celebrity

When Guy Sebastian auditioned for Australian Idol, he was told that his look was "crap".

Close your eyes and picture Guy Sebastian.

If you’ve got 2021 suave short-haired Guy Sebastian in your head, shave off two decades.

We’re talking the 21-year-old Adelaidean with a great big mop of hair – or fro as you might remember it being called.

It was a chilly morning in 2003 when a young Guy Sebastian found himself in a line of 2,000 people at 7am, nervously preparing to audition for season one of Australian Idol.

You watch a snippet from Guy Sebastian's Australian Idol audition below. Post continues after video.


Video by Channel Ten.

Wearing a sheepskin jacket and flared jeans, he walked onto the little makeshift stage in front of Marcia Hines, Mark Holden and Ian 'Dicko' Dickson and belted out a Stevie Wonder classic.

"What a beautiful gift you have... thank you," Hines said after the performance.

Dicko, on other hand, was a little more critical in his assessment of Guy's performance.

"It's the best voice we've heard today," he said. "However you look crap, so we're going to have to work on that."

Reflecting on the moment on Anh's Brush With Fame, Guy recalled how the comment affected his self-confidence.

"I thought, 'Maybe I do look like crap, I’m not cut out for this,'" he shared.

"I thought, 'As if I’m going to win a TV show, let alone get a record deal.' I’m going to go on TV with all these beautiful pop star-looking people? I’ll never win."

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Speaking to host Anh Do, Guy shared that prior to Australian Idol, he didn't think he had a chance in the music industry.

"I wasn’t sure music was an option for me," he said, reflecting on his early meetings with music industry figures, who often told him that they didn't love his look.

"I was a weird-looking chubby, half-Asian kid who didn’t have the pop star look. I got on the train with all these rejection letters, tail between my legs and thought, I can’t change how I look, but I can still be a musician," he added.

"I’ll just write songs for other beautiful-looking people; that was my mindset."

Despite his initial doubts, Guy's Australian Idol audition was a day that changed everything for him. 

Guy Sebastian was named winner of the entire show on November 19, 2003, and walked away with a BMG recording contract.

His winning single, 'Angels Brought Me Here', quickly reached number one on the charts. If you're struggling to remember that song you'll remember the first line: "It's been a long and winding journey, but I'm finally here tonight. Picking up the pieces walking back into the light."

Shannon Noll was the runner-up, who soon after released 'What About Me'.

Guy Sebastian and Shannon Noll in 2004. Image: Getty.

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Following his Idol win, Guy went on to record his debut album Just As I Am in six days because of time restrictions, before hopping on a plane to the UK to compete in World Idol.

He finished seventh in the one-off international version of the TV show, but that didn't stop his upwards trajectory back home. His second album, Beautiful Life, went double platinum in Australia.

Closer To The Sun, his third album released in 2006, came off the back of a staggering half a million record sales.

"I had six or seven singles tank."

Guy Sebastian is the only Australian male artist to get six number one singles and two number one albums in Australian chart history.

But his career wasn't always smooth sailing. 

"I had six or seven singles just tank," the now 39-year-old told the Herald Sun in 2019

"Literally no (radio programmers) added one song that I thought would be a smash. When that happens, you start to believe you're a failure," he added.

"But the resilience comes when you remember the reason you do this is not for the charts, it's for the things I believe in, and wanting people to be affected by my art."

Listen to Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast, The Spill, below. Post continues after podcast.

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Behind the scenes, Guy also experienced bullying after winning Idol. 

"I was not in a good place," he told Stellar Magazine last year.

"I thought everyone was out to get me. I had people say derogatory gay slurs to me, I had people flick cigarettes into my afro. I couldn’t believe the ugliness. I wish I’d had the tools to deal with it back then."

Guy Sebastian, the judge and mentor. 

After touring Australia and the US, Guy became a judge on Channel Seven's hit television show The X Factor (while also pocketing a casual six ARIA nominations in the same year).

It was also the year he released 'Who's That Girl', which reached platinum in four weeks.

For the next two years, Guy continued to mentor on The X Factor with his contestants Reece Mastin and Samantha Jade winning in 2011 and 2012, respectively. 

He is now a judge on The Voice, after first taking on the role in 2019.

"I went back I guess to Jules because I knew she loved me for who I was."

Guy went on to marry that young Jules Egan, who we saw in Guy's very first Australian Idol audition clip. In fact, Jules, who also sings, auditioned on that same day but didn't make it through.

The couple married in 2008 and live in Sydney with their two sons, Hudson and Archer.

But their relationship wasn't without its hiccups.

Guy and Jules Sebastian in 2007. Image: Getty.

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Jules and Guy met long before Idol, when they were just 12 years old and attending the same church. 

Not long after Guy's Idol win, they briefly broke up, and Guy dated a few other people, including Delta Goodrem who had been his "hall pass" while with Jules.

"I went back to Jules because I knew she loved me for who I was," Guy told 60 Minutes.

"And so I flew to Adelaide, and I said to her, 'I'm famous now. I could be with supermodels and that, but do you want to get back with me?' And she said, 'Yes, of course'."

"I mean, what an offer," Jules laughed in response. 

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Guy has previously told Mamamia the secret to their relationship success is their friendship.

"I'd love to put [our 17-year relationship] down to myself, but I'm lucky with Jules. She's very easygoing and supportive, we just hang out, we're really good friends above anything else," he said.

"I think it's the key... you can get through a lot of other things if you're good mates."

Jules is a stylist, writer and presenter by trade, but the couple also run The Sebastian Foundation together on the side.

They partner with charities and help families suffering from illness, living in poverty or experiencing domestic violence.

"The Sebastian Foundation came about quite organically, and I always wanted to have something official where we could make an impact. I hate the term 'give back', but I'm constantly exposed to people who go through so much in life, and just in my fan base, the plethora of things that people face from domestic violence, depression sickness... and now we're geared towards mental health, which is more in our sphere really," Guy told 9Entertainment.

Guy Sebastian: The Man The Music.

In mid-2020, a documentary about the singer's life, Guy Sebastian: The Man The Music, aired on Channel Nine.

Speaking to 9Entertainment, Guy shared that the documentary was "tough" to watch.

"It's like watching your life flash before your eyes," he said.

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"There are certain trigger points for me that made me really emotional. My kids of course, I'm always emotional about my kids."

Speaking to TV Week, the 39-year-old admitted that he feels "a bit young" to be having a "This is Your Life moment".

"I figured if both Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift have done behind-the-scenes docos recently, I could too," he added.

In the documentary, fans got an insight into Guy's childhood, family, and career.

In one particular scene, the singer's mother, Nellie, shared a number of Guy's school photos.

Image: Channel Nine. 

"I was never that kid that grew up dreaming to be famous. It didn't seem like a viable option – I grew up in suburban Adelaide! I was an immigrant, and a weird-looking chubby kid with an afro, and it's not something I ever thought would be possible," he told 9Entertainment.

"To think that I would ever think that I deserved to meet Oprah or perform to huge audiences, I think that's the moment that it's all done for me."

This article was originally published in July 2019, and was updated on April 28, 2021.

Feature Image: ABC.