She’s not supposed to play favourites, but Australian Idol co-host Ricki-Lee Coulter admits to being ecstatic when Kiwi contestant Stan Walker was named the winner of her show’s latest series. “I really admire him and respect the risks he’s taken,” she explains. “He’s come such a long way and he’s got a good head on his shoulders. He deserves it.”
But maybe another reason Ricki-Lee is such a big Stan fan is their shared New Zealand background. The two spent time exploring their Kiwi connections during Idol, with Ricki-Lee discovering it was one of Stan’s uncles who fi rst convinced her to take up singing.
Though her family moved to Australia when she was just three weeks old, Ricki-Lee (24) is proud to have been born in Auckland and still calls herself a Kiwi. When the Weekly greets her with a friendly “kia ora” before our exclusive interview, she can’t hide her delight.
“I have a New Zealand passport,” she says, “and I vouch for the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns too, so I qualify as a Kiwi! It’s a beautiful place and I love going back to see my family. I spend a lot of time just eating feijoas!”
With a high-profile singing career in Australia, Ricki-Lee – who is of Ngai Tahu and Ngapuhi descent – also enjoys going incognito on this side of the Tasman. But that anonymity may be short-lived. As the ambassador for Hold oe Tight shapewear, life-size cardboard cut-outs of the sexy star have been installed in branches of The Warehouse throughout the country.
“It’s really funny,” she giggles. “I have friends and family sending me pictures of themselves standing next to me.” Ricki-Lee’s not embarrassed to be a spokeswoman for a product that gives curvy women a confi dence boost. She explains, “There aren’t a lot of women my size in the industry, so I’m happy to fly that flag. I’m a proud size 14 and this is something I’ve relied on for a long time.
“I come from a Maori background, so the women in my family are sexy and confi dent. I’ve embraced my body, but if there’s something that can make you feel a bit fiercer as you’re strutting down the street, why not?”