"How Aboriginal are you though?"
Orange-born and raised actor, singer and dancer Jarrod Draper - who has been announced as a cast member for Moulin Rouge! The Musical in Melbourne - has these words posted on his Instagram page.
It is a question he has been asked for as long as he can remember, and for this proud Wiradjuri man with an Indigenous dad and non-Indigenous mum, it cuts every time.
"It's probably the question I've been asked the most," Mr Draper said.
What do people expect in response - a percentage?
"I really don't know ... it's really quite offensive, I won't lie to you, but I try to navigate with grace and strength.
"I have a fantastic role model in my father, and have always been taught that being Aboriginal, and the circumstances Aboriginal people have lived through, I don't have to quantify myself to you, because I identify as Aboriginal and I am Aboriginal.
"I sometimes go so far as to say, 'Well, if you look at the history of Australia, it wasn't my choice for my skin colour to be this way; Australia was colonised and this is the consequence Aboriginal people have faced'.
"I'll always give people the space to air how they feel and then we can have a discussion about it."
A decade ago, at 14, Mr Draper left James Sheahan Catholic High School and went to board at Barker College on Sydney's North Shore for years 10-12.
He then left Sydney to become the first Indigenous musical theatre graduate from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
These experiences, and his short career so far in showbusiness, have left him determined to blaze a trail that other young Indigenous people can follow.
"Going to [Barker College] from a rural country town, it was hard to find my feet," Mr Draper said.
"I don't think many people at the school had been around someone who was Aboriginal, so it was interesting to navigate through that.
"I was very grateful I was the first Indigenous person to go through [WAAPA's] music theatre course after 40-odd years.
"[But] it was really challenging to represent and live authentically, because I was surrounded by people who didn't understand my experience as an Aboriginal man."
The Black Lives Matter movement in the US and the coronavirus pandemic forced showbiz elite "to sit still and confront the lack of diversity in the industry ... 2020 was a huge turning point, especially for me, as I felt I was able to step into myself; before that I felt like I had to fit into a box."
Mr Draper - who returned to Orange for much of 2020 - is involved in pre-production tasks such as costume fitting, ahead of Moulin Rouge! The Musical's opening in August at Melbourne's Regent Theatre.
As with many in theatrical circles, he is itching to again tread the boards and experience the adrenalin rush of opening night.
"The musical follows the same journey, with all the classic [songs] everyone knows from the movie, but it's been updated a little bit in terms of some new pop music.
"It's quite the spectacle."
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