Judg­ing Dan­nii

Dan­nii Minogue says work­ing on Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent has helped res­cue her from emo­tional de­spair, writes Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

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’’.

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