Curtain call: Ricki-Lee's big return to TV
AUDITIONING for a talent show can be a trial by fire, but Ricki-Lee Coulter didn't expect to get so close to the flames as the new host of Australia's Got Talent.
The pop singer, who rose to fame at just 18 on the second season of Australian Idol, says she was accidentally set on fire while filming for Seven's reboot of the global reality franchise.
"I had this cute little singed fringe from something that didn't go to plan," she tells The Guide.
"It was a magician and I was having to hold something and all of a sudden this ball of fire came towards my face and the smell of burning hair was just a lot. It happened so quickly, you don't quite know what's going on.
"The show must go on. You get out the back, brush it out and get back out there. As a performer you just have to take things as they come; unexpected stuff happens."
In her first major TV role in a decade, and 15 years since she got her start on Idol, Ricki-Lee sees herself more as a cheerleader and shoulder to cry on than an impartial host.
"I know how they're feeling and the thoughts going through their heads. If they're scared or nervous or worried, then I try to be the calm before the storm," she says.
"Emotions run really high. I'm standing side of stage with people's families. They're watching their son or daughter going through the biggest moment of their lives and they're either crushing it or they're not. There are a lot of tears.
"I honestly didn't expect to get so emotional. Sometimes people walked out and as soon as they opened their mouth I was in tears. Sometimes it was the mum holding me up and not the other way around."
One of the perks of the new AGT is Ricki-Lee has the chance to hit the golden buzzer, which sends a stand-out act straight through to the semi-finals. It's a power she shares with the show's judges Shane Jacobson, Lucy Durack, Nicole Scherzinger and Manu Feildel.
A lot has changed since her Idol says, and Ricki-Lee says with social media and Got Talent's global following there are more pathways than ever for performers to find an audience.
"When I did Idol there wasn't social media, Facebook or Instagram," she says.
"There was no such thing as trending. This was 2004 and it was such a different world. I think there's a lot more going on for everybody now, but it's exciting. When people audition and their performance goes up (online), they can get hundreds of millions of views. I would love to have auditioned in this era because of the opportunity that comes with it. The world is at your feet."
Australia's Got Talent premieres on Sunday at 7pm on Seven.