Dannii Minogue is learning to skateboard. It might be hard to imagine the glamorous 47-year-old TV star taking her board down to the local skate park, but she's serious about it.
Dannii is working on her skills alongside Ethan, her nine-year-old son, with footballer-turned-model ex Kris Smith."It's very challenging as an adult," she tells TV WEEK, with a laugh. "Oh my God, you should see me! I just look so embarrassing. But he puts up with me and we're learning together. I've kind of got the basics of it. I just need to practise now."
The truth is, there are two Danniis. There's the singer and actress, known for being a judge and mentor on shows such as The X Factor (UK and Australia) and Australia's Got Talent. There's also the mum, who skateboards and helps Ethan with his homework.
"I love my time being a mum and being with Ethan, and then I get to frock up and put the false eyelashes on and the high heels and enjoy that for what it is, too," Dannii says.
"He thinks it's hilarious when I'm all dressed up. I'm definitely very different when I'm in that mode. I guess I'm way more confident than I am in just a day-to-day thing."
For the past three decades, Dannii has split her time between the UK and Australia, going wherever work takes her. She says she's "open to anything", anywhere. But it has to be worth it if she's going to give up time with Ethan for it.
"It's just got to be a work project that rocks my world," the busy star explains.
Dannii's newest series, The Masked Singer, is one that she absolutely loves. And there's a huge bonus: she didn't have to give up too much time with Ethan to do it.
The mother and son were both fans of the American version of the show, which starred celebs such as Donny Osmond and Tori Spelling, before there was even any talk of a local offering.
"We were screaming out names and yelling at the TV and getting involved," Dannii recalls. "When the reveal happened, what was really strange was that even though he didn't know who the person was, it didn't do anything to stop him enjoying the show."
When Dannii was asked to be part of the guessing panel on The Masked Singer, alongside actress Lindsay Lohan, radio star Jackie O and comedian Dave Hughes, she couldn't wait to tell Ethan.
"You always have the guilts about going away to work," she says. "Sometimes he's like, 'Why have you got to do that?' I was like, 'Guess what Mummy's doing? It's pretty cool.' When I told him [about The Masked Singer], the first thing he said was, 'Can I come and watch?'
"He was spending time with his dad, and I was like, 'Can I steal him away to come and watch a few episodes?'"
Dannii had brought Ethan onto set with her when he was a baby, but this time was different. Not only was it a show he loved, but he had someone close to his age to share the experience with: Jackie's eight-year-old daughter, Kitty.
"He had never met Jackie's daughter and they got to hang out and come backstage and sit in our chairs with us and sit in the audience. The excitement was like Disneyland."
Dannii says she and Jackie are friends from "way back", having worked in radio together. She laughs off rumours that she was having a feud with either Jackie or Lindsay, saying the three women on the guessing panel really bonded.
"Lindsay's a girl's girl. She sent us all flowers the night before it started, like the most beautiful bouquet, and just said, 'I'm really excited about this.' She's so supportive of us."
Dannii was younger than Ethan is now when she began her career in TV. She was seven when she scored her first roles in dramas such as The Sullivans. Three years later, she was a regular performer on Young Talent Time. But Ethan isn't likely to be following in her footsteps.
"As a kid, I would jump up when anyone would give me time and try and perform, but he's not like that," she explains. "There was a notice to join the school choir and he's like, 'No, I don't like singing in front of people.' I don't think that's going to be his calling."
After leaving YTT in her late teens, Dannii did more acting, including the role she's best remembered for: young punk Emma Jackson in Home And Away.
Emma bid a tearful farewell to Alf (Ray Meagher) and Ailsa (Judy Nunn) in 1990, getting on a bus bound for Queensland to become an air hostess. There's long been talk of her returning.
"I've always had a dream to pop back to Summer Bay, but I don't know how they would write that in," Dannii says. "But I think that would be fun to do."
It's clear that Dannii's ready to make her return to acting. But Summer Bay may not be the place she does it. She's been looking at scripts for other TV series, and has her heart set on a role in an upcoming show.
"There's one in particular I really, really, really, really, really, really, really love that's written in Australia," she says.
But she can't give away any hints as "it's all under wraps".
Although she has a long recording career behind her, Dannii would never have agreed to being one of the contestants on The Masked Singer.
Because of a phobia, she wouldn't have been able to perform inside the elaborate costumes.
"I am the most claustrophobic person," she reveals. "I sometimes have panicked while putting on a top or a dress if I feel for one second I'm stuck. I will hyperventilate and feel like I'm going to fall over."
Towards the end of filming, Dannii was invited to try some of the singers' masks.
"The first one I looked at was the unicorn and the mask is so tight," she says. "I just looked inside and I said, 'Nah.' My throat started closing up already. There's no way. I would completely freak out in there."
Although she'd never be a contestant on the show, Dannii says she had "lots of fun" as a panellist. She's hoping it will be a huge success and go for another season – and she's not the only one.
"Ethan wants me to do the show again, too," she says.
If there isn't a second season of The Masked Singer, then it's just a matterof waiting for the next project that rocks her world.
"If it doesn't, then I'm really happy focusing on being a mum," she says.
The Masked Singer airs Monday and Tuesday, 7:30pm, on 10.
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