Abby is an absolute pleasure to be around, her laughter is infectious and she’s the type of girl who will send you home from an hour-long lunch at 6pm! Two weeks in Brisbane filling in with Stav and Labby, would really throw a spanner in the works for Abby Coleman. That’s all it took for bosses at (then B105) HIT105 to offer her a fulltime position on the breakfast shift. Abby quickly found herself relocating, while pregnant, with her first child! There has been an on air shuffle at the network since she settled in, but Abby remains an anchor of the show, and a much-loved voice in Brisbane. Her workload has extended to appearances on Network Ten’s Have You Been Paying Attention and the Nine Network’s Weekend Today. Lunch with Liz caught up with Abby at Jellyfish Restaurant in Brisbane’s CBD. *Note to reader, the food at Jellyfish is some of the best I have ever had. Please do yourself a favour – make a booking and order the Tempura Betel Leaf. Thank you to chef MiKi Damjanovic for hosting us.
WHERE WE WENT: Jellyfish Restaurant, Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane
WHAT WE ATE: Starter: Tempura Betel Leaf, spicy Fish Tartare, Finger Lime, smoked Chilly Mayo, Soy Pearls. Entre: Ocean Trout Sashimi, charred Avocado mousse, smoked Ponzu, crispy Won Ton $26.50, Prawn & Wagyu Beef Brisket, on Papaya, Spring Onion, Heirloom Tomato, Peanuts, Black Garlic, Nam Jhim $27.50 Main: Pan Roasted Duck Breast, Parsnip purée, Danish Fetta, Apple & Pinot Noir, Szeshuan Crumble. $42.50 Chilly Roasted Whole Rainbow Trout, Coconut Cream, Lime & Coriander $49.50 Dessert: Macaroon, Chocolate Ganache, Raspberry Coulis & Roasted Hazelnut Ice Cream
WHAT WE SIPPED: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc $18, Cape Mentelle Trinders Cab Merlot $17
What were your firsts thoughts when offered the opportunity from Austereo to relocate from Adelaide to Brisbane?
“I love Adelaide it’s my home town, but most people from Adelaide will tell you we all dream of getting up to Queensland. It’s like the holy grail; when you went to school and someone went on holidays it would be, ‘oh you’re going to Queensland, oh my gosh, lucky you’. When it was offered I said to my husband, “would you move away?” and he replied “no we’re having a baby” and I said “well I was still going to work after the baby” and he said “were you?” and I went “yep”. We had actually never had that conversation before! Breakfast radio was something I had always been desperate to do and I’d never been given the opportunity in Adelaide. I said to my husband “I really really want to do it” and he replied “we’ll make it work”. So I’d been nagging him to renovate the house for three years and he renovated it in one week before I moved up! We’ve never looked back. We love Queensland.”
How have the dynamics changed since Osher joined the breakfast show?
“It’s always really nice having someone new come in, because it brings a new energy to the show. It’s a completely different show, because he’s a lot more intense than Stav and I, and that’s been the best thing. Osher can be quite passionate and driven by a lot of different topics that Stav and I don’t really think about. So when someone comes in and brings a topic that makes you think ‘oh shit, I’ve never even thought about that’, it’s motivating. Stav was a little bit nervous that he may not be able to pay-him-out as such, but then when you realise how much fun Osher can have, you know you have nothing to worry about. Seeing them bounce off each other as total opposites, but yet so similar, has been quite fun. Osher has lived such a life. The people he’s met… it’s great to work with that.’
Just how do you look after a household of boys (well one man) while working such crazy hours?
“Sometimes I’ve had people contact me and they’re like ‘hi, we’re from a lifestyle magazine, we want to come over and photograph your house’, I’m like ‘yeah no, no chance’. Zero chance! It is always chaotic with two boys. I have a 4 year old and an 18 month baby. I remember buying a new couch and I put a throw over it and I made house rules, ‘no feet on the couch’, it’s now covered in food. I’m very lucky that my husband and I really do share 50/50 parenting. If I’m not home with the kids, he is, and they also go to childcare three days a week and we’ve hired a morning nanny for the other two. We do find we have the issues of single parenting, a lot of things I’ll say no to, my husband has said yes to and visa versa.”
How do you look after your health while constantly waking up so early?
“That hardest part is sleep deprivation! Every three years I find myself going on some kind of health kick! The joy of doing it on radio is that you sort of incorporate it on air, and not always deliberately. I’ve done different things over the years, I did a diet tribe, had a self-esteem team, and each time I go through this health kick process I find more wisdom comes with it. This time it started (and my husband is going to hate me for this) when we’d had a few drinks while some friends were over and later that night I said, “maybe we should try for baby number three” and he touched my belly and he said “oh babe, I wouldn’t worry about baby number three, it looks like you’re pregnant already”. I went “what the f*#k. Did you really just say that?” and he said “babeeee come on, you’ve put on a bit of weight” and my husband is never normally this kind of guy, he’s the type to always say ‘honey you look beautiful, you’re amazing’, all those little white lies. He said it and you know what, it really hurt. I’m one of those people who will still put on lip-gloss when my husband comes home from work, a bit 1950s, which is very opposite to every other aspect of my life. So the next day I signed up to a gym. Then at work I told the guys on air how I had just signed up for 24 personal training sessions and Osher was like “why is this not great?” and I explained “because I always do this, I start things and I don’t finish them” and he said “well I’ll keep you on track this time” and set me a challenge. So we threw out the normal scales and went and got a DEXA Scale and I was really shocked to find out that my visceral fat was really high – the fat around my internal organs (probably from having a bottle of wine every night), not the greatest thing. So now I set my alarm for 3am, which in my trashbag days before kids was when I was getting home and now I go into work and do a work out before I go on air. Then I also go to the gym in the afternoon. I used to work out for physic, now it’s purely for health. I want to be strong and able to pick up and play with my boys.”
