Social Media Star Tanya Hennessy on Comedy, Characters, and Family

"At the core of everything that I do is wanting people to smile and laugh."
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A day on set with Tanya Hennessy is one full of laughs – the hurt your stomach kind of laughing – and just pure fun.

The 38-year-old has an infectious way of getting the best out of everyone around her, and you can tell from 30 seconds of being in her presence that seeing anyone smile means her job is done. But what exactly is her job? Even Hennessy can’t answer it.

“Oh, people are always asking me what I actually do,” she tells WHO with her trademark cackle.

WATCH: Tanya Hennessy’s Realistic Makeup Tutorial. Article continues after video. 

“At the core of everything that I do is wanting people to smile and laugh, so comedy is part of all that I do,” she says. “So I always say I am a comedian first – but I don’t believe in limits.”

It would be unjust to simply list “comedian” as Hennessy’s sole job. The Newcastle-born funnywoman is currently writing a TV show, hosts a podcast on Nova, is the author of the It’s Stevie Louise teen book series, has just released a fun Christmas book called Pink Santa – and has launched her makeup line Breakfast at Hennessy’s with Priceline.

“I’m tired, that’s for sure!” she laughs.

“At the core of everything that I do is wanting people to smile and laugh.” (Credit: Phillip Castleton)

For many, the first time they came across Hennessy was when she entered the South African jungle in 2020 for I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

“I had actually had 10 years radio experience before that, so it was a case of video killed the radio star,” she says.

“But after I did that show, everything exploded for me, that’s when the phone started ringing and I was on every panel show that existed, from Hughesy, We Have a Problem, to Play School, The Living Room and so many more.”

The former radio personality has dipped her toe into the world of reality TV. (Credit: Phillip Castleton)

Being in the jungle for Hennessy was not easy at all – she hasn’t watched one single episode of her time on I’m a Celebrity – and she admits it broke her in a way that helped her see what was important to her in the real world.

“I realised just how much I needed to be around people and how important my friends and family are to me to be sane,” she explains.

And while she would never return to the camp for I’m a Celebrity, and is hesitant in general about reality TV, the one show she is desperate to get the call up for is Dancing with the Stars.

“I’m obsessed with [judge] Todd McKenney,” she says. “I love him so much, and the show looks so fun and I want to be in sequins.”

“It’s my passion to tell stories.” (Credit: Phillip Castleton)

Hennessy’s name has been in the headlines for far more personal reasons since her fame rose after her reality TV jaunt. And it’s a headline that she wishes she could erase at times. After opening up on her social media platform about the struggles her and fiancé Thomas Poole have had to fall pregnant, she feels she has “become the face of fertility”.

“The biggest problem is that everyone knows,” she shares. “When I’m out shopping I’m getting constant advice from people and I have been living this for six or seven years.

“This is just genuinely the truth, I don’t want to be the face of fertility anymore because I feel like I am embarrassed because it has been so long and people start to feel sorry for you,” Hennessy confesses. “It’s also the burden of everyone’s ‘want’ of good news for you, so the people pleaser in me feels like I’m letting people down.”

Tanya’s characters, such as Tracey Harrison, have helped the comedian amass over 339,000 TikTok followers. (Credit: Instagram)

In quite a beautiful turn of events, one of the comedian’s most successful projects came from a desire to break free of what she was going through in her own world. Enter her social media persona: Bathurst hairdresser, Tracey Harrison.

You may know her as ‘Tracey from Tracey’s Cuts and Things’ and enjoy her “V Logs” about her journeys in Bathurst and around the world.

“After I got out of the jungle, I felt I had been on radio and the internet for a really long time and I was sick of being myself,” Hennessy admits. “I had so many failed rounds of IVF and I wanted to create a character that hadn’t gone through any of the s–t I had gone through.”

“Tracey, for example, is really body positive – Tanya is not. Tracey does not have any fertility issues. Tracey has none of the angst Tanya has and nothing really bothers her,” she explains. “I love to play her because she is not me and I am so relieved to play someone that isn’t me.”

“I am so relieved to play someone that isn’t me.” (Credit: Phillip Castleton)

Hennessy says the interest in Tracey’s clips online skyrocketed, to a point where she knew she had to turn it into a TV show.

“I wrote a pilot with a friend and we pitched it around, which took two years and huge financial investment, over $50,000,” she says of the side project. “But it’s my passion to tell stories and make people laugh.”

While Hennessy crosses her fingers and toes that the show is picked up, there is one other project she often forgets she has to work on: her upcoming wedding. “Oh yeah, that!” she cackles.

“It is last on the list of things we have to do, but we should probably get planning on that because it’s next September and at this stage it will be at Pizza Hut and I’ll pick up a dress on the way,” she laughs.

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