“I WAS MORTIFIED”

THE NO­TO­RI­OUS EMER­GENCE OF LEAKED FOOTAGE AT THE BE­GIN­NING OF THE YEAR SAW AM­BER SHER­LOCK JOIN THE RANKS OF THOSE WHOSE LIVES GO FROM NOR­MAL TO AB­NOR­MAL IN AN IN­STANT. BUT WHO IS THE REAL WOMAN BE­HIND THE GLOBAL HEAD­LINES, CHAT-SHOW PUNCH­LINES AND SO­CIAL-

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy TIM HUNTER Styling MA­RINA AFONINA Words JOR­DAN BAKER

TV jour­nal­ist Am­ber Sher­lock opens up to Stel­lar about how she coped af­ter a terse on-cam­era ex­change with a col­league turned her into a vi­ral vil­lain.

The day that jour­nal­ist Am­ber Sher­lock’s world up­ended be­gan like any other. She cleaned up the af­ter­math of her two-year-old’s break­fast. She changed nap­pies, tripped over toys, and ca­joled lit­tle arms into lit­tle T-shirts. Then she kissed two lit­tle fore­heads and went to work. As she mon­i­tored sto­ries and read scripts, a col­league came over and said, “Hey, I have just seen this pop up.”

“This” was a video on me­dia site Mum­brella show­ing Sher­lock hav­ing a terse off-air ex­change with reporter Julie Snook, in which she com­manded a de­fen­sive Snook to fetch a jacket be­cause they were both wear­ing white. As Sher­lock watched it for the first time, her heart in her mouth, the leaked footage was al­ready go­ing vi­ral.

The 41-year-old ar­rived at work an af­ter­noon news pre­sen­ter, and left an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion. “It was quite phe­nom­e­nal, it re­ally was the eye of the me­dia storm,” she tells Stel­lar.

For five days, Jacket-gate, as it was dubbed, was the talk of Aus­tralia. It crossed bor­ders and date­lines, even bob­bing up on co­me­dian Jimmy Kim­mel’s late night chat show in the US, which is watched by around 2.4 mil­lion peo­ple. Col­umns were devoted to raking over the nu­ances of Sher­lock’s be­hav­iour. Trolls swarmed. Talk­back call­ers put in their two cents. Sher­lock had joined a small and un­en­vi­able club: she had be­come a vi­ral vil­lain.

“One mo­ment I am just do­ing my job, and the next I am in ev­ery news­pa­per, on ev­ery so­cial out­let,” says Sher­lock, who has not spo­ken about the in­ci­dent un­til now. “It felt al­most sur­real.

“At first I thought, how silly. But when it re­ally es­ca­lated, and I was trolled on so­cial me­dia, it re­ally started to get nasty. I was ab­so­lutely mortified, and, of course, hurt. I think I’m a kind, gen­er­ous per­son. I am a mum, I have a fam­ily. And I was dev­as­tated. I am only hu­man at the end of the day, and I think peo­ple for­get that.”

WED­NES­DAY, JAN­UARY 11 was an in­suf­fer­ably hot day in Sher­lock’s home­town of Syd­ney. The mum of two took her kids to the beach that morn­ing, but ad­mits it was a bad idea. “The heat was get­ting to us, we were all hot and both­ered,” she says. They went home, and Sher­lock left her chil­dren Piper, six, and Zac, two, with her par­ents when she went to work, which, for the past nine years, has been as a jour­nal­ist for the Nine Net­work.

She gets to work at 11.30am, fronts Nine News Now at 3pm, then presents the weather on Syd­ney’s Nine News bul­letin at 6pm. Sher­lock loves spend­ing the morn­ings with her kids, but they don’t al­ways run smoothly.

“Like any mum, I am some­times tired or have a bad day, but I try to leave it be­hind,” she says. “We did the show that day, the in­ci­dent hap­pened, and then I went on and did my weather that night and went home.”

The “in­ci­dent”, cap­tured in the now-fa­mous leaked video, was sparked by an un­happy co­in­ci­dence; Sher­lock, Snook and guest psy­chol­o­gist Sandy Rea all fronted a three-woman panel dressed in what ap­peared to be white. Off-air, but on-cam­era, Sher­lock told Snook to get a jacket. Snook said she’d been too busy, and sug­gested that rather than fetch one, she should not ap­pear on the panel at all. There was a terse stand-off be­fore the cam­eras went live and all three women slapped on a smile.

Viewer con­sen­sus was the video showed Sher­lock in a bad light. “Some­one who works be­hind the cam­era at Ch 9 hates Am­ber Sher­lock,” wrote a Twit­ter user. “Pro­duc­ers of #Imacelebrityau, you can’t, you mustn’t, go past Am­ber Sher­lock… She mean,” wrote an­other.

In hind­sight, Sher­lock ad­mits she could have han­dled the sit­u­a­tion bet­ter. “I am the first to put up my hand and say that for what­ever rea­son – I was stressed, I was tired, I pos­si­bly over­re­acted, there are bet­ter ways to deal with it.”

“It was a live-tv en­vi­ron­ment. Things aren’t al­ways per­fect. You don’t have time to have a cup of tea and talk some­thing through, you just don’t have that lux­ury. What’s done is done. Julie was fine with it, I was fine with it. Ev­ery­one has their opin­ions, but if you look at the tape, I feel ev­ery­one mas­sively over­re­acted. It was two fe­male col­leagues talk­ing in an abrupt way be­cause we were on dead­lines.

“There was no hid­den agenda, there was no back story, it was what it was.”

Sher­lock says she and Snook put the in­ci­dent be­hind them straight away. Nei­ther had any in­kling of the storm to come. Even when her col­league alerted her to it on­line, Sher­lock didn’t think it was a big deal.

“Peo­ple love wa­ter-cooler stuff,” she says. “[I thought] ‘Some­one has posted it on there for a laugh.’ Hon­estly, I thought that was it. Julie thought that was it. We had a laugh about it.”

A few hours later, it wasn’t so funny. Jour­nal­ists be­gan call­ing Sher­lock, ask­ing for com­ment. Her name was trend­ing on Twit­ter. The Nine Net­work’s pub­lic­ity de­part­ment stepped in, and Sher­lock called her hus­band, Chris, who was at the hard­ware shop. “I said, ‘I think we could be in for an in­ter­est­ing few days,’” she says. “He will never for­get that.”

Chris Sher­lock was wor­ried for his wife. “When you look back on it now, no one re­ally knew where it was go­ing to go,” he tells Stel­lar. “It was one of those things that evolves as the hours go by. What I kept try­ing to say is, like any news story, it will pass. The thing for me was to make sure I was there to talk her through. As hor­ri­ble as it was, there were two young kids run­ning to the front door when Am­ber got home – we had to try to keep it real.”

“For me, be­ing a mum put it into per­spec­tive more than if I hadn’t been,” Sher­lock says. “Be­fore you are a mum you are work­ing, and your ca­reer is ev­ery­thing. When you have chil­dren, [you re­alise] it is very im­por­tant, it gives you a lot of sat­is­fac­tion in life… but it isn’t ev­ery­thing.”

“I WAS AB­SO­LUTELY MORTIFIED AND HURT... I AM ONLY HU­MAN AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND PEO­PLE FOR­GET THAT”

AM­BER WEARS Dion Lee dress, dion­lee.com; Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo ear­rings (worn through­out), fer­rag­amo.com; her own rings (worn through­out)

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