If there’s one thing Casey Donovan knows how to do, it’s commanding an audience.
The former Australian Idol winner, 34, was a teenager when she won the singing competition and kickstarted an impressive music career that has stood the test of time.
Now, 18 years on, Donovan is in a very different stage of life. She’s focussing on her health after dropping down to under 100 kilograms for the first time in her life last year and from February will be performing in the new musical & Juliet.
Speaking to 9Honey Celebrity, Donovan says the most crucial improvement has been her mental health.
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“Being healthier comes with a healthier lifestyle and certainly a clearer mind. I’ve focussed a lot on mental health over the years, and it has cleared up a lot of space,” Donovan reveals.
“I’ve been able to identify what my triggers are and how to healthily work around them – and to know that changing your lifestyle and diet is never a death sentence.”
Donovan, who has credited Jenny Craig for helping her become the “best version of myself”, knows it is never just about your size or the number on the scale.
But after losing 15 kilograms in 12 weeks, she says she fits into a size 18 for the first time and has noticed tiny changes in how her clothes feel on her body.
“After forever going through different stages, I can happily say I can healthily fit into a size 18,” she says.
“It’s certainly been a massive thing for me, with changing clothes and body types. My life is very much on the screen and stage, so I am forever wearing costumes.
“And it’s amazing to try on old clothes that used to be tighter on the waist, and now they’re looser than ever. It’s been a massive confidence boost.”
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A renewed sense of confidence is a “godsend” for Donovan, who will soon be performing eight times a week in & Juliet in Melbourne.
Donovan, who was cast in the role of Angélique, is well-aware burnout can be a consequence of such a gruelling schedule.
She says it is important to be gentle with herself if she starts making unhealthy choices.
“Life does get busy and sometimes you do fall off the wagon, but it is about getting up and making better choices and being educated in those choices,” Donovan explains.
“The one thing I love about Jenny Craig is you aren’t made to feel guilty about choices. It’s a lifestyle change and when you’re busy, especially for me when I’m touring and travelling around a lot, there’s this reassurance you are on the right track.”
“After forever going through different stages, I can happily say I can healthily fit into a size 18.”
Donovan’s talent and personality took her from the trenches of reality TV to the bright lights of Australia’s theatre circuit.
Her musical prowess is undeniable – but that doesn’t mean the musician is immune from criticism.
As Donovan explains, she’s built a coat of armour against trolling as the harsh spotlight has been glaring on her since the age of 16.
“It’s all about surrounding yourself with a great network of people,” she says confidently.
“And not reading too much into the things other people say. Everyone has an opinion, and it’s about creating a safe space for not only yourself but your loved ones. And not paying attention to the negativity.”
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& Juliet isn’t Donovan’s first theatrical rodeo. She has also performed in the Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5 and the classic Rent.
When asked if such prolific performing makes it hard to differentiate “stage Casey” to “real-life” Casey, the singer says she feels a sense of relief when she steps back into her own shoes.
“It’s a skill you grow into, knowing that when you are putting on your character, you are building that character from the ground up day after day,” she says.
“But once that face is off, it’s nice to slide back into Casey’s life. I’m forever building up my characters, it’s nice to be able to be different characters but still have Casey in the background.”
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