Schapelle Corby is set to make her small screen debut this month on SAS Australia.
But before we watch as the convicted drug smuggler endures the gruelling challenges of Australia’s top soldiers, she sat down with Stellar Magazine for a candid chat, explaining why she decided to go on the show.
Trailers for SAS Australia see Corby break down in tears as she attempts the physically demanding tests devised as part of Channel 7’s new show, which follows 17 celebrities as they take on the selection process for the elite army Special Forces.
“I’m resigned to it. I have to be. I have learnt to deal with it so the public needs to accept it. Like it or not, it’s what it is,” she said.
As she points out, there’s no-one in the country aged over 15 that doesn’t know her name or have an opinion on her.
Describing a recent phone call with a tax scammer, Corby laughed as she recalled how the fraudster — clearly unaware who he was talking to — threatened to ruin her clean criminal record.
The caller had accused her of not paying her taxes, and insisted if she didn’t pay the outstanding money immediately, a tax officer would come to her home and take her to the local courthouse.
“For 15 minutes my heart was breaking. I couldn’t calm down. I was so, so scared,” Corby shared of the phone call.
But then the caller said something that stopped her in her tracks. “If you don’t pay this money you could go to jail for six years,” he said. “Do you really want that? I’ve pulled up your file and I can see you’re a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record.”
Corby, 43, went on to recall how she got the last laugh.
“Are you kidding me?” she told him.
“Actually, I was sentenced to 20 years in prison in another country and I was deported back home three years ago.”
Corby is finally emerging from the trauma and mental breakdown caused by the nine years she spent in a Bali prison after being convicted of drug trafficking.
She said her decision to take part in SAS Australia has been pivotal in her healing.
“I saw it as the ultimate psychological test,” she said.
“I knew I was strong physically, but I’ve suffered severe catatonic mental illness. There’s always this little thought in the back of my head that I could lose my mind again.”
SAS Australia, which lets “recruits” voluntarily withdraw at any time, includes challenges such as falling out of a helicopter into freezing water, sleep deprivation and interrogation by ex-Special Forces soldiers.
“Being shouted at is completely normal for me but, don’t forget, I’ve been sitting down for a good part of the past 15 years,” Corby said.
But she said the experience was worth it to “put herself out there” again.
“There is a lot of hate towards me, I get that,” she said.
“But it’s not about what people think of me. I’m not trying to change their perceptions or give them more to hate. I really don’t care what people think of me. I’m at that point of my life now where I am not hurting anybody. This was about whether I could get control of my mind. It was for myself, and I’m so proud I did it.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Corby opened up about her relationship with Ben Panangian, a 38-year-old stand-up paddle board instructor she met while in prison.
The pair maintain a long-distance relationship and haven’t seen each other since February 2019.
Telling the magazine she’s “not sexy” while apart from her beau, Corby revealed that she has hopes to become a mother some day.
“I don’t put too much emphasis on thinking about what I’ve lost,” she said of her time spent in prison.
“If it’s possible for me to have a child, OK, but I’m not going to dwell too much because there’s nothing I can change about that. But I could be still young enough.”
Read the full interview with Schapelle Corby in the current issue of Stellar, available in the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun, on sale Sunday, October 4.