Back to her roots

For­mer Big­gest Loser con­tes­tant Fiona Falkiner tells SHAN­NON MOL­LOY how a last-minute de­ci­sion changed her life

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

ONE week she’s fronting a fash­ion cam­paign in Lon­don, the next Fiona Falkiner is stop­ping in Dubai for a quick photo shoot on her way home to New York for more meet­ings.

As an in-de­mand in­ter­na­tional model, the 31-year-old is on top of the world and about to add “tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter” to her re­sume. Things al­most turned out very dif­fer­ently.

If not for a snap de­ci­sion a decade ago, Falkiner would prob­a­bly still be work­ing in re­tail in the sub­urbs and bat­tling a rapidly wors­en­ing weight prob­lem.

“It’s like com­ing full cir­cle,” Falkiner says of host­ing the new sea­son of

TBLFam­i­lies.

“What a jour­ney. The girl I once was never could’ve imag­ined be­ing an in­ter­na­tional model and now a tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter.”

Be­fore sign­ing up for the very first sea­son of the Net­work Ten se­ries in 2006, Falkiner was a painfully shy and se­ri­ously over­weight univer­sity stu­dent who didn’t ex­pect much for her fu­ture.

“I watched that se­ries back re­cently for the first time,” she says.

“It was so con­fronting to see my old self. I was so neg­a­tive and had no self-con­fi­dence, no belief in my abil­ity to do any­thing. I wanted to reach through the tele­vi­sion and shake her, and tell her to pull her fin­ger out, that life is wait­ing.”

Falkiner re­veals she al­most didn’t ap­ply for the show, af­ter down­load­ing the forms but get­ting cold feet at the last minute. A house­mate en­cour­aged her to give it a go.

“If I hadn’t done it, my weight would’ve con­tin­ued to climb and I’d still be un­happy and un­healthy.”

Af­ter a few gru­elling months, Falkiner lost 30kg and fin­ished fourth. She came out of the ex­pe­ri­ence a new woman but she had no clue what to do next.

There was a stint on

Danc­ingWithTheS­tars but she was elim­i­nated in week one. Falkiner then worked briefly in public re­la­tions, fol­lowed by a few odd gigs in tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion.

While study­ing to be a make-up artist, she some­how fell into mod­el­ling and within months had a full sched­ule of jobs. It wasn’t long un­til she went global.

“Even­tu­ally I moved to Lon­don and found my­self an agent and did quite well,” Falkiner re­calls. “Then New York kind of hap­pened. It was meant to be a three-week trip but then it be­came months and months, so I stayed.”

Last year, while back in Syd­ney for work, a pro­ducer phoned to sound her out for the TBLFam­i­lies host­ing role.

“I’ve never pre­sented be­fore and have zero tele­vi­sion ex­pe­ri­ence, apart from be­ing a re­al­ity con­tes­tant, so I didn’t think I could do it.

“But I re­alised that my whole life has been thanks to giv­ing stuff a go – just try­ing my best at what­ever comes my way. So I gave it a go.”

It was a steep learn­ing curve, she says. But the train­ers – Michelle Bridges, Steve “Com­mando” Wil­lis, Shan­nan Pon­ton and Tiffiny Hall – helped her through.

“Ev­ery­one on the show was so wel­com­ing and en­cour­ag­ing,” she says. “The train­ers helped me a lot.”

As some­one who’s been there, Falkiner says she was able to give the cur­rent crop of con­tes­tants in­sight into the long road that awaits them af­ter TBLFam­i­lies.

“The hard­est part be­gins when the show ends, for sure. But these guys can do it. The con­tes­tants are so great and they’ll in­spire so many peo­ple.”

Show com­mit­ments means she now bounces be­tween New York, Lon­don and Syd­ney, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

And be­sides, Falkiner was be­gin­ning to yearn for Aus­tralia.

“I got my­self a place in Syd­ney so it’ll kind of be my base for a while. I’ll go where the work is but it’ll be nice to have a place to come back to. I’ve been a no­mad for so long.”

New begin­nings: Fiona Falkiner, cen­tre, says TBLFam­i­lies’ train­ers (from left) Shan­nan Pon­ton, Michelle Bridges, Tiffiny Hall and Steve “Com­mando” Wil­lis helped guide her through her new host­ing du­ties.

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