What’s the best thing about motherhood?
“Your little wins. When they say something and you think ‘how kind is he’, or moments when they show how smart they are. Or when they come up, give you a hug and say ‘I love you’, they’re the wins. Not when you’re sitting behind a camera taking a photo because you think they look so gorgeous, and I’ve done that so many times, but when you’re actually looking through a photo in your mind and you just know you’re going to remember that moment. Also teaching them to be a better person and seeing them put it into play. Teaching the boys manners.”
What do you and your husband do for date nights?
“We wait for my mum to come up, bless her, she comes up three times a year for three weeks and during those times it’s like we’re single again. You know what though, on a Saturday night putting the kids to bed and then having a wine and some time together, that’s always nice. That’s our normal date night. Quality time in PJs.”
Some people might not remember this, but you were on the very first season of The Mole, which was innovative in bringing the Reality TV format to Australia, does it amaze you how successful reality TV has become?
“I was 18 when I was on The Mole. Such a long time ago! Having cameras follow you everywhere, I’d never experienced anything like that before. It was a huge wake up call for me watching it, people go on Reality TV shows and they say ‘oh it’s not the real me, they’ve edited it’, yeah it is, you said that! It’s just the editing can change how you’re perceived. When I was on The Mole, there were no second-takes, they captured it how it was, then and there. Some people come across jaded after Reality TV shows, but you’ve got to remember, for a lot of people this is the first time they’re sitting down and watching themselves! I never took up any opportunities following The Mole, in fact I kind of ran away from being associated with the show because I wanted to go to Acting School and back then actors where hating on Reality TV, as it was taking jobs away from them, but these days, gosh contestants can milk it! I mentioned it as a joke on ‘Have you been paying Attention’, ‘go on the Bachelor and you’ll get your own radio gig with Rove’, I hope Sam Frost has a sense of humor! I said to Osher, ‘hey… so I’m going to enter The Bachelor, just so I can guarantee my career, you need to think of a good headline just broke up with her husband, mother of two’ … ’’
You put so much of your life out to the public on breakfast radio, is there anything you hold back on?
“I am a very open person. What I say on radio is what I’d say to someone I met at a bus stop, ok that’s a lie I don’t catch the bus, but I really am open and fascinated by people. My favourite thing is learning listener’s stories, and hearing about their lives. If I mention something on air, I want it to be real. Some things are painful to share, but that quickly disappears when you have people coming up to you saying ‘thank you for mentioning that, I went through the same’, or ‘I feel the same’. I find that amazing. I wouldn’t say anything that my husband wouldn’t be happy with, that’s where I draw the line, but in saying that, he doesn’t give a damn! He’s so open as well! I will be more careful with the kids as they grow, but I’m very real and I do think people can sense when you’re bullshitting.”
What do you find most difficult about radio compared to TV and vise versa?
“TV definetly hair, make up and fashion! TV is all of you, you can use your facial expressions and you really have to be ‘on’, nothing is missed, as opposed to radio where it’s just your voice. Sometimes things are able to get lost in translation with radio, which can make it a little more challenging. Radio is instant, you don’t always get time to collect your thoughts and once they’re out, you can’t go back. You’re telling stories on the go. When people are sitting down watching TV it can be slightly easier to hold their attention, but with radio they’re often in the car getting from A to B, or with screaming kids, so that’s another challenge you think about.”
What’s still on your bucket list?
“Dancing with the Stars. Can someone please put me on that show? No joke. Or, as I’m a marriage celebrant, and I just love love, I want to make a reality TV show about marriage celebrants and their wedding experiences. Every bride-to-be could watch the show”.
What advice would you pass on to your 16-year-old self, wanting to get into the industry?
“Take the time to really get to know yourself before standing in front of a camera, or microphone. Insecurities are fine, we all have them, but trying so desperately to hide them once you’re in the public eye is very obvious. Also, be able to handle rejection. People see anyone in the media and they think ‘oh great, they got there, they’re so lucky’. Bullshit! The amount of rejection that you have to withstand before you get anywhere, and being able to separate it and not take it personally – I mean sometimes it is, you’re not right for the job, but it is a job that they’re casting. Get to know yourself, know how to deal with rejection, have a think why you’re doing it; if it’s fame, get out of it, it’s not worth the pain! If it’s because you love the creativity and love the story telling, then hold your head high, don’t take things personally and keep at it.”