Television journalist Sylvia Jeffreys is a presenter on the Today show alongside Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic and she announced her engagement to Peter Stefanovic, Karl’s brother and a fellow journalist, over Instagram while holidaying in Europe this month. Jeffreys, 30, revealed to me about how their romance started on set, what she is most looking forward to in her married life, and her training preparations for The Sun-Herald City2Surf on August 14.
Congratulations on your engagement!
Thank you. It’s exciting; it’s a really happy time. We’re completely touched from receiving so many beautiful messages from people, not just in our family and our circle of friends but well beyond that, including all of our Today show viewers. It has been really heart-warming to get all that love.
How did Pete propose?
Pete wouldn’t let me give you all the details! It was in France, in the Bordeaux region, it was beautiful. I called the show and told them all about it, after it happened. He was on one knee in a vineyard and popped the question. We held onto it for a couple of weeks so that we could surprise our friends who we were meeting up with overseas. So it’s nice coming home now and being able to have a second wave of celebrations.
Do you have any wedding plans yet?
No plans … I don’t even know where to start. So we’re just enjoying it for the moment.
What is it like working with your fiance?
We’re both so focused on the job and there are obviously natural elements of your personal life that kind of creep through on the Today show because that’s the nature of the show. But we both just put our heads down and do the job that we’re there to do and carry on.
Did you meet at Channel 9?
Yes, we met hosting the weekend Today show over the Christmas period a few years ago. That was the first time we met face to face and it was soon after that that we started courting.
Was it love at first sight?
Oh sort of, yes [laughs]. We sort of bumped into each other in a car park at Channel 9 one day before we started hosting together … I think it was pretty obvious, certainly was to everyone around me – my mum and my sister, in particular, knew that there was something there.
What are you most looking forward to in married life?
It’s this great sense of anticipation about everything at the moment … It feels like now we’re sort of moving forward at a pretty quick rate. But I look forward to slowing down and just easing into life together and navigating everything that comes our way together.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I suppose it’s dealing with the really sensitive issues that come up on the show. We deal with everything, from crime to feel-good human stories to everything in between. There are stories that really hit you for six, and you can’t really prepare for that and you don’t have a lot of time to think about it or think about how you would respond … so it can be challenging.
Tell me about your City2Surf ambassador role.
I was just thrilled to be invited to be a part of it because I needed that motivation … I’ve done the event once before, it’s such a great community event. It’s so much fun, the atmosphere is beautiful and you end up down at Bondi at the end too, which is a reward in itself.
Are you currently training for the race?
Yes, quite conveniently, it’s probably helping me with my wedding training as well. Obviously running makes you feel good, but mentally, for me, exercise is crucial with my hours, when you’re starting at three o’clock in the morning. There is a very genuine link between early starts and shift work and regular hours and depression. I’m not saying that I’m suffering depression, but you can have lows, you can feel flat and you can feel a bit irritable and … I would rather stay on top of things by eating well and looking after myself physically and mentally.
When you were younger did you always aspire to be doing what you’re doing today?
I did. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a journalist and went straight from school into a gap year and then came back and did journalism at university. But there were periods where I wanted to be a swimmer and I wanted to swim for Australia.
What was your first big break?
I’m not sure if it was a big break, it was a very bottom of the bottom rung of the ladders – just short of running coffees, essentially. I was writing scripts for the newsreaders in the Brisbane newsroom and rolling their autocue. It was a very junior role but I did that for a very long time through university … I ended up reporting on a TV show called Extra, which was on before the news in Brisbane. My first story was on the benefits of mini water tanks around the home and how they’re flexible and versatile and can be moved around the backyard.
What has been the best advice someone has given you?
Probably the most crucial advice came in on my first day at Channel 9 from the executive producer in the newsroom, Ron Krueger, who said, “Never assume anything”, and that comes into play in every single bulletin that I do on the Today show to this day. You can’t assume that anything is fact or true, so you have to sort of do your research and cover things off and make sure you’re on the right track.
What is it like working with Karl [Stefanovic] and Lisa [Wilkinson]?
Well, it’s fun but it’s also such a privilege. They’re two people with a wealth of experience between the two of them. I couldn’t ask to be sponging off better people in the industry… Obviously working next to Karl is a bit of a rollercoaster and sometimes a challenge in itself, but a fun one.
It must be fun working alongside your future brother in-law?
Yes … Is there somewhere to divorce brother in-law? [Laughs.] He is fantastic and he, obviously, has a reputation for being a ratbag, which he probably deserves, but he also is a very generous and supportive person, which he doesn’t like me saying, because apparently it wouldn’t do his reputation any good!
Karl must be thrilled about your upcoming wedding.
I think he is more excited about the bucks; he is already floating some ideas. I think Thailand has been floated for a week, which I vetoed!
WE WENT TO Italian Street Kitchen, Neutral Bay.
WE ATE Aranchini with Roasted pumpkin, smoked Provolone, Parmesan, thyme and panko crumb; Bruschetta with Fresh tomato, garlic, basil; Caprese salad with cherry tomatos, Bocconcini cheese, oregano, basil & extra virgin olive oil; Buffalo margerita pizza with Buffalo mozzarella, Parmesan and basil; Spaghetti marinara Rosso with fresh seafood sautéed with garlic and chilli in Napoli sauce
WE DRANK Sparkling mineral water
SYLVIA WORE Willow top, AG denim and Country Road boots