Dannii Minogue says working on Australia’s Got Talent has helped rescue her from emotional despair, writes Darren Devlyn
DANNII Minogue is renowned for projecting a polite but slightly distant manner in interviews. Her desire to protect her vulnerabilities comes as no surprise, given she feels so many profile pieces on her have worked the same tired turf.
Scroll through years of press clippings on the pop star, actor and talent-show judge and you’ll discover there’s almost always a reference to her apparent struggle to escape the career shadow of sister Kylie. Then there’s the conjecture about what she might or might not have had nipped or tucked, and analysis of her colourful history of romance.
In a dressing room on the Australia’s Got Talent set, Minogue, concerned at how she will be portrayed, weighs her words carefully as if to imagine how they’ll look in print.
But she unexpectedly sheds some of her inhibitions to explain how she’s emerged from a sustained period of heartache.
Minogue, 36, says her recent participation in Olivia Newton-John’s Great Wall of China charity walk has given her a clearer perspective on what she wants from her career and life.
As surprising as the admission initially seems, Minogue says working on Australia’s Got Talent has played a key role in rescuing her from a downward emotional spiral.
‘‘It was the hand that grabbed me to save me,’’ she says.
‘‘I remember when my sister (Kylie) was sick (with breast cancer), we’d sit watching comedies to keep our spirits up. It’s been shown how important laughter is in a situation like that, when someone is having treatment.
‘‘After that, I thought, I may not have an allimportant job in science, but I can do some good by doing something fun and happy — something that offers a moment to escape and have a good time. This show (AGT) is a happy pill.’’
Minogue pauses, thinks for a moment, and adds: ‘‘I came in to do this after two of the darkest years of my life. My sister was ill and my best friend was dying of cancer and I needed this show to get me back on track.’’
Just how emotionally lacerated she was by her friend’s passing was something she contemplated on the China walk, during which a deeply introspective Minogue wrote a diary for the Herald Sun.
‘‘On returning to the hotel I am moved by what I have seen and tears of sorrow stream down my face, for the ones I have lost to cancer,’’ Minogue wrote.
‘‘Three friends — one was my best friend. We were sitting around chatting one day when she noticed she had a pain like a kidney
infection. The following day she was taken to hospital. I sat by her side for three months watching the devastation of cancer take over.
‘‘We went through the horrific diagnosis that she was not going to survive. Thirty-six years old, my friend was never to leave that hospital.
‘‘In the most serene, organised way, she planned her funeral and gave family and friends specific details to take care of.
‘‘All I could do was rub her feet and look into her eyes and try to be brave. Six months after her passing I find myself with all her loved ones on a beach to scatter her ashes into the sea, as requested.
‘‘There is nothing that can take your breath away more than holding the ashes of your dear young lost friend in your hand, and uncurling finger by finger until they float away in the tide. I was numb all over.
‘‘This was just over a year ago — and I am now here, in central China, crying and trying to accept this personal devastation.
‘‘Most of the walkers on this trip have no idea what I had been through, and suspect I am walking since my experience of my sister’s breast cancer. I wish that was the only reason. With one friend surviving leukemia, four surviving cancer, three friends lost to cancer and two currently being treated for cancer, the numbers are staggering.
‘‘Please, please, please help me raise money to find a cure for this illness that is plaguing our lives. I don’t want to live with it and I don’t want to fight it — just find a cure and move forward to a time when it will no longer be a part of our world.’’
Minogue opened her heart to AGT creator Simon Cowell when she was in the UK for her role as a judge on Cowell’s The X Factor.
So enamored with Minogue is Cowell that he’s confident she can crack the US TV market. He ‘‘opened the door’’ to her meeting network executives on a recent trip to Los Angeles.
Minogue accepts she’ll always have her critics, including fellow X Factor judge Sharon Osbourne. Osbourne made endless jokes about Minogue on a UK talk show, even pointing to her ample rump and saying it reminded her of Minogue’s face. Osbourne’s husband, musician Ozzy, was quoted as saying he didn’t know of a Dannii Minogue.
‘‘Never heard of him. Is it Kylie’s dad?’’ an apparently confused Ozzy asked.
Quizzed about an alleged backstage X Factor spat with Sharon Osbourne that ended in tears, Minogue says: ‘‘There were private conversations I’d not make public. A lot of people know how she feels about me.
‘‘There were moments when Sharon said I wasn’t qualified (for the X Factor gig) and said she didn’t like me.
‘‘I don’t know why she’d say that. I just got on with the job. They (critics) do not know my history in Australia, how I started on Young Talent Time all those years ago.’’
Talent spot: Dannii Minogue, with fellow judges Tom Burlinson (far left) and red Symons, says, says Australia’s Got Talent was the show that ‘‘grabbed me to save me’’.