Ripley Alexander Australian Idol

Interview: Australian Idol’s Ripley opens up about autism and the healing power of songwriting

"It's just a different brain"

Australian Idol 2024 delivered possibly the most shocking verdict of the reboot thus far when Ripley Alexander was sent home during the first Live Elimination show on February 27.

After 1.3 million votes were cast, Ripley, alongside Ivana, Imogen and TJ was placed in the bottom four with his following departure leaving all four judges, the viewers at home and Ripley “shocked”.

“I’m still a bit shocked if I’m completely honest with you,” the 19-year-old said in an interview with Chattr the morning after his elimination; adding that he had actually felt like he was going hom.

“Yeah, I just woke up [on the morning of the Live Show] and I was like, it doesn’t feel right today,” he revealed. “But believe me, I wanted to stay.”

Ripley Alexander, Australian Idol. Seven
Ripley Alexander, Australian Idol. Seven

Ripley Alexander on writing songs and his autism diagnosis

While his incredible vocal range and all-round persona have captured the Nation, there’s no doubt that this is not the last we’ll see of the singer who has vowed “to get a record deal and release some of my own music”.

When questioned whether they were songs he wrote, he was quick to tell us that he had penned over 300, likening writing lyrics to writing in a journal — prompting him to reveal that he has autism.

“It’s cathartic,” he said of writing. “It’s one of those things that I can’t explain. I don’t show a lot of emotions — autism kind of does that to people — and I find writing songs is my outlet for just life and I can be whoever I want to be. I choose to be myself when I’m writing.”

While something that he has had to learn to live with, for Ripley, having the diagnosis is “not an excuse”.

“I can’t speak for everyone but I’m sick and tired of people without autism trying to use autism as an excuse,” he said. “It’s just a different brain. It’s not something that hurts. It’s not something that changes. It changes your everyday perspective, and I am who I am.”

Ripley Alexander Australian idol
Ripley Alexander, Australian Idol. Seven

Ripley on his Harry Styles comparison

When Ripley catapulted to stardom with his take on Mamma Mia during the audition round (which has now garnered him 122.2k followers on TikTok), people likened him to Harry Styles.

And while previously he’d jump to say he was different to the global pop star, he now says he doesn’t “give him enough credit”.

“I don’t think I’d be as comfortable being myself if it wasn’t for him,” he said.

Australian Idol continues at 7.00pm on Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30 pm on Channel 7 and 7plus.

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