Comedic writer and actress Magda Szubanski has experienced some incredible highs and lows within a year, from campaigning relentlessly for the same-sex marriage ‘Yes’ vote that resulted in success on Nov. 15 to losing her mother Margaret at the age of 92 in September.
“You’ve had an enormous 12 months… how are you feeling?” asked host Andrew Denton when Szubanski, 57, sat down for a candid chat on his Seven series Interview. “Tired, tired, tired, tired,” Szubanski said. “I said love, I said pet, I said tired,” she added, referencing her classic character Lynne Postlethwaite.
“It has been the toughest year of my life without question, mostly because of mum but the marriage equality stuff was something I was so proud to do,” Szubanski said. “But I just felt so nervous the whole time because if I put a foot wrong, I could be blowing it for everyone and I ended up kind of becoming the face of it and I was like ‘How did that happen?’ It meant that I just felt a tremendous responsibility so and I think I just haven’t had a proper break since then.”
Szubanski, who came out publicly in 2012 on The Project, had been a vocal supporter of marriage equality. When the results of a postal-vote survey revealed that 61.6 per cent of Australians believed that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples the right to marry, Szubanski says that she was flooded with “relief. Just relief. Every single one of us who were involved in that level of campaigning were so terrified that it might just by a narrow margin not get through or that it wouldn’t get through enough… I can feel heart palpitations even thinking about, it was honestly nothing other than relief and then the other feelings came after it but it was just like phew, thank God.”
Despite the terrific result, Szubanski said her thoughts turned to her mother. “I wished she’d been here to see the vote,” she said, choking up with tears. “I think it would have made her happy, not just for me, but for all of my friends as well but for also what it meant for this country.”
With the timing of both events, Szubanski conceded, “I think that’s probably why I’m so tired… because I did have the armour on through that marriage equality vote, I really didn’t get to process it.” Despite the armour, Szubanksi, along with her brother and sister, took turns in spending time with their mother and all three children were there when she passed. “I was there for her the whole time… like seven days mum took to die, it was brutal,” she said. “We don’t talk about that a lot, how it’s actually f---ing traumatic watching someone die.”
Following Margaret’s passing, Szubanski mixed both her mother and father’s ashes together and she keeps them in her wardrobe. “I’m a cling on, can’t even scatter them,” she said. While she doesn’t talk to them, she says she’s “very aware of them” both.
'Interview with Andrew Denton' airs Tuesdays at 8.45 PM on Seven.