Casey Donovan’s having a great year.

When we spoke, she’d just returned from a Korean tour of the hit all-Indigenous musical The Sapphires, after a six-month Australian run of the show. Her role as a sassy singer entertaining troops during the Vietnam War has gone a long way to erasing the public image of Donovan as the same sullen teen who was thrust to instant fame — some might say infamy — thanks to her season-winning stint on Australian Idol in 2004.

In fact, reviews have almost unanimously singled out Donovan’s ribald comic turn as the highlight of the show.

“God bless ’em. It’s been my first trial in a theatrical role — hopefully there’ll be more to come,” she told Sydney Star Observer.

For now, though, her focus is on music: Donovan’s new single, Big, Beautiful & Sexy, is a change of pace for a singer most would still associate with that sappy Idol-winner’s ballad Listen With Your Heart.

“It’s a song that I’ve written from personal experience and to come through that, to come out the other side, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s about embracing all body types — even people who struggle to put on weight.”

“Although I can’t say I’ve ever suffered from that problem,” she chuckled.

It’s the sort of empowerment anthem that could strike a chord with gay audiences too.

“Definitely. ‘I am who I am, I do what I do, I’m proud of my life and it’s sad what you do’ — pretty straight to the point, gotta love it!”

She’s still only 22, but Donovan clearly now feels a lot more comfortable in her own skin. How did she get to this point?

“Well, the difference is huge. I’ve gone from having all these issues carried around on my shoulders, feeling like every time I turn my back people were laughing at me, to going, ‘You know what? I don’t care. I know who I am.’

“I think after winning Idol, and everything being so high, to slamming right down to the bottom, taught me a really big lesson. I’ve done a lot of growing from being 16 when I won Idol to now being 22 — I feel like I’m 80. But hey, who’s counting?”

With all this talk of being unapologetically her own woman, we wondered if Donovan would like to use the opportunity of a chat with a gay paper to reveal anything about her own sexuality. The good-natured singer laughed at the suggestion.

“I do like boys. I’m very open about my sexuality — I like guys. Who knows which way the door will swing in the future, but — how do I say this — I’m a big fan of the cock!”

info: Casey Donovan plays Slide on Oxford St on August 20, and Big, Beautiful & Sexy is now available from iTunes. Visit www.caseydonovan.com.au

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