Natalie Bassingthwaighte is known for her music, acting and as a judge on The X Factor Australia. Now the 39-year-old is adding designer to her list with her new line of clothing for kids, Chi Khi. She has also just signed on as the new judge on The X Factor New Zealand to fill the role left by judge Natalia Kills, who was dismissed after a tirade on air. I caught up with Bassingthwaighte to chat about her clothing range, returning to acting and being on a “spiritual journey”.
How did your new role on X Factor NZ come about?
I was asked my interest [last week and] spoke to the producers, then discussed with my husband to see if we could even make it work. Negotiations took place and then … I found out it was happening and [flew straight to New Zealand]! One crazy week. My first live show [was on] Sunday! This week was a crazy one:Neighbours on Monday, meetings for … Chi Khi, kids swimming, gymnastics and music. And to top it off, a film audition on Wednesday. Not quite sure it’s all really sunk in yet but I think that’s how I roll. I have had less than 24 hours to get a vibe for my category but they are so brilliant. I can’t wait!
Did you think X Factor judge Natalia Kills crossed the line with her recent outburst?
I don’t agree with bullying in any way shape or form by anyone. It’s inappropriate, unnecessary and just hurtful.
What else are you up to?
At the moment it’s almost 24 hours’ a day Chi Khi, quite literally. I’ve never done anything like it before. It has been about 18 months from the idea to it actually coming to life. I’ve been doing a few screen tests as well for shows, and back in the classroom for some acting.
What inspired you to start a children’s range?
My husband and I have always had the mindset that it’s good to do things outside of your industry. Especially in the entertainment industry; you never know how long your time is and I just thought it was important to have something that is ours. My kids both have sensitive skin – dry and eczema. So I did a bit of research on that and found that bamboo was really good for kids with sensitive skin and there was nothing that was really cool that was made out of bamboo.
Are you hands-on in the design process?
Yes – I’m not the designer but I’m pretty directional with how I want the whole brand to look. But I still let the people who have the skills do what they do.
You’re a singer, actor, TV personality and have a new kids’ range. Of all your things you do, what’s most important to you?
My kids. My family. I think since having kids my whole world has been shaped by them, but in a good way … I don’t define myself as a singer or any of those things any more. I just feel like a working mum. I like to create, I like to be challenged, I like to be inspired. But I think the one that suits me most is probably just mum.
How do you juggle it all?
Oh my god, it’s difficult. For any working mum I think it’s exactly the same, but my daughter goes to daycare twice a week and we have someone to help us twice a week. My husband and I just juggle. It’s just how we work. We both are in an industry that is flexible. So that’s a good thing about it. But it’s also the hard thing about it because you can’t really stick to, “OK, Monday to Friday I’ll go here and do that”.
Will your kids follow in your footsteps?
My son is pretty obsessed with music. He has definitely got something musical in his body. My daughter is always just putting on a little crazy show. She does funny accents, characters. You name it. So, maybe, it might just happen.
You mentioned that you’re back in the screen room – are you getting back into acting?
Yeah – I don’t know. Last year I’ve been bit more on a spiritual journey. I want to do things that make me smile and make me happy and I felt like, “OK, I’m going to go and do this workshop with this amazing woman who has taught De Niro and Bradley Cooper”. It was a week-long intensive workshop. I’ve been doing a few screen tests since then and dipping my toes back in.
Are you going to get back into singing as well?
No, I’ve kind of stepped back from that a little bit. I was thinking at the beginning of last year that it’s something that I wanted to do and then last year was a bit tough for me. I had a lot of personal things. I just felt that it was all happening and then I just felt I couldn’t do it any more.
What’s your biggest career highlight?
Well, there are so many and they’re all so different, so it’s really hard. We did do No.3 in the UK for [her band] Rogue Traders. That was pretty mind blowing. I have sung the anthem at almost every sporting event in Australia. So being in the big grounds performing in front of 100,000 people, that’s pretty amazing. They are both music things but … such “pinch me” moments.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Hopefully, Chi Khi will have grown. I’ve got big plans for it: Chi Khi Mini, Chi Khi Kids, Chi Khi Skin … Chi Khi lots of things! Enjoying my kids because they’re young. Maybe doing some acting. Having a few holidays. Putting my feet up. I don’t know. Having a good time. Enjoying life.
WE WENT TO Catalina Restaurant, Rose Bay
WE ATE Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters, Sushi & sashimi; salad of organic & baby heirloom tomatoes and fresh burrata; summer vegetable tart with Persian fetta, baba ganoush, salsa verde and dukkah.
WE DRANK Sauvignon Blanc, Pascal Jolivet & Chardonnay, Domaine William Fevre.
photography: Christopher Pearce