Holly Valance, at the age of 12 initially wanted to work part-time at McDonald's to help pay for school books and shoes, but needed to be 14. So she turned to modelling instead - earning around £20,000 in the first year, reports The Daily Mail.
‘Money was tight and Mum used to do two jobs in order to support us,' she says. ‘I never felt hard done by and never wanted for anything, but I grew up in a wealthy area and it made me want to go out there and earn some money to be able to buy things for myself.'
At the age of 16, she skipped her last year at school to join the television soap Neighbours. Soon she was being described as Australia's biggest star since Kylie.
Voted No 2 in lads' mag FHM's top 100 girls, she made a seamless transition from Neighbours soap star to sexy pop star.
Posing seductively at the age of 19 in a revealing top and knee-high leather stiletto boots, her debut single Kiss Kiss shot to No 1 in 2002, with a sassy follow-up single in Down Boy.
Today she's an actress, and can next be seen on Monday in ITV1's latest Agatha Christie Marple drama The Pale Horse.
‘The wig was so tight that it gave me a migraine and it's certainly not sexy, but now I'm doing exactly what I want to do,' she explains.
‘And I'd never done a period drama so it's great to tick another box.'
As if that weren't good luck enough, Holly has bagged a billionaire boyfriend - and it's true love. ‘I've got such a disgusting, wide, smug grin on my face all the time that my friends just want to slap me,' she giggles. ‘I've never been so happy.'
If Holly wants a swimming pool which turns into a dance floor at the touch of a button, she just has to ask. Or a mirror with a 360-degree video to see what her bottom looks like from behind?
She just has to click her fingers. Not that she ever would, though, as she says she'll never get used to her 37-year-old boyfriend Nick Candy's surreal world of the super-rich.
‘Is he actually a billionaire?' She smiles.
'I was used to razzle dazzle and meeting lots of famous people, but I wasn't used to super-yachts and private jets. It was, like, “Wow!" '
Nick and Christian Candy are the slick, sharp brothers on a roll since transforming a £6,000 loan from their grandmother into a £9 billion global property portfolio of the world's most prestigious real estate.
‘The wealth and the lifestyle were overwhelming initially,' admits Holly, 27.
‘I was used to razzle dazzle and meeting lots of famous people, but I wasn't used to super-yachts and private jets.
‘It was like: “Wow!”
‘I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it, and I'm not sure Nick will either because he's also from a very normal background.'
You can see that Holly, who has always had steady, long-term relationships since her teens, loves being in love.
‘Nick's got to be the funniest person I've ever met in my life - he's hysterical. We're like two kids running around London all the time, giggling in the back of taxis. I do love being around him. We're great mates.'
Does he treat her often? ‘It's worse than that - I am a spoilt brat. My friends and my sister say: “I hate you!” when I show them what he's bought me.
‘I got a pretty good birthday present,' she smiles, rolling up her sleeve to reveal a stunning rose gold Rolex Daytona watch, worth around £20,000.
And that was just one of the gifts.
‘Nick's so generous with all his friends and family.'
But she had no idea about his Gatsby-rich status when they first met at a dinner party.
‘I didn't know anything about him. I just thought “Cor, if I didn't fancy you so much, we'd be the best of friends. Instead, I just want to make out with you all the time".'
When she did learn about his wealth, Holly ‘freaked out'.
‘I rang my mum and said: “I don't think I can do this because it's just too much.”
'And she said: “You can't hold that against the man. He's a hard-working genius and he's got as much right as anyone else to love and be loved. So you just stop looking at his bespoke chandelier and his gorgeous car and start focusing on him.”
‘She was right, of course, so I started to walk through his house looking at my feet so I didn't notice anything too flash and didn't stop in my tracks and think “Oh my God!”.'
Her first jaw-dropping moment came when she visited the Candy brothers' £50 million super-yacht Candyscape II, with its permanent standby crew and a state-ofthe-art 100in plasma screen, which meant the boat had to be specially re-balanced.
‘When I saw the boat for the first time, I was stunned and said “Oh dear God! It's a mansion on water. It's incredible”.
‘I don't think I'll ever get used to it, and I'm certainly glad I'm not the one paying the maintenance on it.
‘Instead, when I think of Nick's wealth, I think “You're the hardest-working person I know and you really deserve your money”.'
Not that Nick Candy is the only deserving one. Holly has always been a hard worker, and even now is not resting on her laurels.
After leaving Neighbours, she launched her pop career in London in 2002 in what she now describes as a whirlwind of naivety.
‘I just didn't understand the concept of being famous. I liked being able to look after my mum and buy a nice car, but I didn't get the whole package.
‘Instead, I'd go to a film premiere and insist on walking in the back door because I didn't understand that the reason I was invited was to be photographed on the red carpet. I'd get into so much trouble.
‘I didn't even know I was paying for a publicist. I thought he was just a guy who liked coming to gigs with me and then I got a shock when he presented his bill! I was so naive. I learnt the hard way.'
Raunchy songs such as All In The Mind, Naughty Girl and Tuck Your Shirt In served only to seal her pin-up image, and TV watchdogs even deemed her dance routines too sexy for children's television.
