By Jana Angeles
Bright and bubbly, it’s not everyday you come across a person like Courtney Clarke. Since being selected as part of the cast for popular children’s TV group, Hi-5, Clarke describes the job as ‘the dream’. Coming from Lithgow, Blue Mountains NSW, she has seized every opportunity and it’s only taken her a step closer to living the life she’s always wanted. From her enthusiasm, it was obvious how quickly she settled in the job because of the people she was working with.
“One of the things that really stuck out to me since we got the job is how quickly we all connected,” she explained. “We’ve all been really lucky we gelled quite quickly as a group and it benefits the performances like nothing else. It just brings this amazing energy to the stage.”
Competing against 450 other applicants, it wasn’t an easy run to gain a slot for Hi-5 stardom, but Clarke enjoyed the audition process regardless. Meeting like-minded people similar to her eased the anxiety and stress of being ‘the best of the best’.
“The audition process was a very full on run. It was like five or six days and it was supposed to only be three,” she said. “Everyone at the beginning of the audition kind of dropped off from hundreds down to fifty, and fifty down to twenty, and then it would go back up to thirty. It was really confusing but they had a really hard time deciding who would be that five because they did just have a miraculous amount of talent in the audition process. I still don’t know how they chose it.”
With rehearsals, shooting and promotional activities filling up her days, Clarke was just humbled to even be part of Hi-5. To her, it was something she always dreamed of doing and it gave her art as a performer meaning. With Hi-5’s legacy of providing a fun and interactive show for kids, she knew much of her work was important: every dance, every scene and every song.
“We’re only the smallest part of how this show kind of functions,” she said. “Just getting on and doing our own thing. It takes so many people for the show to kinda come together and that’s what I probably admire the most is the dedication of everyone in their job.
“The series is about the kids, not about having something amazing. Every time we were given a direction from our director, it was really based on how the kids were going to react to this; how they were going to feel loved. I just admire that the product is based around the audience, which is kids and giving them something amazing. That’s something hard to find in this industry so I’m very lucky to be working in a job where it’s about the product and the people.”
Her passion for making a difference in a child’s life was important to Clarke. Not only in her work on Hi-5 but post-HSC, she took a gap year and spent a couple of trips in Cambodia. From there, she had the opportunity to work on different projects – one of which was building a primary school for the children. Through their hardship and making the most of what they had, it was a life-changing experience for Clarke.
“I could tell you all the lessons I’ve learnt from that sort of thing but it was just so amazing to go spend time there,” she stated. “Funnily enough, I was going over there to try and love people but all I received was love. Like they’re just so kind and so caring and they just want to play with you. All the kids just want to play and they don’t have any boundaries and they’re just so open. It was like a really life-altering experience to spend time there and experiencing their culture.”
During her teenage years, Clarke was a very active member in the community arts of Lithgow. She took part in all aspects of performing arts and volunteered in several community-run events. With her town being made up of mostly elderly people, she explained that within the last ten years, the foundation of arts has grown in Lithgow. Feeling proud of her opportunities back at home, she was humbled to have grown from such a tight-knit community.
“I guess one of the beauties about a small town is that everyone is so connected and knows each other,” she said. “Everyone is also so supportive since I’ve gotten the job. It really does show when you come from a small town just how supportive the community is, as well as all that other stuff. Everyone is just so accommodating and really caring and they want you to do well and you kind of need that if you want go out and give something a try.”
Being part of Hi-5 means a long-time commitment and Clarke is just happy and grateful to be in the position that she’s in. With so many things lined up for her, Hi-5 is an opportunity she wants to invest in completely. With very little spare time in her hands, she just wants to make the most of everything and for that, she’s genuinely lucky to land a job she absolutely loves.
“For me, this job is like the biggest thing in the world and it is very time-consuming but I want to put my whole heart into it,” she said. “I just want to throw everything I have into making it into a really good opportunity, making sure I’m giving all of my everything to kind of anything they present us with.”