WHO caught up with award-winning journalist Lisa Wilkinson to see how she’s going following a whirlwind few months, which included her departure from the Today show and the recent passing of her mum.
How are women changing Australian television?
I think you’d be shocked if you went back 30 years to observe who was hosting and reporting on Australian television. It would be very rare to see a woman over the age of 35, but now on most of the major news and current affairs programs — Four Corners, Insight, 7.30, A Current Affair, obviously The Project, but we’re more 50/50—women are really ruling the airwaves and it’s nice that the balance has finally started to be redressed.
What is the challenge of being a woman on TV?
We still get treated differently when it comes to how we look and what’s expected of us in that department. But if you’re female and you work on Australian TV you just have to work with that and not against that and work out— particularly if you’re a journalist— what actually matters.
Has changing your TV roles been invigorating?
Completely, because I am no longer sleep-deprived and that’s made an enormous difference to me and everyone in my immediate circle of friends and family. It’s wonderful to be able to get out on the road and do longer-form journalism ... And everyone has been so ridiculously welcoming that I’m just so thrilled I made the change.
It must have been a tough time, losing your mother on top of all the Today dramas.
She was 89 so in many ways I’m so grateful to have had her for so long, and my mum was an absolute fighter. For the last 25 years there were about four occasions when we thought we were going to lose her. And they were all different health issues, but she fought on and came back. So we’d got to the point where we actually thought Mum was bulletproof. I grew up with a homemaker mum, and as proud as I know Mum was of me, she would always worry about, you know, “Are you sure you want to do this? Don’t keep taking on these big challenges!” So I kind of had to assure Mum that it was worth having a go, but she worried about me right to the very end. And in fact, Mum was the first person I went to visit after the whole Today show series of events unfolded, because Mum was really worried that I wasn’t going to be OK.
How are you coping?
Look, I miss her terribly, what can I say? But that’s life ... We’re all walking around with an invisible date on our forehead. And you never know when that date is going to be yours. So it’s just a reminder. Live every day with love and kindness and keep challenging yourself, keep growing.
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