Don Arnold / WireImage / Anna Mendoza, BuzzFeed
IN 2016, Casey Donovan was working as an Uber driver in Sydney.
It had been greater than a decade since she walked into the Australian Idol auditions as a brooding teenager. She left three months later, having captivated the judges and lots of the two million Australians who tuned in every week to observe Donovan and her rivals sing.
The celebrity that follows actuality tv could be short-lived, brutal and damaging. However when producers for the TV present I’m A Celeb… Get Me Out Of Right here! approached Donovan for the 2017 season, the lure of TV (and renewed fame) was too sturdy to withstand.
Uber was not the place she needed to be. Some see actuality reveals as a launch — or re-launch — pad to fame, however Donovan says it had extra to do with staring down her fears: “I used to be at a degree in my life the place I assumed, ‘Shit, do I do that? Do I put myself again on the market? Do I even wish to do this?’.
“I assumed, ‘Fuck it, simply do it, go have some enjoyable’. And what’s the worst that might occur?”
“I had doubts about happening the present. However then I assumed, ‘Fuck it, simply do it, go have some enjoyable’. And what’s the worst that might occur? The present got here into my life on the level I wanted it to.”
For Donovan, this was a one other likelihood to work her manner again on to Australia’s radar as a singer and musician. One which might be taken severely.
CASEY Donovan was 16-years-old in 2004 when she made her TV debut on Australian Idol. Carrying Converses, three-quarter denims, a hoodie and mismatched socks, she was clearly a personality of curiosity.
Then she belted out an a capella rendition of Kasey Chambers’ “A Million Tears”, and it grew to become evident this younger lady from Condell Park in Sydney’s southwest had been blessed with a mighty set of pipes.
Donovan after she was introduced the winner of Australian Idol in 2004.
Dean Lewins / AAPIMAGE
“Are you genuinely pleased?” requested choose Ian “Dicko” Dickson. “Or genuinely sad?”
“I’m normally very hypo,” she answered, to guage Mark Holden’s look of disbelief. What he noticed was a nonchalant younger lady. Nevertheless it was precisely that no-fucks-to-give angle, and her voice, that Australians warmed to.
“I’ve obtained a little bit of a chilly, so…” she added.
She didn’t beg for the judges to let her in. She stood with a impartial expression as they delivered their verdicts (sure/sure/sure), solely breaking into a large smile after she had left the audition room.
“I’ve questioned myself many instances, if I did Australian Idol too younger,” Donovan instructed BuzzFeed. “I nonetheless assume it occurred on the proper time. The whole lot that was thrown my manner, I in some way managed to face it.”
Since defeating Anthony Callea to win Idol in 2004, the highway has been a rocky one for Donovan.
Former Australian Idol alumni Man Sebastian and Shannon Noll had paved the way in which, dominating charts with quite a few singles after the present. Whereas Casey’s first single “Pay attention With Your Coronary heart” debuted at primary, it was shortly knocked off by Callea’s rendition of “The Prayer”.
For anybody who had watched Idol — the place she had carried out left-of-mainstream songs similar to Evanescence’s “Hiya” and George’s “Particular Ones” (the latter judged a “landing” by choose Mark Holden) — the pivot within the studio in direction of shiny, pre-packaged pop songs appeared unconvincing. This was not the Casey Donovan we had watched on TV.
After Australian Idol she was unable to carry out in venues as a result of her age. “I all the time needed to have a guardian or guardian with me always,” she stated. “I didn’t know the right way to articulate what I needed, and the way I needed to do issues.”
Donovan’s debut album For You peaked at quantity two, and the second single “What’s Going On” made it into the highest 20. After which all the things went quiet.
By 2006 she had been dropped by her label Sony BMG. Different Idol contestants had been on the charts, however Donovan’s time appeared to have come and gone. Nonetheless in her teenagers, she was slipping by cracks.
THE peaks and troughs of actuality TV performed their half in the way in which Donovan spent the latter half of her teenage years.
In her 2014 e-book Huge, Stunning & Attractive Donovan admitted to a six-year relationship with a person named “Campbell”, solely to find he by no means really existed. She had by no means met Campbell, solely his good friend “Olga” who, it later transpired, had orchestrated the faux relationship.
There was an outpouring of public sympathy for her, however individuals had been additionally left questioning how this might have occurred. Donovan opened up concerning the expertise this 12 months on I’m A Celeb… Get Me Out Of Right here! citing her lack of relationship expertise, and the lonely lifetime of being within the public eye.
“It began at 16; I had by no means had a boyfriend,” she instructed her forged mates tearily. “No-one was ever curious about me and this man was telling me he beloved me.
“It began at 16; I had by no means had a boyfriend,” she instructed her forged mates tearily. “No-one was ever curious about me and this man was telling
me he beloved me.”
Donovan tells BuzzFeed she opened up on I’m A Celeb… to warn others.
“There was the Catfish present, however after I wrote about it [in my book], it was actually picked up, and I feel it introduced that dialog ahead. It’s much more harmful now with social media. It’s not even simply courting websites anymore, now we’ve obtained Snapchat and Instagram. Children and fogeys each have to be educated as a result of there are SO many freaks on the market.”
