy or ball-breaking to be strong. It's just persistence, but also flexibility."
Ms Szubanski said becoming the face of the "Yes" campaign was accidental.
"It's better if it's someone who is gay and a celebrity rather than just a celebrity," she said.
"Startlingly there are not a lot of A-list gay celebrities in Australia.
"I'm fortunate to have the gift of the gab and to be able to speak for people who don't really have a voice.
"It came at a very difficult time in my life and it wasn't really what I wanted but life never stops. There's always stuff going on for everyone and I think it's an important issue for all of the country.
"We were all very upset it (the plebiscite) was a survey. We didn't want the divisiveness of it.
"I think going forward, no matter what the result is, we have to do a lot of healing work to heal the rifts that have been created and correct some of the misinformation because people like me, we ain't a threat.
"I think the thing is now, post Trump and post Brexit, we don't know whether to trust polls.
"I think there's a great willingness on the part of the Australian public, I think some people have been swayed - people are time-poor and don't have time to pick through some of the arguments and some stuff has been put out there that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue that might have made people who were otherwise fine about it concerned."
Szubanski, who is currently not in a relationship, describes herself as an "old softie" at heart. She said she hoped "for so many reasons" that the vote would come through as a "Yes".
She said she respected the right of people to vote "No", but hoped as time went on and people heard from people like herself, that they saw that they were only 10 per cent of the population and they could not "destabilise the whole institution".
"Really a lot of it is about having protections. An untruth that has been put out there is that we have the same rights and we don't. It's a very technical thing when it gets down to it, especially next of kin rights.
"Having just gone through that with my mother I would hate to be in a situation with a partner, trying to prove that I have the right to make those sorts of medical decisions.
"I think for the soul of the nation, equality is very important.
"That's why my father moved here from eastern Europe, because it's an egalitarian society. It's one of the greatest attributes this country has and I don't think you can have 10 per cent not equal."
Szubanski's latest project, Sisters, has just aired on television.
"It was really fun. It was great for me to do a character with more drama to it," she said.
"My character is a bit of a b**** but there's more to her. You don't know where she's going with stuff, she seems a bit scheming."
Ms Szubanski said she really enjoyed working with the Sisters cast as well as the cast members and writers of one of her latest films, Three Summers, due for release in early November.
"It's a really joyous comedy about a music festival - and I love music festivals," she said.
She said Australia was very creative and a very smart country, but it was a tough market having to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
"We've always punched way above our weight in terms of the international film and TV industries, so hopefully we'll keep doing that."
Toowoomba Hospital Foundation chief executive officer Alison Kennedy said it was an "absolute pleasure" to host Ms Szubanski at the event.
"Magda is a remarkable person and is a real example of a Woman of Strength."
All funds raised at the event will go toward supporting the Mt Lofty Heights Nursing Home.