EXCLUSIVE: Bindi Irwin Talks Life After 'Dancing With the Stars,' Calls Boyfriend Chandler Powell the 'Sunshin
By Desiree Murphy
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Bindi Irwin can't stop smiling -- but can you blame her?
The Dancing With the Stars champion, and daughter of the late Steve Irwin, is now 17 years old and has been growing up right in front of our eyes. A lot has obviously happened since she took home the mirror ball trophy during season 21 of the competition show, and she couldn't be happier.
Bindi recently stopped by the ET set in Los Angeles with her mother, Terri, and brother, Robert. During her interview, Bindi was ecstatic to fill us in on some of her recent milestones.
"I officially have my driver's license," she excitedly told ET's Cameron Mathison. "Although, it was a little intimidating for the driving instructor because I was in my dad's old ute -- it's this giant beast of a truck and it's a manual and it's really old, so he was a bit nervous as he got into this [utility vehicle]."
Her mother chimed in, adding, "It was so exciting. She's like the little baby bird on the edge of the nest. She's just about to fledge."
About to be free, indeed! Bindi also told us that she's already prepared herself for college.
"I'm really lucky because I'm already taking college courses," she revealed. "I'm really excited."
"It's something that I've been really thrilled about," she continued. "I've been kind of doing [it] behind the scenes, and I'm thrilled to have a certificate in business now. I'm just finishing my certificate in tourism. So I'm really happy about that!"
One person who's been cheering her on, thousands of miles away in Florida, is her boyfriend, Chandler Powell. The cute couple has been together for nearly three years now.
"I think what's really wonderful about Chandler is that no matter what is happening, he's always there for me and he always makes me smile and laugh and it's brilliant to have someone so kind who really understands your world," the wildlife conservationist gushed. "He loves wildlife, he loves conservation and he's just really passionate about making a difference and he's always such a kind person, which is great."
"I'm not sure who loves him more. Me or my family," Bindi added. "It's really funny. Every time I get to the airport to see him, Robert always says, 'I'm going to hug him before you do.' It's really sweet and I think that for me, it's nice to have that kind of sunshine in my life all the time."
Bindi said that she learned a lot about love from her own parents, who were married for 14 years before her father died in 2006.
"I think that my mum and dad taught me the value of unconditional love and just always being there for each other," the Australian native explained. "It's like our roles have been reversed. Mom met [my dad] in Australia. I met someone in America, and it's a really beautiful story, and I think my parents have really taught me the value of being kind, being loyal and just always loving someone unconditionally. So I'm very lucky."
Bindi's mom said she was happy to have had her "happily ever after" with "The Crocodile Hunter."
"It was very good," Terri shared. "I was very lucky."
Although Bindi and Chandler haven't made their love official with an engagement ring (yet!), they've already had some fairy tale moments.
"In Australia, we really don't have prom, so for me, I was thrilled when Chandler asked me to his prom," Bindi explained. "Robert was really excited too, so he decided to get in on the action."
The verdict? An epic photobomb!
"I felt like I was living in a movie and was a real life Disney princess," she captioned a collage of pics from prom via Instagram. "Gosh I'm blessed. Thank you @chandlerpowell it meant the world to me."
Bindi is excited that she'll get to spend a little more time with Chandler when she's in the United States for an upcoming gala honoring her dad.
"We decided to have our very first Steve Irwin Gala dinner right here in Los Angeles," she told ET, adding that she thinks it's the "perfect time" for it and expects it to be "a beautiful evening."
"We're going to have all of the Dancing With the Stars [cast] coming because they're our family now," she continued. "I'm excited for this event -- it's on May 21, and [we're] just getting together with as many people who want to join us as possible. We're excited to celebrate everything that dad stood for, truly."