Samantha Heath­wood

When hav­ing it all doesn’t mean hav­ing it at once


I am pen­ning this ar­ti­cle to de­bunk a fondly held view of those suf­fer­ing tall-poppy syn­drome.

As a jour­nal­ist my­self, I am well aware of the mis­con­cep­tion that it takes sim­ply a pretty face to read the news.

The glam­orous face of Chan­nel Nine’s re­cently an­nounced re­gional news push for Queens­land, jour­nal­ist Samantha Heath­wood, is a fa­mil­iar face for Toowoomba res­i­dents thanks to her time as a WIN News re­porter in the city.

Her fam­ily moved to the Gar­den City when Samantha was one year old.

Ed­u­cated at Fairholme and the Glen­nie School, Samantha is now based in Bris­bane but reg­u­larly re­turns for events and to spend time with friends.

“Toowoomba is an amaz­ing place – it’s so close-knit,” she says.

“You of­ten meet two or three gen­er­a­tions of the same fam­ily. There’s a real fam­ily feel, life is easy and it takes 15 min­utes to get any­where.”

And far from be­moan­ing the foggy moun­tain­top weather, Samantha views it as a uni­fy­ing fac­tor.

“Be­cause it’s colder it breeds a fam­ily feel­ing – peo­ple do more in­door ac­tiv­i­ties at each other’s homes and spend time at friends’ houses.”

When we met on a cold Toowoomba morn­ing to share a cuppa, it was easy to see why she be­came a quickly ris­ing star.

Though Samantha un­doubt­edly has the X-fac­tor a suc­cess­ful news an­chor needs, for me it was her work ethic, con­duct and knowl­edge that hit home.

She is set to re­turn to our screens from Au­gust 14, re­cently snag­ging the pres­ti­gious an­chor role for Queens­land re­gional bul­letins with Chan­nel Nine.

To be based in Bris­bane, Samantha was re­cently named as one of three Chan­nel Nine re­gional news pre­sen­ters and will present six re­gional bul­letins.

This in­cludes Nine’s Toowoomba and Dar­ling Downs bul­letin, a ter­ri­tory she knows well.

The Heath­wood fam­ily has en­joyed a long as­so­ci­a­tion with Toowoomba.

Samantha’s grand­fa­ther ran the iconic Heath­wood Phar­macy on the cor­ner of Ruthven and Mar­garet Sts years ago, and her sis­ter more re­cently owned a shoe shop in Mar­garet St.

And while her fam­ily has since re­lo­cated to Bris­bane, Samantha holds her home­town in a very dear place.

A look over her CV shows she’s done the hard yards to get where she is to­day, and it should be noted she is jug­gling moth­er­hood along the way.

Her path to suc­cess be­gan with humble steps in her home town of Toowoomba… work­ing for free. For a whole year. “Work­ing for free doesn’t mean you’re not get­ting any­thing out of it,” Samantha says. “No­body is bet­ter than a job.”

Her work ethic and de­ter­mi­na­tion were no­ticed, with Samantha snag­ging

‘‘ I love catch­ing up with friends for lunch at Gip’s and I al­ways make ev­ery­one come to the Car­ni­val of Flow­ers and the Food and Wine Fes­ti­val.

‘‘ You can have a great life and tick all the boxes but you also need to tick hap­pi­ness.

her first job with WIN News Rock­hamp­ton.

She’s since chalked up eight years of re­gional re­port­ing, as well as a gig in Syd­ney, be­fore mov­ing back to Toowoomba to take a year off with her sec­ond child.

Mother to two young boys, James, 6, and Henry, 3, Samantha has a mes­sage for other par­ents.

“Since Syd­ney, I’ve been in a no-man’s land work-wise while I took time off to be with my boys,” Samantha says.

“And I guess there was some fear of com­ing back into the game and feel­ing like I’d been away for too long. But I re­mem­ber some­one say­ing to me ‘the cream will al­ways rise to the top’ – meaning if you have the skills and drive, then you have ev­ery chance to get that great job.”

Samantha says par­ents re­turn­ing to the work­force after tak­ing years off to raise chil­dren shouldn’t be “frozen out” by their own men­tal bar­ri­ers.

“Ev­ery­one’s ca­reers wax and wane, and I want to pro­vide hope for other peo­ple who’ve taken time out, have put ev­ery­thing into their kids for the last five or six years,” she says.

“It’s scary com­ing back into the work­force, but it’s not as daunt­ing as you might think.”

Samantha says her mum spent three months in Syd­ney help­ing her with son James. Samantha would be­gin work at 2am to write and then present Nine’s early morn­ing bul­letin at 5am, be­fore go­ing on to write the news bul­letin for The To­day Show.

And while her ca­reer is some­thing she is pas­sion­ate about, she stresses not to get lost in “try­ing to have ev­ery­thing”.

“Don’t forgo fam­ily things or things with friends for the sake of your ca­reer,” Samantha ad­vises.

“They’re things you re­gret down the track – miss­ing spe­cial oc­ca­sions with your fam­ily.”

When Samantha re­turned to Bris­bane after her mar­riage break-up, she made the de­ci­sion to work just two days per week, to en­sure she was spend­ing qual­ity time with her young sons.

“I started back from scratch and even­tu­ally got three days a week per­ma­nent part-time, and then this job (an­chor for Nine’s Queens­land re­gional news) came up two years later.”

It’s a work-life bal­ance that she ad­mits, while dif­fi­cult, is im­por­tant.

“You can have a great life and tick all the boxes – ca­reer, fam­ily, house – but you also need to tick hap­pi­ness,” Samantha says.


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