From the age of five, Jackie Gillies began signing friends’ birthday cards, “Love, famous Jackie.” Somehow, says Gillies, she understood even then a life in the spotlight beckoned.
“I always thought I’d be known for something but I didn’t know what it was,” The Real Housewives of Melbourne star tells The New Daily.
“Some people might say, ‘She just wanted to be famous.’ No, it wasn’t that. I wanted to use having some kind of profile to be able to help people on a larger scale.”
Her reality TV show seems to celebrate excess and egos, but Croatian-born Gillies insists she’s passionate about “giving back,” a lesson she learned early from her father, Ivan, who would regularly invite homeless people into their Newcastle home for Sunday dinner.
“My father never, ever liked to see anybody not have food on the table,” says Gillies, an ambassador for the Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation (the beneficiary of her 2018 stint on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!)
In her memoir Shine It Up, (Hachette Australia, $32.99) Gillies, 38, lays open her life, from embracing her “psychic-medium” gifts, her fairytale romance with her husband, Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies, 39, and finding fame on Housewives.
“So many clients say to me, ‘Jackie, please, write a book and explain how you got to where you are,’” says the fast-speaking Gillies, who was in her early 20s when she gave up a career in corporate banking—she’d greet customers with “Shine it up!”—to work as a psychic.
Encouraging others to overcome hurdles and dream big is a major part of her life mission—and the takeaway of her memoir, in which she tells of a “toxic” relationship.
“I lost myself, I lost my self-worth, I lost who I was because I thought that this is what love was,” says Gillies.
“It started off slowly; what to wear, where I could go and where I couldn’t go, being threatened if I went out he’d hit me … isolating me from my friends, that’s how it started, the emotional abuse.”
The relationship crumbled when “my angels began showing me visions of him cheating,” says Gillies, who was a little girl when she began to “see spirits.”
Plunged into depression after the split, Gillies healed through meditation, exercise and family support. She was single for four years before the Silverchair rocker from her hometown strode back into her life (they’d first met as teens at a music industry workshop).
After reconnecting at a party, Gillies says they each dreamed the same dream that night, and from there, things moved fast.
“Ben kissed me for the first time, a day later he proposed and I was married the day before my 30th. We manifested each other!” she says.
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“I don’t remember doing this, but my sister told me I used to put [Silverchair] posters up on my wall and I’d write ‘I love you, I’m going to marry you,’ under his head.”
Gillies says she also “manifested” her reality-TV career via a “vision board” depicting pairs of high heels walking a red carpet. After watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, “I said to my husband, ‘I’m gonna be on a show like this and it’s going to happen in the next few weeks.’
“He laughed. The next day, I received a phone call from a friend who said, ‘I’ve put you up for a new show nobody knows about, it’s called The Real Housewives of Melbourne.’ My husband went, ‘What the f–k?’”
For some of her co-stars, “It’s all about money, money, money” says Gillies. “I’m just a normal chick from Newie, I just happen to be on a television show.
“I want to share my story because, mate, we all go through ups and downs.”