Hollywood's Bright Lights Dazzle Tina

By Jacinta Koch

After conquering the Australian music scene, Tina Arena had the lights of Hollywood burning brightly in her eyes.

She's keen to use the voice that won her five ARIA awards for more movie soundtracks - and she's aiming for a dramatic change from her soundtrack for the Hollywood romance One Fine Day.

"Hmm, I'd like a (Robert) De Niro film maybe," she said after arriving in Brisbane yesterday.

Arena admitted she wrote the songs for her number one album Don't Ask when she was on the road.

The young woman Australian's came to know as Young Talent Time's "Tiny Tina" once said she had about as much chance as Shirley Temple of being taken seriously as an adult performer.

Temple became US ambassador to Ghana and Chechoslovakia, and Arena reckons she, too, has become an ambassador - but through her music.

"I am pretty much ( an ambassador for Australia) - we're making a lot of noise overseas - I've paid a lot of dues," she said.

She's seen the rise and fall of fellow Young Talent Team members, and she's happy to admit she's no Dannii Minogue. "Wel, yeah, I think I came out of it ( Young Talent Time) a lot better than some," she smiled.

Arena, who is married to her manager Ralph Carr, turned 30 last month. Acording to Business Review Weekly, she earned $2.4 million last year. So why does she usually wear black and sing sad love songs?

"Well, life is full of bittersweet moments and memories, and my songs are kind of autobiographical," she said.

"A song like Burn is about a time in my life when I had to make a decision about taking my life to another level. About making a commitment. You just can't expect things to happen." It's Arena's attitude to life, in a nutshell.

"I'm an observer - I like watching people," she said, with a throaty laugh.

Arena performs at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre tomorrow night.