On the Couch with Jarrod Draper

SUNSET-BOULEVARD-Jarrod-Draper-photo-by-Ben-KingWho is Jarrod Draper?
Jarrod Draper is a proud Aboriginal man from the Wiradjuri nation. He is a resilient, passionate and empathetic person who cares deeply about others and the world around him. He’s a family man, with a wonderful partner, who wants to make a difference in the world with the very fortunate life that he gets to live.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I think I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, doing exactly what I’m meant to be doing. Everything that has happened to me in my life, the good and the bad, prepared me for what I’m doing right now. And I honestly don’t know how to do anything else other than this. Telling stories. I believe it’s an innate part of my being, as storytelling so often is in Aboriginal people and culture.

Who inspires you and why?
My family inspire me. My parents in particular. That may sound cliché, but they are truly some of the most grounded, gentle and caring people. Their hearts and minds are so open to the world around them, and they teach me what it is to navigate through the world with humility, empathy and compassion. Their lives are spent giving back to their respective communities, and it’s exactly what I want to emulate in my own life. They have absolutely nothing to do with the performing arts industry, but the morals they lead their lives with are so easily translated into what I do. They are the greatest and truest form of the human condition.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I want to use this platform that I’ve been given to show what it is to have an Aboriginal person succeed in the Australian performing arts industry. Especially in Musical Theatre. I want to be the person that other Indigenous kids see, that makes them believe there is a space for them on the stage, and on the screen. I want to break down the doors, and bridge the gap. When I was younger, I never had someone like me as a leading man, and wouldn’t it be cool to give that to someone else so they don’t discount themselves the way that I maybe did because I didn’t see myself in what was being presented to me.

Then to further that, I want to be able to engage in nuanced conversations about what it is to be an Aboriginal person, and how important our stories are to the fabric of this country, and specifically this industry. I believe the best artists are the ones that do it for something bigger than themselves. It’s not about a self serving prophecy of being a star to me. It’s about what I can do and what I can say with the talents and life that I’ve been given. And how I pay it forward for those to come. It’s grounded, and rooted in something much bigger than just me, and I hope that people trust me enough to take on this much needed role.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday destination that I’ve been to thus far is Fiji. I find it’s an great place that balances relaxation and action. But beyond that, it’s an incredibly beautiful and gentle culture. The local people make you feel so welcomed, and I love how prideful they are of where they live. They cherish the simple things, and I think that’s always something to remember. A future holiday destination is Japan, where my sister has just moved for work, so that may very well take the top spot. I’ll let you know!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Melbourne has the best food scene so I’d certainly count some of the restaurants here as main attractions. I’d pick a favourite and have a night out. Tokyo Tina always goes down a treat with me.

What are you currently reading?
I’m not a huge reader. It’s something I’m trying to work on, but I will say my favourite book of recent is The Tattooist of Auschwitz. What an incredibly inspiring story of resilience that is.

What are you currently listening to?
Gosh, I have such an eclectic taste in music. It really depends on the day. I really love all genres. I grew up with a lot of Country and Jazz influences, as well as mainstream pop. Later in life I’ve gotten into a lot of RnB. But if I’m specific, Beyoncé’s new album is always a go to at the moment. And I’m really on the Chappell Roan train as of late. If you don’t know her, you should look her up. Some absolute bops.

Happiness is?
Happiness is living my best life with all the things I love around me. I’m lucky enough to say that’s what I’m doing right now. True happiness.

What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully getting to continue doing what I’m doing. Bigger and better. I do think the best is yet to come, and I’m only getting started. We’ll see!

Jarrod stars as Artie Green in the epic new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard – which is currently playing at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre until 11 August, before playing the Sydney Opera House from 28 August 2024. For more information, visit: www.sunsetmusical.com.au for details.

Image: Jarrod Draper – photo by Ben King