Jack Vidgen has revealed why he fled Australia after he won Australia’s Got Talent. Picture: Christian Gilles
Jack Vidgen has revealed why he fled Australia after he won Australia’s Got Talent. Picture: Christian Gilles

Fame, fortune, fillers: The untold story of Jack Vidgen

When Jack Vidgen sang the Whitney Houston power ballad, I Have Nothing, on Australia's Got Talent in 2011, it really was Australia's Susan Boyle moment.

Judges Dannii Minogue, Kyle Sandilands and Brian McFadden couldn't believe the poise and the vocal maturity of the then 14-year-old from the Sydney suburb of Manly - and the nation responded.

As of this week, Vidgen's Australia's Got Talent (AGT) performance has attracted nearly 66 million views on YouTube, one of the most viewed Australian reality TV moments in history.

But then what happened to the quietly spoken Vidgen?

Two years after the whirlwind of AGT, a record deal with Sony Music that included a No. 3 album with Yes I Am, Vidgen fled the country for Los Angeles.

Now 22, he is now back for another crack at reality TV as one of the star attractions of this year's The Voice Australia.

He admits he has come along way since he was 16 when he moved to the other side of the world and rejected everyone in his life.

"I went over to Los Angeles and I went by myself," he told news.com.au.

"I was 16, I left everyone behind me and I isolated myself in a way, I kind of cut people out of my life. I blocked out my family, I blocked out my friends.

"I was in this little bubble in LA and I think it was the only thing I really felt control over at that point.

"Everything blew up so much I was just like, 'I need to get out of here, I'm going to LA', and that was that."

The fame and recognition, the pressure he put on himself, the scrutiny from industry critics who initially wanted him to succeed then wanted to tear him down, became too much.

He even said goodbye to his mother Rachel, determined to make life work on his own at the precious young age of 16.

Jack Vidgen at the Justin Cassin Fashion Show held at Luna Park in Milsons Point last month. Picture: Christian Gilles
Jack Vidgen at the Justin Cassin Fashion Show held at Luna Park in Milsons Point last month. Picture: Christian Gilles

However after trying for a year in Los Angeles, he fell out of love with the thing that got him there - his music.

"Over the course of the year different things happened and I guess you get exposed to different things in the industry, and just being 16 that can be pretty heavy," he says.

"It just got pretty heavy and it got to the point where I fell out of love with music. I wasn't enjoying it anymore.

"The thing I loved about music, my favourite memory is just going on road trips with my mum and screaming at the top of my lungs with the windows down, singing, I missed those moments.

"I missed that joy that music's meant to bring you, I just wasn't enjoying it anymore."

After it didn't work out in Los Angeles Vidgen returned to Australia and after a topsy-turvy few years, he just wanted to go back to being a normal teenager, finding out who he was out of the spotlight.

Ever since when he was 13 when he made his first public performance singing Hallelujah in front of his school assembly, Vidgen had so much attention on him because of his voice.

Then AGT hit and it was far from a normal teenage life.

"I needed to come home and just do things like hug my mum and see my friends and family," he said.

"I missed so much. I wanted to get a normal job, just live a normal life. I hadn't lived a normal teenage life yet and I was just craving it.

"As amazing as everything was and I never want to sound like I'm complaining because it was incredible, but I just needed things to calm down.

"I needed to discover myself and discover who I am and find my identity."

Vidgen has now been back in Australia nearly five years and he says it was the best thing he ever did living a normal life and getting things back on track.

"I studied, I worked in reception, after school care, aged care, worked in a deli, all sorts of things. I just needed something to humble me because I think I got maybe a little too confident.

"The past five years, being back in Australia, it's been a huge growing time for me."

Last month he came out as a gay man, although on his Instagram he hasn't hid who is for a long time, attending this year's Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Much of the recent talk has been the speculation about his appearance, but for Vidgen he brushes that aside as he is comfortable with who he is.

"People are going to say what they are going to say and that is fine," he says.

"I've grown a thick skin over the years and I've learnt to deal with it. I've got my family, I've got my friends.

"I know that every morning when I wake up, I know the thing I choose most is kindness and that's what I want to be - kind. I know that about myself.

"I'm confident in myself and I love myself and I think when you're able to do that, the other stuff just fades away."

He admits like many of his generation, he has had cosmetic procedures.

"Some of these articles are so funny to me," he says.

"Obviously I've had my lips done, but to me, I can't believe that is what people are talking about. I mean it's obvious. Then there are these articles saying I'm denying it, I'm like, I'm not denying it. I couldn't care less.

"I think whatever makes you happy and whatever makes you most comfortable in your skin, then I think that's what you've got to do."

Vidgen in January.
Vidgen in January.

His mother Rachel, who was famously by his side at the Australia's Got Talent audition, has his full support as he heads into The Voice Australia - and with whatever he does.

"She just wants me to do whatever I love and whatever makes me happy," he says.

"I'm so fortunate to have that kind of mum. She's supported me throughout the beginning of my singing career, she's supported me with working in aged care, she's supported me working in retail. She's always there for me."

Jack Vidgen at The Dolphin’s first birthday party in Surry Hills, Sydney.
Jack Vidgen at The Dolphin’s first birthday party in Surry Hills, Sydney.

Looking back and remembering what his time was like on Australia's Got Talent, despite the fact immediate fame made him grow up quickly and in the relentless national spotlight, Vidgen only has fond memories of the audition and winning the show.

"It was insane," he remembers.

"I think for any 14-year-old it would have been pretty crazy. My dreams were coming true by the day.

"It was one of the most amazing things I've ever done and it opened up so many doors for me. It changed my life forever,

"I did music full time for two years, I released albums and I moved to the United States when I was 16 and tried to hustle and make it happen."

At the time Vidgen went on AGT with no expectations at all as he was so young.

"I was kind of in my own little bubble," he says.

"I didn't have an agenda going on the show. I was just a little 14-year-old kid that loved to sing and I showed up to audition and gave it a crack and got a crazy outcome.

"I just wanted to sing."

Jack Viden in 2016, pictured as an 18-year-old. Picture: Richard Dobson
Jack Viden in 2016, pictured as an 18-year-old. Picture: Richard Dobson

All the judges including Dannii Minogue could not get enough of his audition.

"It was mind blowing," Minogue said at the time.

"You make all of Australia proud."

Speaking to Vidgen now he is mature in his outlook with a wise head on his shoulders when it comes to the cut throat nature of the entertainment business and what it means to appear on a reality show.

He, more than anyone, is ready for what The Voice Australia may bring.

If either Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, Kelly Rowland or Boy George turn around, he has the experience to deal with it and go far.

It's how The Voice Australia tells the story of the singers that go on the show that made him want to step back into the spotlight.

"I honestly think with The Voice, they portray people in such a real way, in such a raw way," he told news.com.au.

"The show is always done so beautifully and I think that's what I wanted to do, show my story in a beautiful way.

"I just really want to share with people what has happened over the past eight years and have fun."

The younger years: Jack Vidgen at the Australian premiere of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, George Street, Sydney, tonight.
The younger years: Jack Vidgen at the Australian premiere of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, George Street, Sydney, tonight.

Jack Vidgen will audition on Sunday night on The Voice Australia, 7pm Channel 9.

Luke Dennehy is a freelance entertainment journalist. Follow him @LukeDennehy

Jack Vidgen appeared at the Confidential Christmas Party in January.
Jack Vidgen appeared at the Confidential Christmas Party in January.

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