Speaking to 10 play over the phone the singer, actor and champion of tucker trial blended drinks said she knew people would assume she’d be disappointed that she missed out on making the finale by just a few days, but she wasn’t.
“I had done my time and I absolutely enjoyed spending time with these people, I’m going to be friends with these people for ages… for life! But I was pumped to go home,” she said, adding. “When I was in the bottom three I was like, I don’t mind. I wasn’t mad!”
When she was first approached to appear on the show, Paulini said she was extremely apprehensive to agree, having just lost her father to prostate cancer several months earlier.
“You know when you kind of… I don’t know, you feel bad that you’re doing something so soon,” she said, “and mentally I just wasn’t so sure. So it took me a few weeks to really say yes.
“My dad… he was always one of those people that was like, ‘Every opportunity, take it. Do it’, and I know that he would have told me the same,” Paulini said.
Talking to her mum about it, she was given the same advice.
“She said dad would have wanted me to do it and that I should do it and learn from it. That’s pretty much what we can all do - we just learn from different experiences that we have, so I’m glad I did it.”
Paulini’s chosen charity was in support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), meaning every moment she spent in the jungle was in honour of her dad, and in support of those who are also battling the disease.
Admitting that there were times she was tempted to leave the jungle, knowing that she was sticking it out in support of PCFA, and raising awareness of what they do, she found strength and motivation.
“I knew if I could stay in the jungle for as long as I could just to get the word out there, then I was willing to do it. That gave you a lot of motivation, knowing that you were supporting a charity and helping others out.”
Though she was expecting to be pushed out of her comfort zone, Paulini said the hardest times in the jungle were the moments of downtime the celebs had.
“The only thing I struggled with was the boredom! Just being in camp doing nothing, that’s what I didn’t like. Everything else I loved!”
But those moments also forced the celebs to have honest conversations and open up to each other a lot more than they would otherwise. For Paulini, who describes herself as reserved and shy, those conversations were expected, but it surprised her how much she was willing to share with her campmates.
“I knew that if I was going to do something like this that I needed to challenge myself, and force myself to come out of my shell. To be raw and to be real.
“One of the biggest things I wanted to achieve on the show was for the Australian public to really get to know me as a person, my personality and not just someone who sings and the glamorous fake stuff that comes with being an entertainer. I wanted people to really see me for me. To get to know me better.”
Though she didn’t take home the crown, Paulini does leave the jungle a champion after chugging the worst drink ever in the history of I’m A Celebrity, something that will stay with her in more ways than one.
“I can’t ever forget that experience… I feel like it kinda traumatised me in a way,” she said, laughing.
“Everything about that challenge sticks in your head. The smell, the way the texture of all of those things gets meshed up together, having to gulp it and the things that were in it,” she said.
“I don’t think I’ll ever un-see, un-smell or ever forget that experience. But I did go out being very proud of myself.”
You can learn more about PCFA as well as the charities the other celebrities are supporting and how you can donate here.
I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Airs Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on Network 10 and 10 play