What were your thoughts about getting involved in the reboot?
I mean, when they asked me I was like, first of all I’m so excited that it’s coming back. And, of course, I wanted to be involved because this show literally changed my life. I think I auditioned in 2004 and the show started in 2003, so it’s going to be 20 years since it first kicked off that we’re coming back. This show is such an iconic show and it’s been such a huge part of so many people’s lives. Like on the daily I still have people coming up to me in the street, when I’m doing my groceries or at the gym. And they’re saying that they were obsessed with me on Idol or they voted for me on Idol, or they couldn’t go to school after I got voted off like, “I cried for weeks when you got voted off!” So you know, for it to be coming back is incredible. It’s such an amazing opportunity for these young singers and also for me to be part of it.
And you’ve been a presenter on the show before. How has this time compared?
Well, this time is very different. Last time it was Osher [Günsberg] and James [Mathison] – they were hosting the show and I was just doing backstage mentoring kind of stuff with the contestants. But this time, I’m running the goddamn show – this is crazy for me! I think the coolest thing about hosting the show is that all of the contestants know that I’ve stood in their shoes. So I’m a familiar face, a friendly face and someone that they know understands exactly what they’re going through.
Was it easy to relate to the contestants?
Totally. We spend a lot of time as hosts with the contestants, we’re with them every step of the way. When they’re not in with the judges, they’re hanging out with us. So we’re such a big part of it for them. I know how important it is to have someone that you can trust and go to, and I think because I’ve been through it I can kind of help clear their minds of anything that’s not important. I can make sure that when you go in there you can just sing your face off.
What was it like working with the new panel of judges?
Amazing, amazing. Harry [Connick Jr] and Meghan [Trainor] have been amazing to get to know and to hang out with. And, you know, even though they’re big US superstars, they’re just like us … They’re not divas, they’re not having tantrums and, you know, asking for all white furniture in their dressing rooms. They’re just lovely, cool, successful, down-to-earth, talented artists. Hearing their stories and getting to know them has just been awesome. And Amy [Shark] and I went to school together as kids – we were like besties in high school and have stayed friends. So it’s awesome that these two little kids from Southport High are doing this massive, iconic, huge TV show together. It’s really cool. And Kyle [Sandilands] is amazing, he’s a big teddy bear and he’s been really, really, really funny. I had a really fun time.
We’ve seen a lot of you on our screens in recent years. What about your music?
I mean, music is my jam. Music is my number one and always will be. So no matter what I’m doing, music is always happening and it’s always, you know, doing live shows and performing and touring. I’ve spent the whole of last year making an album in the studio every chance I got, so music is the number one for sure. I never imagined or pictured myself doing TV – it kind of just happened … here I am hosting TV shows. Yeah, it’s wild.
Australian Idol aside, have you got anything else exciting in the works?
Yeah, I mean 2023 is going to be a huge year. I’m so excited. Especially after, you know, a couple of years of not really doing much over COVID and just staying at home and kind of recharging. But I’m kind of happy that I had that time because it’s really re-energised me and rejuvenated me, and I’ve been so creative and 2023 is going to be huge. We’ve written an album that I think is my best work to date and I know that that’s something that everyone says, but I’m so proud of it and I cannot wait for people to hear it. I’m also going to tour and we’ll do live shows. It’s going to be so fun. It’s going to be so busy.
(Australian Idol premieres Mon. Jan. 30 on Channel 7 and 7plus)