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From Aussie pop star to Trump cheerleader

By Graeme BakerBBC News, Washington

Getty Holly Valance, seen here at the height of her pop stardom in 2002Getty

Valance, seen here at the height of her pop stardom in 2002

She played a clean-cut schoolgirl in the Australian soap opera Neighbours, then reinvented herself as a pop star with racy chart-topping hits.

Now, two decades later, Holly Valance has become the UK poster girl for ex-US President Donald Trump’s bid to retake the White House.

On Wednesday, she hosted an exclusive fundraiser in London, where ticket prices started at $10,000 (£7,800) and dinner cost $50,000.

“It’s a Holly party,” Nigel Farage, a fellow Trump supporter and friend of Valance, told the London Times before the fundraising event near the Chelsea Embankment. “You can guarantee it’s going to be enormous fun.”

It is quite the public transformation for Valance, whose re-emergence as a political surrogate may surprise those in Britain and Australia who remember her as Felicity “Flick” Scully in Neighbours, or for her 2002 hit Kiss Kiss.

Born Holly Rachel Vukadinovic to Serb-British parents in Melbourne, Australia, in 1983, Valance attended a strict Catholic school where, she once said, wearing a hem too high could result in detention.

She began modelling for supermarket catalogues and ad campaigns by the age of 14.

Getty Valance and her husband, Nick CandyGetty

Valance and her husband, Nick Candy

Television stardom came soon after, before she embarked on a heady – if brief – career as a pop star with one album that scored three top 10 hits, before she returned to acting, starring as Nina Volek in hit US drama Prison Break.

Her politics, she has said, changed as she matured.

Valance, 41, who now lives in the UK with her billionaire property developer and Tory Party donor husband Nick Candy, told GB News earlier this year that “everyone starts as a lefty”, but “wakes up… then realise what crap ideas they all are”.

“And then you go to the right.”

In other interviews with the channel, she has expressed her dismay at “woke-ism” and the “Nanny state”.

“The Australia I grew up in was unreal. It was so fun and we didn’t seem to have all these problems… the woke stuff’s really gone big in Australia,” she said.

On sex education for children, she said: “I don’t think sexuality and children should be in the same sentence.”

On climate change, she has called Greta Thunberg a “demonic little gremlin”, who is celebrated despite “giving children no hope”.

Climate change is “not a crisis… the air is better than when I was growing up”, she has said.

“Cleaner, cheaper energy is what we need… we can have it… but when you are putting all these restrictions on normal people trying to go about their business – it’s just insanity.”

Her support for Trump, specifically, has firmed up as she has grown closer to Mr Farage. The veteran Brexit politician, who now leads the Reform Party, told the London Times that Valance had “kept quiet for many years”.

Twitter (L-R) Candy, Trump, Farage and Valance at Mar-a-LagoTwitter

(L-R) Candy, Trump, Farage and Valance at Mar-a-Lago

Mr Farage invited Valance and her husband to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s home in Florida, in April 2022.

The picture of the meeting, posted on X, formerly Twitter, cemented Valance’s place inside the Trump camp.

And so to Wednesday night in west London, where Valance was the star of arguably the biggest election fundraising event for Trump outside the US, attended by the former president’s son Don Jr, Mr Farage and some very wealthy American expats.

But her political influence does not stop there.

Valance has suggested that she had some influence in persuading Mr Farage to contest the Clacton constituency in the British election in July.

“I have been whispering in his ear for a long time,” she told GB News.

She has also suggested that she would campaign for Mr Farage.

“If he asks me, then probably,” she said.

However, she wondered whether “anyone wants to see me knocking on their doors anymore… Maybe 20 years ago”.

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