Bonnie Anderson reveals the stories behind some of her favourites
Bonnie Anderson has come a long way from the shy 12-year-old who was reduced to tears on the first season of TV talent show Australia’s Got Talent by tough judge Red Symons.
Fans will recall Anderson went on to win the show, in 2007, but turned down the recording contract she was subsequently offered in favour of working on her song writing and performing.
“I wasn’t ready to put out songs. I’ve always wanted to be a singer but felt I needed a bit of time to earn my stripes,” she said.
So, she started touring. “I’d go into venues everywhere and ask if I could play. And people started to believe in me. Looking back now, it was the best thing for me because I also got to be a kid still.”
The 24-year-old has since released music — her 2014 top 20 hit Blackout eventually went platinum — and has toured internationally. And along the way, she’s met what she calls some pretty inspirational people, such as Jimmy Barnes, Kate Ceberano and even Madonna, who she met when she was out to dinner in Los Angeles with record producer Chris Lord-Alge.
“Chris had worked with her a bunch of times so we went over and chatted with her and it was incredible, one of the coolest moments of my life. She was having dinner and it was very low key but I remember she still had these epic gloves with spikes on. I was like, ‘Man, you really are Madonna’.”
Last year, Anderson added actor to her resume, joining Neighbours as the feisty Bea Nillson, a role that was written especially for her.
“I’m so excited to be part of the show. (Neighbours actor) Jackie (Woodburne) has been my biggest mentor. I watch her and try to sponge as much of her experience and knowledge as I can,” she said.
But Anderson, who has 72,000-plus followers on Instagram, hasn’t abandoned her music entirely, with her new single, Sorry, neatly worked into the show (which airs on 10 Peach, 6.30pm, weeknights; catch up on 10 Play).
“Neighbours have been the absolute best. I played them the song and it actually worked very well with Bea’s storyline. So, it’s come together beautifully,” she said.
Typical Saturday morning
Saturdays are fun because it’s a day off, unless I’m doing a gig that night. I never have a sleep-in because I’m so used to getting up early during the week for Neighbours. So after coffee, I try to make the most of the day and spend as much time as I can with my dog, Delilah. We might go for a beach walk or a big hike or go and spend time with my family.
I’m an absolute chocolate fiend so I always have some dark chocolate on me, which is a little bit healthier (than milk chocolate). My absolute downfall is Tim Tams. I can eat a whole packet in one go.
I’m very lucky because I’ve got to enjoy my mum’s cooking my entire life. But since moving out of home a year ago, I’ve also been cooking a few of my own dishes. My secret is to keep it simple. You can’t go wrong with some pan-fried salmon with asparagus, broccolini and zucchini.
On my bedside table
There’s a photo of me and Delilah and also a photo of my dad and I. There’s also my favourite jewellery, special pieces that have been given to me over the years. And a copy of The Dictionary of Dreams (by Gustavus Hindman Miller and Linda Shields). If I have a crazy dream, I can immediately look up what it means. My friends text me to look up their dreams, as well.
Fantasy place to live
Somewhere up in the Dandenong Ranges. I love the freshness, the breeze and the beautiful views. I’m a country girl — I grew up in Yarra Glen — and I definitely prefer the hills to beaches.
I love The Eagles. They are a family favourite and whenever I hear them, I feel relaxed and peaceful. I also love Sam Cooke. Soul music is my absolute favourite.
Happiness at home
When I have all my family over. I have two sisters and a brother who have five boys between them. I’ve been an aunty since I was 12, and my nephews are my absolute pride and joy. I adore them. I turn into a big kid around them.
Secret domestic skill
It’s a bit weird but I love cleaning, especially the toilet.
My favourite things
Delilah is my two-year-old dogue de bordeaux, or french mastiff, who’s the most beautiful creature in my world. Some good friends of mine are breeders and I actually helped at her birth, which was amazing. I really wanted a girl but there were about 13 boys born before three females so I was starting to get worried that there weren’t going to be any girls. But then Delilah came out. We’re kind of inseparable. She’s such a goofball and, although it sounds like a weird thing to say, a dog really can be your best friend. Delilah has come on to the Neighbours set with me a number of times and she loves it. She thinks she owns the place.
This photo is very precious to me because the boy (pictured on the far right) with the dog is my godfather, (the late Australian boxer) Lionel Rose. He was my dad’s best mate and was the most special human to me. He was my biggest supporter, someone who always had my back and who believed in me. I just adored him. What he achieved was amazing. He was only 19 when he became the first Aboriginal boxer to become a world champion (in 1968). He always used to say, “You’ve just got to keep fighting, keep punching and keep going”. And my dad says something similar, so I believe you’ve got to keep fighting for what you love. I keep this photo up in my home and every time I pass it, it’s as if Lionel is saying, “Hey”. We all miss him so much but he’s there in spirit.
This is my first guitar, so it’s very special. It’s called a Mini Maton, and Maton actually put my name inside the guitar, so it’s something I’ll never, ever give away. I’d seen (Australian singer/songwriter) Diesel playing a Mini Maton and he always made it sound so incredible so I really wanted one myself. My parents bought it for me the year I won Australia’s Got Talent. I remember finding it under the Christmas tree and then I don’t think I put it down for a good six months. My song writing really started after I was given the guitar. I only knew about three chords at the beginning but I managed to write about 20 songs on those three chords.
I was given this gold disc by my record company to mark (35,000) sales of my single Blackout, which I released when I was 19. It was a very proud moment. This song came out of a trip I’d done to Los Angeles where I was writing with a lot of people, which was a lot of fun. It was like releasing my baby. Writing a song is something that comes from within you, so to have people embrace it in the way they did was very special. The song was a bit of a departure for me because up until then I’d mostly done soul music and this was a real pop song. I didn’t really expect it to do so well because it was so different from what I’d been doing before. Hearing it on the radio all the time was just surreal.
My vegie garden is my pride and joy. When I was younger, I’d watch my mum and dad in their garden and didn’t quite understand why they loved it so much. But since I’ve been an adult and spent time in the garden myself, I finally understand their love of gardening. I love watching these little fellas grow, and then getting to eat them is incredible. I’ve been growing some herbs, vegies and even some fruit and I find it really relaxing. (My Neighbours co-star) Colette Mann said it was important for the plants to be facing north, so I’ve followed her advice and it seems to be working. I also sing to them. I’m sure my neighbours think I’m a complete weirdo.
This is signed by Jimmy Barnes and his band, who I first toured with when I was 13. After I won Australia’s Got Talent, I went to watch (his daughter) Mahalia Barnes perform and she asked me to sing a song with her. I think it was Proud Mary, from memory. Mahalia told Jimmy about my voice and then he asked if I wanted to go on tour with him. I ended up touring with them for three years. It was so much fun. I felt like part of the family. I got my first passport and went overseas to New Zealand. I learnt so much from Jimmy and his band. He’s very inspiring. He’s been through so many big things in his life but he’s a fighter and an incredible person. He’s also a big family man. I loved being part of their world. They are great people.