Katie Beckett gets match ready

Katie Beckett images captured by Luke Currie-Richardson

How do you prepare to step into the shoes of a living legend?

Stage and screen performer and writer Katie Beckett is getting ready for the role of a lifetime as she puts on the Dunlop Volleys of much-loved sporting superstar Evonne Goolagong-Cawley for the premiere of Andrea James’ Sunshine Super Girl next month.

We caught up with Katie in between rehearsals to hear what Evonne’s story means to her and how she’s preparing for the iconic role.

Hi! You’re Katie Beckett. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I am a Murrawarri woman. My grandmother is Rita West, and my dad is Les Beckett from Bollon, an extremely small town near Goodooga and Lighting Ridge. 

I am a mother to a beautiful, intelligent and super funny 11 year old boy. And as of the 23rd of June 2020, I am now also a Great Aunty. So I guess you can call me “Katherine the Great” now. Hahaha. Gammon. 

But I am also a writer and actor for stage and screen. I am currently working with GoalPost on a new TV series, and wrote on series one and two of The Heights on ABC. I’m currently creating a kids webseries, and just had a play reading over Zoom for a new work I have been working on with Belvoir. 

Things are opening up a bit in New South Wales again, but Covid is still very much with us. How have you been going during this time?

I…have absolutely loved lockdown. In this line of work, you find yourself jumping from one job to another with little to no rest, and being a single mum, that can get extra tiring! So I have loved having time to slow down, show myself selflove and care, and really connect with my son. Except when I had to teach him mathsthat is stressful, I just don’t know why he couldn’t bloody get it! But besides that, loved it.

 

So someone asks you “what’s this Sunshine Super Girl show?”…what do you say?

It is a play about the wonderfully, super talented Evonne Goolagong. It’s a heart-warming and spirited work.

It celebrates the legacy of who she is and the mark she made on the world, and the pride she brought to us as blackfellas, and the pride she brought all Australians. 

What is it like thinking about playing a legend like Evonne? How are you preparing for the role?

I am extremely excited as well as extremely nervous. There’s a lot of pressure playing someone who everyone knows and thinks of fondly. She is so iconic – a true legend.  But I am super excited to take on the challenge and give it my all.

I have been going to the gym five days a week, I have a personal trainer and a tennis coach I see every week. I have also been doing cardio boxing classes twice a week to help with endurance and foot work.

I’ve also been doing some of the same things as Evonne, skipping, eating steak, fish and salad. I’m getting really experimental with my salad making, taking salads to the next level. Nah, hahaha.

I also changed my lifestyle – I have been living completely sober and have been focusing a lot on my wellbeing – spiritually, emotionally and mentally. 

What does Evonne and her story mean to you?

Evonne is such an inspiration, she makes me want to be best version of myself I can be. Her story gives hope, self-belief, determination. Even through hard and difficult times, there is light at the end.

 

While it’s quite a well-known story, is there any part of it that really surprised you?

All the sacrifices she made to play – there’s one huge tragic family event which happened, she was I think one win away to winning the tournament, and she never made it back for it. But there are many others, leaving home at a young age, giving up so much of your life and living for the sport. It’s amazing!

Evonne and Andrea by Jhuny-Boy Borja

How’s your backhand at the moment?

Luckily for me, I am a natural at the backhand! I have just started learning the single-handed backhand.

My tennis coach has been watching clips of how Evonne played. So we have been doing more of the 70’s and 80’s style of playing and really working the court.


Sunshine Super Girl by Andrea James
Runs 7 to 10 October 2020 at Griffith Regional Theatre

More info and Tickets

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