While the show proved to be Monk’s lucky charm in finding true love, with the star and her robotics engineer beau tying the knot in March 2022, her quest to help others find their happily ever after is what’s kept her going back to host season after season.
“I think I’ve just got so much empathy for the contestants because they actually are looking for love,” she tells.
“I watch their casting tapes and it’s incredible, they find the ones that are genuine. So for me, I feel when they’re hurt. When they cry, I wanna cry, and I’m like, ‘Don’t, you’ll look like an idiot!’ … I’m almost protective of them.”
Having had her own turn at finding love on a dating show as The Bachelorette in 2017, Monk is well aware of the positives and pitfalls that come with reality romances.
“It’s a pretty vulnerable position to be in,” she explains. “I sometimes forget how full on it is … it’s so much more intense than people realise.”
She’s also secretly a sucker for reality television. “I’m obsessed with Married at First Sight,” Monk confesses. “Love Island’s like a sweeter MAFS, I would say … I think a lot of people get turned off by the bikinis and you shouldn’t, it’s not about that at all."
“Once you go past the fact that they’re wearing bathers because they’re on holidays, it’s just quite primal. And you can relate to different people in the show. I relate to contestants all the time where I’m like, ‘I’ve done that!’”
It’s a guilty pleasure she appears to share with her husband. While filming the upcoming Season 5 of Love Island Australia in Mallorca, Spain – where she was joined by Gross – Monk admits that the pair didn’t exactly make the most of their downtime together.
“We were so invested in the show, on our days off we were arguing about who was going to get with who,” she laughs. “It’s like watching MAFS and going on a holiday. So that’s what we did while we were there."
“I think it’s the unpredictability. Like I could not predict what was happening and usually I can!” Monk says of what kept them hooked. “I’m like, ‘OK, they’re gonna end up together.’ But I was like, ‘What is happening?’ There’s a lot of times I was thrown … We also throw them a lot of curveballs. But I feel like it’s like real life. You could walk into a bar and see your ex in the real world, so we put them in scenarios where it’s pretty true to life and a real test, and see if they can handle it.”
Reality TV has long been a part of Monk’s life. At 19, her mum encouraged her to try out for Australia’s very first foray into the genre with Popstars – which saw Monk plonked straight into the spotlight when she and her four other bandmates were grouped together to form Bardot. A solo singing career soon followed, with a sidestep into acting in 2004.
And although the following decade was spent in Hollywood and saw Monk add a series of bit parts and film flops to her résumé, the star knows where her strengths lie. “I’m never gonna be a serious actress, that’s for sure,” she jokes. “Comedy is it for me or something light-hearted. I think I just like making people happy and laugh.”
Laughter seems to follow Monk everywhere she goes. After arriving back in Oz and back on the box as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice Australia and as a judge on Australia’s Got Talent, she continued to leave audiences in stitches with her sense of humour. But it’s as a host, first with Love Island and then with Beauty and the Geek Australia, that Monk seems to have found her true calling – whether she agrees or not.
“I’m not sure I’m a great host but I do care about [the contestants] a lot,” she says. “I’ve got my own way of hosting. Like I don’t walk in and [angrily] go, ‘You’re going home!’ I’m very like, ‘I’m so sorry to say going home.’”
Her trademark blonde bombshell looks have also been a mainstay throughout her career, but Monk is quick to play them down, insisting a lot goes into getting her camera ready.
“How I walk in and how I walk out should be illegal … I walk in with like half a head of hair, slippers, rough as guts and then I’m lucky, I get a team to style me,” she laughs. “Then I go out and host, so it’s pretty fun for me. I’ve got to say I’m very lucky, I’ve worked very hard, but finally I’ve got the ultimate job.”
While she has continued to dabble in acting, filming alongside Vanilla Ice earlier this year in the soon-to-be-released movie Zombie Plane, Monk is content with her career.
“I used to think I wanted to try stunts, like Tom Cruise. Now? Nope!” the star jokes. “There’s not much else I’d like to do, I guess I’d like to keep jumping. Like I love radio, I love TV, I love movies, I love singing. All of it is just part of entertainment. And that’s all I know!”
She also enjoys dropping in and out of “celeb-land” as she pleases. “I just want to keep under the radar a little bit,” she says. “I don’t want to win any awards … I’m not out for a Logie. I’m just happy doing what I’m doing.”
The same seems to go for her personal life. Having shared her desire to start a family with Gross some years ago, fans are still understandably curious. Last year, she told WHO that the pair were “definitely trying”. “We are working towards that and if it happens it would be incredible, but if it doesn’t then that’s just not meant to be,” she explained at the time.
This year she’s been more tight-lipped on the subject, but a recent ambassadorship with Yellow Tail wines suggests it’s been taken off the agenda – at least for now. “I’m going to be drinking that quite a bit now,” she says of the gig.
As someone who clearly values the quiet life over fame, Monk admits she’s simply looking forward to finishing up the year with her man by her side, a beverage in hand and one of her guilty pleasures on the TV.
“That’s my favourite thing to do is just have a glass of wine and watch reality and that’s it really,” she adds. “I’m so boring! It’s the best.”