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Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate: Sophie Monk

6th November, 2016



Sophie Monk rose to fame as a singer in the girl band Bardot, has appeared in movies and this year was a judge on Australia’s Got Talent. She now co-hosts The Summer Fling breakfast show on radio station KIIS 1065. Monk, 37, talks to me about her career, the challenges of being in media and her plans to move behind the camera.

What are you up to at the moment?

I’m filing in for Kyle and Jacki O over summer and I’m working on a pilot for my own show. We haven’t worked out exactly the angle yet but it’s pretty exciting.

What’s a day in the life of you? 

Every day is like random and interesting. Some days I would be getting up at 3am or 4am for breakfast radio, and then other ones where it’s like late-night functions or, if you’re doing a movie, that’s just like you have no life for about three months.

You have had a long and successful career as a singer, actor and now radio presenter. What have you enjoyed the most? 

I get bored really easy, so I love to just be able to do a bit of everything … I guess I’m just an entertainer.

What do you love most about live radio?

I love being challenged, I think, and you get instant gratification on radio, whereas you do a movie and it’s like a year later you might see it, and you’re kind of over it by then. You know radio: people are like, “Oh my God, that’s so like me,” and then the more people say that, the more open I am.

Does it come naturally to be an open person on radio or is it something you have to work on?

[The media] just pick on you for little things and people on the street didn’t really know me and I just thought, “Well I’m going to be honest and me because what have I got to lose? … I just thought, “Well, I’m just going to be honest. If I’m a goober, I’m going to be it,” and all of a sudden, I was like, “wow” – actually people reacted well rather than badly … Kyle Sandilands helped a lot.

What was Kyle’s advice to you? 

He would just say, “Who cares what people think – tomorrow is another story, pretty much.” And, yeah, just saying, “There is nothing bad in what you’re doing”… As long as people don’t think I’m a bad person, it doesn’t really matter.

Tell me about your childhood?

I’d say I wasn’t naughty, like drugs or anything – I’ve never been into that – but more cheeky, always making people laugh in the class, and the teachers couldn’t really get control of the class. Then I did dance and singing and acting after school … I was always going to be on the stage, so I used school as the time that was chill-out time, to be honest, and I didn’t learn anything.

What was it like to be part of Australia’s Got Talent? 

I love watching people go out and try their hardest, even just the confidence in people [who are] actually not talented. Sorry but, it’s like, “Where do you get it from?”

Will you do another season?

Yes, depending on what happens with everything. It all comes down to scheduling, timing and whatever. But, yes, I’d definitely consider it.

Tell me about your film Blood Feast, released earlier this year?

It’s a horror film. I shot it right after Celebrity Apprentice. I mean the day after, that night. It was like announced and the next morning I flew to Germany. I’m the lead, Penny. It’s a remake of Blood Feast, which is one of the bloodiest films ever.

What attracts you to horror films? 

I tend to get cast in them a lot. I think once you’re in that horror circle, it’s such a different genre and the audience loyalty.

What was it like working on Click and Date Movie?

Oh, they were super fun because when you’re doing comedy everyone is happy. But if you are working on something dark and serious, you can get a bit negative.

What did you learn from your experience from winning season four of Celebrity Apprentice? 

You realise you do have to hustle and you do have to delegate to people and you need to know how to find more people …You’ve got to be out of your comfort zone; it might be something you don’t want to do, but if you want to be successful in business you’ve got to push yourself out of that comfort.

When you started with Bardot, did you think your career in entertainment would go for as long as it has?

I think it all happened so quickly, to be honest, to me – and young – that I never really had time to think about it … I don’t know if I ever went “I want to be famous”; I’ve never ever actually wanted that … I always knew I wanted to perform.

What do you think has been the secret to your success? 

I think the ups and downs. I think a lot of people in this industry that maybe are a little bit conceited, have never had a fall. But you’ve got to have those falls so then when you get back up, appreciate it to go, “It won’t last that long,” and then you have another fall and then you are popular again. It keeps you in check … I’ve definitely had ups and downs, massive ones. And so you can just deal with them all, your tolerance is higher. Yes, not as sensitive, and you’re more sensitive to the audience as well, and what they’re like.

What has been the most challenging moment in your career?

Well, just like dating … you are in a relationship and it becomes a job, because everyone wants to interview you about it. It’s a weird world that you kind of go, “Well, that’s what the audience want,” you’ve got to give it to them. But it’s like, “Are you keeping something for yourself that is special?” That’s tricky.

[You are currently dating former rugby league player Eric Grothe.] How did you meet?

I’ve known him a while through family on the GC [Gold Coast].

What do you look for in a guy? 

[Someone who will] make me laugh and make me feel secure and safe, because it’s quite an insecure industry … I think you want someone that just makes you feel good about yourself and is always there for you, no matter what.

Is there anything on your bucket list career-wise still to cross off?

I think I’d like to do a fashion line that’s affordable for the audience …Yeah, well I’m kind of working on it now … It doesn’t bother me whether I stay in front of the camera or behind, I love producing as well.

Is there someone you look up to and admire in the industry? 

I like Kerri-Anne Kennerley. I think she is pretty cool, the stuff she has gone through and how she has just kept [a successful] career.

What do you do for fun? 

Work is my hobby at the moment, but in my spare time I spend it with family. I’m obsessed with my family, it’s ridiculous.

What is next for you?

