Q&A with Ricki-Lee Coulter

Remember that iconic opening scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral when flatmates Charles and Scarlett wake up late for a wedding and drop the f-bomb like it’s hot?

That was me this morning.

Despite my best intentions (setting my alarm), I woke up an hour later than planned—it turns out I hit PM not AM—and almost missed the opportunity to interview Aria-nominated singer, songwriter and Australia’s Got Talent presenter, Ricki-Lee.

I would have kicked myself but I was too busy trying to make it look like I hadn’t just rolled out of bed.

Thankfully, I made it up the gangplank in time for the announcement that Ricki-Lee and P&O Cruises have remastered the song ‘Love You Queensland‘ to mark one year until the P&O’s flagship, Pacific Explorer, makes her home port in Brisbane—which included a three-song performance from the Logie nominee.

It’s been 15 years since you were on Australia Idol, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt in that time?

“To trust myself more; I think when I was younger, and earlier on in my career, I didn’t trust my own instincts, that inner voice. And sometimes it was screaming at me, ‘Don’t do that’ or ‘Don’t let them do that’.

“When I didn’t listen to myself, I think I was, at times, steered in the wrong direction; to places I didn’t necessarily want to go or wasn’t necessarily comfortable being in.

What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced since you became a household name?

“I started in the industry (and media spotlight) when I was 18 so I was really young. You don’t know yourself at that age, you’re still figuring it all out, so the biggest challenge has probably been growing up front of Australia and learning to deal with people’s opinions and criticisms and judgments about every single thing you do.

“I have been in relationships and out of relationships; I gained weight and I lost weight; and there’s lots of things people have watched me do and they have an opinion on it all. As an 18-year-old I couldn’t understand why people cared what was happening in my life.

“But in saying that, it makes you a resilient person and I’m lucky because when I first started, we didn’t have social media so I didn’t have people attacking me 24/7 about every outfit, hairdo, and makeup.

How do you deal with those negative comments?

“The good thing is now I don’t care (about the comments). Had it been back when I was 18, I may have been affected by it, but now I don’t care.

“The people whose opinions I value, and the people who know me and love me. If they have something to say, like if my husband said maybe don’t wear that dress. It’s not just some nasty person’s opinion who is doing it for the sake of being nasty. It’s a very different world now. 

What are some of the weirdest or most frustrating things you’ve ready about yourself? 

“I find the obsessions with my weight thing really odd; I had a breakup, I gained a bit of a weight and I ate heaps of food and I lost it. Ten years later, people are still talking about it and I find that really odd.”

Despite the media’s running commentary on your weight, you’ve become a body confident role model to women of all ages. How does that feel?

“From when I was 18 years old to now, I’ve always been about empowering women and encouraging women, and young women and girls, to be themselves and embrace who they are and what they look like.

“It’s hard and sometimes it’s confronting, and sometimes it’s exposing, but I think I got that (positivity) because I grew up in an family full of very confident, sassy women who just love themselves and I think that’s amazing.

“And I love being able to celebrate that and encourage other young women to feel that way too because I understand it can be hard.” 

What are your three travel essentials?

“I don’t go anywhere without my pillow. People are like ‘Why have you got such a huge suitcase for one night?’ and it’s always because my pillow takes up half of it. And I’m a moisturiser girl; I need to have all of my lotions and potions and moisturisers.

“And a lot of different options for clothes because we’ve got to snap them for the Gram. Even if it’s a short two-day trip, we can do three costume changes a day and push that out on Instagram for weeks.” 

What’s your favourite travel destination?

“Well I love home; I live in the northern beaches in Sydney and I travel so much that I get excited going home, and it’s the same coming back to the Gold Coast. I’m always hanging out the window, well, not out the window because we’re flying but I’m at the window filming the skyline.

“I love New York so much and the south of France a lot and right now I’m trying to bully my husband into taking me to the Maldives as soon as possible.”

What did you think of life onboard with P&O?

“This was the first time I’d been on a cruise and I had no idea what to expect. In my mind, I didn’t think it would be this big or that there would be this many areas. There’s even a nightclub at the top of the ship.

“I ate in all of the restaurants and the food is amazing; Salt Grill is fantastic and Skull and Bones was awesome. We even had our little lobster bibs on and I think I think I almost drank the ship dry of champagne.

“Plus there’s so much to do. We were filming and each time we walked past there would be people playing trivia, or taking origami lessons or doing karaoke. Old men were getting up and singing Elvis.”

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