It's a world away from her life today.
‘When I watch my music videos, I scream “What was I doing?”.
'I am so shy now. I've turned into a grandma.
‘Nick only saw a few of the videos recently and nearly had a coronary. He turned and said “Darling, I didn't realise they were like this". I was sitting next to him, squirming.'
Has he seen Holly kissing model and TV presenter Alexa Chung in her Down Boy video?
‘No. I try to censor what I show him.
‘Kissing Alexa was all part of the fun but I was totally different then. I still feel sexy now but I don't have to do dance routines in scantily clad outfits to feel that way. I have to pretend it's not me now otherwise it's just too mortifying. I was just playing a character.'
She was born in Melbourne to an English model mother, Rachel, and Yugoslav jazz guitarist and model father, Rajko. They separated when Holly was four.
‘My childhood was wonderful and my parents have always been there for me at all times,' she says, ‘But I became fiercely independent.'
In 2003 an Australian court ordered her to pay £150,000 to her former manager Scott Michaelson, who had sued her for breach of contract.
It meant she had to put on hold plans to buy her mother a house ‘which was really frustrating'.
If she has any regrets about anything in the past, it's that ‘I wish I'd kept my mouth shut more often,' she laughs.
In one outspoken attack, she described British men as louts, accused British women of dressing too raunchily and the British nation in general as being obsessed by sex.
This smacked of the pot calling the kettle black. After that, Valance shunned the media spotlight and raunchy cover shoots for a much lower profile.
When her second album, State Of Mind, didn't break into the Top 50, she headed to the U.S. and immediately forged a successful acting career with roles in hit TV series such as Entourage, CSI: Miami and Prison Break, and in the film DOA: Dead Or Alive.
'I get the whole fame thing now. So instead of walking around looking at my feet, feeling so shy, when I see the paparazzi now I look them in the eye and say “Hi guys” '
‘I was fed up of being on the road, so I went to Los Angeles to start again,' she explains.
‘I arrived with no work lined up.
‘Being in Hollywood was liberating because I was able to be anonymous and fall out of nightclubs with friends without it being splashed over the papers. I was able to have the childhood I never had.'
So what brings her back to London? Nick Candy?
‘Yes - now,' she laughs. ‘But before that I was hungry for a change, plus I get the whole fame thing now. So instead of walking around looking at my feet, feeling so shy, when I see the paparazzi now, I look them in the eye and say “Hi guys”.'
In Agatha Christie's Marple: The Pale Horse, with Julia McKenzie returning as supersleuth Miss Jane Marple, Holly plays an Australian called Kanga - ‘I have Cruella De Vil hair and am quite bolshie.'
The star-studded cast includes Nigel Planer, Pauline Collins and Sarah Alexander.
‘Now I feel like I'm part of an institution,' says Holly.
She is also starring in a string of films this year: Surviving Georgia, Big Mamma's Boy and Red Herring.
‘I need to be selective in the roles I take because I like to fill my day with a million things,' she says.
‘I'm always jumping on a plane and visiting another city.'
Is that for work or pleasure?
‘Both, as I'm always networking.'
Private jet or commercial?
‘The boys have a plane but we don't use it that much, so we might take the private jet then come back on easyJet. There's no rhyme or reason.
‘Nick's got a wicked sense of humour and he's a real clown, so we just tease each other all day long. But I've never met such a hard worker: he's up at 7am each day, works out and then goes to work long before I fall out of bed.
‘He's grown up with a normal, hard-working family and he hasn't always had money, so he still thinks it's quite surreal, too. I hope that doesn't ever go away and you can slap me if it does. And him, too!
‘As long as I've got a sandwich at lunch, I'm happy. He's not a gross type of millionaire who buys 100 bottles of champagne at dinner to impress when they should be building orphanages. He loves value and getting value for money.
‘He will buy some crazy present for me, but then check a bill at a restaurant or gets annoyed if he loses £200 on roulette. But he loves shopping for clothes, bags and shoes with me. He has a great eye.'
As a real estate entrepreneur, Candy sells the luxury lifestyle but also lives it himself at his London and Monaco homes, where Holly stays when she's not away filming.
‘The Candy design is stunning. The Monaco home is like nothing I've ever seen before,' says Holly.
‘The floor-to-ceiling library is spectacular but then so is everything else. I couldn't be more proud - I'm such a saddo.
‘I'll send him pictures of anything I find stunning, like bevelled mirrors. And he'll send pictures to me saying “Which tile - A or B?”.'
Did she have any input on the Candys' current venture, One Hyde Park in London's Knightsbridge, the most expensive development in British history which was bought for £150 million and has been developed into 80 apartments selling for a reported £20 million to £140 million?
‘No, but I salivate when I see the show homes; it ruins you for life. We live together, but it's not like we can ever share the purchase of a joint home. Trying to match anything of Nick's is impossible, but I'll contribute as much as I can.'
But who will decide on the decor?
‘I love the line in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding which says the man is the head of the house but the woman is the neck who can turn the head in any way she wants to.'