I think a bit of travel if I can fit it in while building a house for my parents on my property. Mum can cook dinner for me, which is awesome because my cooking skills are the worst.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

I’ve no idea. People say, “You should do that.” It’s like look ahead and then you achieve that goal, but I think I just, I hate to say it, but I think the older you get, you just want to be happy … So it’s just if you are happy and enjoying your life. You know, I would like to be comfortable, meaning not struggling with money because I’ve worked so hard.



WE WENT TO Missy French

WE ATE Lemon Meringue and Crème Brûlée



Date with Kate


4th September, 2016

Merrick and I enjoying lunch at Mistelle while he shares his plans for Father’s Day


Merrick Watts began work doing stand-up comedy in pubs and has gone on to a 17-year career as a comic, radio host and TV presenter. The 43-year-old now hosts Triple M’s drive-time show, Merrick and Australia, each weekday. The father of two chats to me about his plans today for Father’s Day and the best part of being a dad.

How will you spend Father’s Day?

I will receive some home-made/drawn cards from the kids. I get these every year and if it never stopped I’d never complain.

How do you like to be spoilt?

Lasagne! The kids help [my wife] Georgie in the preparation and then help Dad to the couch for a lie-down after eating.

What is the best thing about being a dad?

Being loved by the very people you love the most … and lasagne.

Do your kids listen to you on the radio?

Yes, so my kids listen to my show passively because my wife will listen to it in the car when they get picked up from school. They will listen to it at home and if you ask my son what I do for a living, he says, ‘Daddy makes people happy, it’s his job’ … So that makes my job seem a lot better, rather than, ‘My dad is an egocentric wanker’, which is also correct.

What is the best aspect of your job?

I love hearing stories, that’s my favourite thing – hearing other people’s stories on the radio.

What is the worst?

I know it sounds bad – I’d say meetings. In the past, generally in radio, meetings are what really drags people like myself down.

Is there a lot of preparation that goes into the show?

Yes, sadly there is because when you listen to it, you think, ‘God, there is no preparation in that show’. But one of the great tricks of radio, they say, is to hear a show and to make it sound like not too much work has gone into it. You shouldn’t be able to hear the labour that has gone into the show.

What is the most challenging aspect of drive radio?

Just coming up with new ideas and new content and not letting things get stale. I think that’s the challenge with any radio: to have a consistency of product and consistency of content in your show. People can have an expectation, but also too you’ve got to challenge yourself to do things differently or do things out of your comfort zone … I think everyone is guilty of it today certainly, but even if you’ve got a strong work ethic you can slip into a comfortable pattern.

How do you get yourself out of that?

The hardest thing is to be aware of being in a pattern. I think you don’t realise that you’ve kind of fallen in this malaise of not challenging yourself. But I think every now and again you get a little wake-up – you’ll see somebody … [and] they’ll challenge you in one way or another and it kind of reminds you to push yourself.

What has been the most confronting situation on air? 

I think when someone tells you a very personal story, and it might be a tragic loss or a sick child – one of those stories where you’re not expecting them to talk about that and then they bring it up and you think you’ve got to be sympathetic and empathetic. But you’ve also got to remind yourself that you’ve got a listening audience. So you’ve got to balance that … As soon as you get off the phone to them, you make sure if they need any counselling or if they need somebody to talk to.

You started your career as a stand-up comedian. How did you get into that?

I was not very good at anything else … My mum wanted me to be a police officer [but] I had no ambition to do anything else other than be a fool!

Do you still do stand-up regularly?

[Yes] … stand-up teaches you to be sharp, it teaches to work literally, to hone your wit. Also it kind of teaches you and shows you, at the coalface, what’s kind of resonating with people.

Do you still get nervous doing stand-up?

I get nervous sometimes if I’m trying new material out or I’m in a different circumstance to what I’m used to.

When you have a tough audience, what’s your fail-safe joke?

Just find somebody in the room who either thinks that they’re the most powerful person in the room or somebody who has got tickets on themselves … When in doubt, target someone and bring them down … and then that way, everybody kind of laughs and usually it’s a good jawbreaker.

Were you the class larrikin at school?

I was the class clown as a small child. I think that’s why I fell into comedy because, I guess, I had no other skills. I tried builders labouring and I tried various things and I worked in hospitality when I was young as well, but I wasn’t really good at anything and I had no application.

If you hadn’t gone down the career path of media, what would you be doing?

I’d like to think that I’d be an artist, as my father was a painter … But the reality is I probably would have been a yabby farmer. Having said that, I’m still thinking about becoming a yabby farmer one day.

What else are you working on?

I continually write things … Most comedians have several little home projects that you kind of chip away at over a period of time. There is lots of little things that I’ve written or I’ve got held over that maybe one day I’ll produce it. I can’t produce now because I’m producing this radio, but maybe one day I’ll develop into something else.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully, in exactly the same position I’m in now. I’ve done radio for 17 years at either drive or breakfast in senior level, so the two plum jobs in the country. So I’ve been very, very fortunate and I’d like to continue doing it.


WE WENT TO Mistelle, Double Bay

WE ATE Cold smoked salmon nicoise with green beans, egg, potato, heirloom tomatoes, olives and white anchovies; Buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil; Double baked gruyere soufflé with sand crab, bisque and caviar.

WE DRANK Sparkling mineral water

MERRICK WORE Calibre suit and shirt.