Sonia Kruger hosts The Voice Australia, whose live final airs tonight, and also hosts the morning TV program Today Extra. Kruger made her acting debut in 1992 as Tina Sparkle in the Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom and has since also hosted Dancing with the Stars and Big Brother Australia. Kruger is married to Craig McPherson, executive producer of Today Tonight, and the pair welcomed their first daughter, Maggie, in January 2015. After more than 20 years in the media industry, Kruger, 50, talks to me about motherhood, her “real screen kiss” with Dan Aykroyd and her most memorable blunder on live television.
The Voice final airs tonight. Who do you think will win?
It’s too hard to pick! All four artists are extremely talented and have all had incredible moments throughout the show. It’s up to Australia now to vote.
How do you prepare for the finale?
It’s a long day – meetings, rehearsals, hair and make-up, wardrobe and then the show … Sugar helps!
How will you celebrate tonight?
With a glass of champagne at the wrap party and a pair ugg boots at home!
If you were trying out for The Voice, which coach would you choose?
If I could sing [laughs] – which I can’t! I – would probably go with Ronan [Keating] or Delta [Goodrem]. Ronan has really surprised me this series. He is very forthright, especially when Jessie J has said something inadvertently that some people might think is a bit offensive. Ronan serves it back. He is a very easy person to talk to and he is really funny. Otherwise, I would pick Delta because she is our princess; she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. I love Delta so much.
Is the bickering between Ronan and Jessie J real or just for TV?
[No] it happens more than you see on television … Jessie is a bull at a gate and that bluntness irritates the other coaches.
What is a day in your life?
My day starts at 6am when I get ready to go to work at the Channel 9 studio. I will see if Maggie is awake and sometimes I wake her up so I can squeeze in a cuddle. Then I’m in hair and make-up and we start the live show at 9am. I finish at 1130am and I can go home and spend the afternoon with Maggie.
What do you love about working on Today Extra?
David [Campbell, the co-host] makes me laugh so much! It doesn’t feel like work, it is more of a chance to hang out with friends. The show is full of all the stuff I love: fashion, food, finance. There is so much variety each day and it offers something for everyone.
What has been the most memorable moment?
We had [actor] Dan Aykroyd on the show and we were talking about a screen test he had to do. All of a sudden he has grabbed me and went in for the big pash. It was hilarious having a spontaneous real screen kiss; it made for a great promo!
What is it like working on live television?
In the mornings, it is very relaxed. The plan is quite loose because you are doing a 2½-hour show. David and I love to say that we put the “semi” into professional! People seem to like that it is a little bit random. Someone said to me the thing they love about live television is the mistakes – it’s the mistakes we all remember. The Voice is a little different because it’s a real slick production and it’s prime-time. You know that a lot more people are watching so there is a bit more pressure to get it right, but then the fun factor goes up as well.
You talk about “mistakes”. What’s been your biggest mistake on air?
Oh I’ve made so many! On my first series of Big Brother I had to commentate on what was happening in the house. The executive producer was in my ear saying “Michael is making peace, he is the peacemaker” so I was like “OK Michael is making peace, there has been a fight in the house”. I’ve got the whole story going up and he was like, “No pizza, he’s making pizza!” and I burst out laughing … I’m sure the audience was like, “What is she talking and laughing about?”.
When you were younger, did you envisage your life as it is today?
I was always drawn to show business. When I was nine I started ballroom dancing. I was just in love with it and the sparkly costumes. I’m kind of very lucky that things have turned out the way they have, I have so many amazing opportunities, I’ve hosted some great shows and I feel very privileged to have done so much. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m an imposter! When they asked me to come and do The Voice, I was like “why?” [laughs]. But it’s great, I’m glad they asked.
What does Tina Sparkle mean to you?
When we made the movie, none of us thought it would be a commercial success. We thought it might be a bit of a cult film but not a commercial success because it’s a movie about ballroom dancing, who is going to watch this? However, Baz Luhrmann did such a great job and gave the movie such a unique feel. When people make reference to Tina Sparkle, they always apologise, and I’m like “Don’t apologise, I love it”. Elton John once told me that it is the nickname he gave to his hairdresser!
Who is the most inspiring person you have ever worked with?
I had to pinch myself when I worked with Daryl Somers. I grew up watching Hey Hey It’s Saturday and all of sudden I’m walking onto set and I’m co-hosting a show [Dancing with the Stars] with him. I was like, “how did I get here?”. He is a real statement in the entertainment industry. He doesn’t work with auto cue. We had nothing when we worked on Dancing with the Stars, which to me is flying by the seat of your pants.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
After more than 20 years in television, there are good and bad press days. A publicist once said to me, “Doll, as long as they get a nice picture and spell your name right then it is all fine”. No publicity is bad publicity [laughs].
How is your daughter Maggie?
She is great, she is running around and becoming a real chatterbox; I wonder where she gets that from! [Laughs.] But she is very much a daddy’s girl.
Are you enjoying motherhood?
Yes I’m loving it; life couldn’t be better right now, it’s perfect.
How has motherhood changed you?
I left the house the other day in tracksuit pants and ugg boots and I would never normally do that. Now when I go shopping, I go to the children’s section and that’s where I spend my money.
The Voice Australia’s live final screens Sunday, July 10, 7pm-9pm on Channel Nine; Today Extra airs weekdays from 9am.
WE WENT TO Bloom. The Healthy Food Company, Mosman
WE ATE Chicken salad with pistachio and honey lemon dressing.
WE DRANK English breakfast OVViO organic tea and fresh immune booster juice
SONIA WORE Kit X