Back to her roots
Former Biggest Loser contestant Fiona Falkiner tells SHANNON MOLLOY how a last-minute decision changed her life
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
“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.