TV

"I feel physically and mentally lighter:" Casey Donovan on how the jungle changed her forever

May we all bow down to our Queen of the jungle, Casey Donovan.

By Chloe Lal
Casey Donovan

Khaleesi, Guinevere and of course Elizabeth II... Now Casey joins the ranks of legendary Queens.

If you asked her 46 days ago whether she was ready to rule a jungle kingdom, we're guessing the singer would have laughed in your face.

But now the 28-year-old sits upon her throne, reigning over all.

We chatted to TV's royalty about her life-changing experience.

Casey, you’re a woman of firsts! You were the very first girl to win Australian Idol and now you’re the very first queen of the jungle… How are you feeling?
I am over the moon. It has been such an amazing experience. It's all is a bit surreal right now. Give me a couple of days and maybe it will sink in!

Are you surprised at the result?
I was COMPLETELY blindsided by what happened. I didn’t expect to get that far. I am so thankful to the Australian public for believing in me once again… And giving me a magnificent crown that I probably won’t be able to bring through customs!

The country fell in love with you because you were so raw, kind and funny. And as someone who watched you throughout the show, you were completely yourself and always so honest. You actually lived it all – what was that like?
Look for me, there’s no other way to be than yourself.

I found it really easy because if you’re not trying to hide anything you’ve got nothing to worry about… Unless you’re Lisa Curry bringing contraband.

It was such a fun experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was really nice to be me.

Casey with her mum after her sweet victory.
Casey with her mum after her sweet victory.

Had you watched the show before, were you prepared for the jungle?
I had seen bits and bobs. I’d seen Anthony [Callea] on the show.

I’m not going to lie… Anthony and I did have a tiny chat prior to me entering the jungle.

Look, I didn’t want to get too wrapped up with what happened before. I just wanted to have all the experiences and I wanted them to be fresh, new and really give myself those challenges.

You look amazing. When you went in, you wanted to change your lifestyle around but you did that in so many different ways. I think they said last night you’ve lost close to 20kgs but you also seem to be in a really good headspace. Are you feeling better both physically and mentally?
Definitely 100% I feel happy, I feel healthy and I feel like this is my second chance.

I think I need a few days to myself just to decompress. And then I’ll fly home and get right into my music.

Will we see you training with Kris Smith and Lisa Curry?
Kris Smith did offer to go on a few walks and I’m sure Lisa Curry would be ever so proud to take me for some punches.

It was so much more than losing 20kg, Casey turned her life around.
It was so much more than losing 20kg, Casey turned her life around.
Kris has vowed to help Casey with her health overhaul.
Kris has vowed to help Casey with her health overhaul.

On social media, so many people connected with you sharing your personal and health battle with especially when you spoke about your anxiety issues. What was that like, sharing something so personal not just to your campmates but with the country?
It is very confronting when you struggle with something like anxiety or depression. I think it helped spark that conversation, and we need more of that.

I feel like we are such a proud nation and we don’t want things to get us down but more often than not we are putting on that good old Aussie charm and smile but behind closed doors we’re barely keeping it together.

If I can be open, honest, true to myself and not beat around the bush then I think a lot more people can get out there and say, “Yeah! I’ve struggled with that and this is how I’ve overcome it!”

I feel like people who suffer from anxiety, reading about others is such a great way for them to not feel alone.

My sharing was a case of extremes.

I had snakes thrown at me and reverse bunging and eating impala eyes and God knows what else!

It definitely sparks that conversation and I feel physically and mentally lighter.

We met Casey 13 years ago when she was just 16. The then-teen took out the second season of *Australian Idol*
We met Casey 13 years ago when she was just 16. The then-teen took out the second season of Australian Idol
The singer candidly spoke about the battles she has faced.
The singer candidly spoke about the battles she has faced.

Out of every star on the show, you gave back as much as you received. You were the person that everyone could genuinely sit down and talk to about a problem, you reminded us of the camp owl – constantly looking out for everyone. Was that the role you wanted to play or did it just happen?
It all happened organically. I love listening to people’s stories and I get so engaged with what people have to say.

I think I’m an empathetic by nature, when people offload their emotions I feel like I need to carry them away for them and take away their emotional stress.

I loved every minute of it, even the hardest parts.

It’s safe to say that everyone in Australia wants you to soar professionally and personally. With so many huge changes in your life right now, is finding love a priority?
Love will always come around, eventually.

For now I want to focus on my music and give myself the chance to experience things. If love is one of them, then hell! That would be amazing.

But for now it’s all about the music.

Dane and Nat couldn't be prouder of their girl
Dane and Nat couldn't be prouder of their girl
Keeping it real!
Keeping it real!

You’ve been denied creature comforts, your loved ones and your bed for six weeks. What are you dying to do now that you’re free?
I can’t wait to be in my own bed with my own pillow and my own doona and not needing to zip up a sleeping bag and spray bug spray every night. It will be nice to jump into bed and have Netflix and chill with my cat.

As much as I think we’d all love you to be our Uber driver, after this experience will you put that on hold? In saying that I’d be so keen for a Carpool Karaoke session!
[Laughs]

I think I might shut the door on the Uber experience for the moment and just focus on bringing my new music out. It was crowd-funded and I started making the album before I came into the jungle.

I got to hear two tracks yesterday and they’re ready for mastering.

To be in the jungle and to not know what my producers are doing and hoping they knew where my heart was with my music… And then I heard the songs and shed a bit of a quiet tear.

It solidified everything and the whole experience. It was really magical and I’m not going to lie, I have listened to them about 30 times.

I just can’t wait to share it with everyone!

Soaring to new heights.
Soaring to new heights.
What a worthy queen!
What a worthy queen!

Is there someone from the show you can’t wait to see?
I think I bonded with everyone!

Definitely love Natty and Ash – they’re both special girls. It will be great to see everyone, and to have a laugh! We all know how much I love to laugh, Before we let you go… What’s next for Casey Donovan? It seems like music is your main focus but will you fit in reunion with your jungle fam?
I just want to have fun, Music is definitely my first and foremost priority.

I can’t wait to catch up with everyone away from the lights and cameras. It will be great to have some down to earth chats and to just catch up.

A queen in every right!
A queen in every right!