From Cosima to Nollsy: Where some of the very first Australian Idol contestants are now.

It’s been 19 years since Australian Idol first hit our TV screens, and huge news: the show is finally coming back in 2023.

Channel Seven has announced its casting call for would-be Idols, inviting "hopefuls aged between 15 and 28" to "showcase their talents".

But if you’re anything like us, you still lie awake sometimes at night and think, "I wonder what Cosima De Vito is up to now?"

Well, wonder no more, friends. We’ve dug deep on some of our favourites from the very first season, and this is what we found…


Guy Sebastian

One of the most successful acts from the Australian Idol franchise, Guy, 40, was the show’s very first winner in 2003 and went on to do big things.

Guy is the first Australian male artist to have ever achieved six number one singles and two number one albums in ARIA chart history, receiving more than 30 Platinum singles sales.

Some of the tunes he’s most known for include Battle Scars, Who’s That Girl and Before I Go.

He’s now a dad of two boys with wife Jules, and has sung for several big-name celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, who specifically requested him when she was in Australia.

In 2019, he went back to his roots of reality TV, appearing as a coach on The Voice Australia.

But our personal highlight is when he became the first artist to represent Australia in the Eurovision song contest in 2015.


Cosima De Vito

Cosima, 45, was a favourite to win the first season, making it to the top three. But after being diagnosed with nodules on her vocal cords, she was forced to dramatically bow out of the competition.

The following year though, she released her debut album, Cosima, and created her own record label, CDV Records, prompting many to accuse her of faking her nodules for publicity.

In 2004, she ran into legal issues with her management team, which dragged on for years, but she still continued to perform and put out new music.

Cosima welcomed daughter Amelia with husband Augusto De Romanis in 2018.


Paulini Curuenavuli

Paulini, 39, went on to forge herself a successful career in the music industry.

She came fourth in the competition, released a few albums, recorded a song with Ronan Keating, joined a girl group called Young Divas, and landed the lead role in the Australian theatre production of The Bodyguard.

In 2017, she faced jail time, after bribing a government official to unlawfully obtain a driver’s licence, but she was handed a six-month suspended sentence instead.

In 2019, she appeared on Australia’s first season of The Masked Singer Australia as the Spider.

She touted it as her “comeback to Aussie TV”.


Levi Kereama

Tragically, Levi died in October 2008.

The 23-year-old had just played at Brisbane’s Parklife Festival when police were called to his hotel later that same evening.

An emotional Guy Sebastian performed at his funeral, telling mourners Levi had been his best friend on the show.

Rob Mills

Following Idol, the 40-year-old had a highly publicised fling with Paris Hilton in 2003, and released an album, Up All Night.

Speaking about his personal life in a 2015 interview with another former Idol star, Em Rusciano, Rob – better known as Millsy – admitted to dabbling with cocaine and being “a little bit” gay, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.


He also said he ended things with Paris because “she’s not that interesting”.

Millsy kept up appearances on TV, acting on Neighbours, and appearing on the third season of The Celebrity Apprentice Australia.

More recently though, he’s been focusing on musical theatre, landing starring roles in several Aussie productions.

He’s appeared on stage in Grease, Hair – alongside fellow Idol alumni Cosima De Vito – Wicked, Legally Blonde and Ghost, just to name a few.

Last year, he also appeared on The Masked Singer Australia as Wolf.

Mills is engaged to The Project's Georgie Tunny.


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Happy Valentines Day Lovers. Hope you find someone who pulls this face when you cuddle them. #favourite

A post shared by  Rob ???? Mills (@robmillsymills) on


Cle Wootton

Before she appeared on Idol, Cle, 40, was actually a child star, appearing in the kids series, Ship to Shore.

She continued to act after Idol too, with bit roles on Neighbours and The Sleepover Club.

In 2012, she welcomed a baby with her partner, Nicole Karro.

Kelly Cavuoto

Following her appearance on Idol, Kelly, 41, went on to host Video Hits on Channel 10, alongside fellow Idol star Axle Whitehead.

But she resigned in disgrace in 2004, after getting drunk at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and hurling abuse at Guy Sebastian whenever he appeared on a TV screen.

“She and the network agreed that her behaviour was inappropriate and she regrets her behaviour on that night,” a spokesperson for Channel 10 said at the time, as reported by a Guy Sebastian fan page.

According to the TV network, she resigned because she wanted to “pursue her own musical career”.

Kelly Australian Idol. Image via Channel 10.

Mathew Chadwick

After turning down an offer to join boy band Mercury4, Mathew returned to school and graduated with a Bachelors in Music from the Queensland Conservatorium.

He then went on to perform at Dracula’s Cabaret Restaurant and was the official Ken - one half of Ken and Barbie - for Mattel. (You seriously can't make this up.)

In 2016, he was living in New York City and working as a tour guide for TMZ, as reported by Junkee.

Shannon Noll

Shannon - better known as Nollsy - is one of the more successful stars to come out of Idol.

His first single 'What About Me' went platinum four times, and was the highest-selling single in Australia in 2004.


He released his fifth album, Unbroken, in 2018, and appeared on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! the same year, where he again placed runner up.

But it hasn't all been rosy for Nollsy. He was arrested for drink driving in December 2004, and was again arrested in January 2017 for assaulting a bouncer at an Adelaide strip club. He plead guilty to cocaine possession in 2018 and was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

Nollsy married his wife Rochelle the year after Idol, and they have four children.


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Dressed and ready to go out for some Chinese. Little fella is having an entree before we leave! ????????????

A post shared by  Shannon Noll (@nollsie) on


Axle Whitehead

Although not in the top 12, Axle was a semi-finalist and wildcard on the first season of Australian Idol.

He later went on to host Video Hits alongside fellow contestant Kelly Cavuoto, but was fired after exposing himself onstage at the 2006 ARIA Awards and simulating sex with the trophy he was presenting.

His career recovered, however, and the 41-year-old went on to become quite a successful actor.

Locally, he starred on Home and Away and The Secret Life of Us, before moving to Hollywood and landing recurring roles in Shameless and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

In 2020 he had a recurring role on Neighbours, and in 2021 he appeared on The Masked Singer as Mullet.

He was also awarded Cleo magazine's Bachelor of the Year in 2009.

LISTEN: Guy Sebastian on the guilt of switching off. Post continues below.

Courtney Act

A fellow wildcard contestant, Courtney - also known as Shane Gilberto Jenek - was the first openly gay contestant to appear on a reality talent show.

The 40-year-old has since had a colourful career, placing runner-up in the 2014 season of RuPaul's Drag Race.

She's done ad campaigns for American Apparel, established her own wig company, Wigs By Vanity, and covered the US presidential election as a foreign correspondent for Junkee.


In 2018, Courtney took out the top spot on Celebrity Big Brother, following an appearance on British reality dating show, Single AF.

She had a guest role on Neighbours in 2020 and in 2021 hosted Courtney Act's One Plus One, which was nominated for an AACTA Award. 

This post was originally written in 2018 and has been updated in July 2022.

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