Winners or runners up, for every Guy Sebastian or Jessica Mauboy who translated their moment of fame on the Australian Idol stage into a lasting career, there are others who have struggled.
Casey Donovan, who bested Anthony Callea to win 2004’s second series, revealed this week to the Daily Telegraph she now drives for Uber part-time in between acting and singing gigs like her recent starring role in Queen musical We Will Rock You.
“I write music about my own experience and other people’s, so being on the road meeting all these people is really inspiring,” she said.
Donovan’s 2014 memoir Big, Beautiful & Sexy, revealed her sex addiction and a bizarre ‘Catfish’ relationship with a woman who posed as an online boyfriend for six years.
In 2015, series three victor Kate DeAraugo was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, issuing a heartfelt apology on her Facebook page: “I have let all of you down and I’m just so very sorry.”
Series five champ Natalie Gauci has also had her own struggles with drug addiction, but was full of hope for the future when she spoke to The New Daily about life after Australian Idol.
“I was going through a rebellious phase of my life, searching for happiness,” Gauci revealed.
“When it’s in media coverage, that becomes what people see of me, but it was just a part of what was me at the time. I do meditation now, I’m super happy with my lifestyle and I haven’t been down that road for five or six years now.”
Convinced by her family to audition for Australian Idol as a means to move on from her career in a cover band, Gauci said her time on the show proved a double-edge sword.
“I gave it my all and it was one of the best experiences of my life, up there with getting married, but it really does change your life forever. I had the choice to take it as a positive or a negative, but by the end I was too tired to understand what actually happened.
“I didn’t believe what was going on because it was so fast, so intense and I didn’t really see the fans who voted for me. They were there, but they were so far away. It felt like it wasn’t real. I was totally detached from myself, from my feelings, from my family, from my success.”
Ironically, Gauci’s debut album The Winner’s Journey, with former record label Sony BMG Studios, was a studio-recorded cover album of the tracks she performed on the show.
“There’s one support system and that’s it,” she says of the Australian Idol experience.
“In every industry there’s a machine and you have to go with the flow. If you resist it, then you’re going to get spat out the other end. I did resist, because I wanted my own music my way.”
In the almost ten years since Gauci has found the confidence to reveal her own style and is preparing to release her crowd-funded album of original material, Pictures of Mars, at the end of March.
“The music I write is from my soul,” Gauci says. “It comes from deep, deep inside of me and I protected it like it’s my own baby because I loved it so much and it meant so much to me. I was gonna take however long it took to get me to that point and it’s been nearly 10 years but that’s ok.”
Her advice for fellow ex-Idols?
“If you’ve got music inside, of you, you’re born with it and it’s our purpose in life and our duty to share it with the world. I know that it’s tough and it’s a struggle when you come from a big, big platform like Australian Idol, but never give up. Just keep going. I think it’s best to be yourself, authentic to who you really are.”