After studying her relationship had been an phantasm, Donovan says she “spiralled” and took to hooking up with strangers she had met on-line as a manner of attempting to recover from “Campbell”.
Donovan performing on the Lethal Awards Announcement in 2011. The Lethal Awards recognises the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to society.
Paul Miller / AAPIMAGE
In her memoir she disclosed she was sleeping with a special man each two days. “I needed to cease the vicious cycle of intercourse and one-night stands, however I didn’t know the right way to get out.”
Whereas she is ready to joke about this now, Donovan turns into introspective when detailing her previous coping mechanisms. “I’ve carried out some fairly bloody silly issues,” she stated. “I used to be attempting to get away from that scenario, I used to be simply transferring by issues too quick to recover from that a part of my life.”
Donovan hasn’t heard from her catfish in years. “I by no means actually obtained an apology,” she stated. “Hopefully at some point they’ll really feel a little bit of regret.”
Whereas she’s open about her experiences now, Donovan was reticent when approached by the producers of I’m A Celeb… Get Me Out Of Right here!.
She feared revealing a lot of her private life on one other actuality TV present. Actuality TV, in any case, was the catalyst for Donovan’s highly-publicised household drama.
After profitable Idol in November 2004, her organic father Merv Donovan, who had been absent for many of her adolescent years, made an try to re-enter her life.
In her first press convention after profitable Idol, she needed to face an estranged member of the family turning as much as query her publicly on why she hadn’t invited her organic father to the Opera House for the finale.
After which a 12 months later Donovan took out an AVO towards Merv Donovan after an altercation at one in every of her gigs, the place he allegedly dragged her three metres down a flight of stairs. Merv Donovan has denied the allegations.
“It was heartbreaking,” Donovan stated. “It was tough being so publicly open and going to court docket and having the paps outdoors … it was full-on for a youngster. Generally I don’t understand how I get by issues, possibly I simply put it behind my thoughts and I’ll should take care of it after I’m 80.
“I used to be so cautious [of appearing on another reality TV show]. Particularly in immediately’s world. After I was on Idol social media wasn’t as large as what it’s now. There’s a variety of negativity on the market.”
Donovan on I’m A Celeb… Get Me Out Of Right here! in 2017.
I’m A Celeb audiences warmed to Donovan and championed her, however whereas tv producers had been establishing a false actuality for individuals, actual life outdoors the jungle rolled on.
Donovan grew to become the primary feminine to win the sequence, and followers had been elated. However she exited the jungle 45 days later to heartbreaking information. “I got here again into the world and discovered my step dad had pancreatic most cancers,” she stated. “Then I obtained Fb inboxes from my organic father saying, ‘You’re lifeless to me’, and he was telling me to vary my final identify.
“I used to be similar to, ‘Proper, OK, how do I take care of all of this?!’. You’ve been confined in a jungle with 12 different individuals and that’s all you knew for 45 days. You come again into actuality and all the things is completely different once more. Having all that thrown at me, it was like, ‘Oh shit, right here we go once more, can I simply catch a break?’.”
“You come again into actuality and all the things is completely different once more. Having all that thrown at me, it was like, ‘Oh shit, right here we go once more, can I simply
catch a break?’.”
Donovan refuses to dwell, or play the sufferer. “I’m A Celeb has positively given me the increase up on this planet the place I can launch unique music once more. I had began work on the EP previous to even figuring out concerning the jungle, after which as soon as once more my life obtained fast-tracked.”
Donovan is finished with actuality TV. For now. “I gained’t say no, however for the second it’s nice to be again” she stated. “To me it’s nice that folks obtained to see an perception into the silly, foolish individual I’m.
“I spoke with my associates after I obtained out, and so they stated, ‘We love you, however now everybody really is aware of who you might be!’. I’ve lately turned 29, however I really feel a lot older. I feel all the things that has been thrown my manner has occurred for a motive, and it’s led me to the place I’m immediately, and given me the flexibility to reassess issues and be like, ‘I can do that’.”
The primary single Donovan launched this 12 months, “Lonely” , gave audiences one other glimpse of the pure magic of Donovan’s voice, recalling the Idol days when it was simply her, the stage and a microphone. One factor that has remained with Donovan through the years is the recommendation — “all the time keep true to your self” — from Idol choose Marcia Hines. Lately, that has meant chopping ties with Uber and specializing in music.
“I’m A Celeb has given me that increase up on this planet the place I can launch my unique music with a bit extra of an viewers once more,” she stated.
On “The Villain”, a monitor from the new EP Off The Grid & Someplace In Between, Donovan sings about her wrestle with anxiousness. With its tempo modifications, evocative association and swooping, ethereal vocals, it's vaguely paying homage to the George songs she used to belt out in 2004.
It’s taken 13 years, however Donovan is lastly in command of her profession, and the route of her music. Now all she wants is for the viewers to come back alongside for the journey.