Becoming a Sports Presenter: Q&A with Erin Molan
Erin Molan has become a household name for many Australians, appearing on TV screens around the country for over 12 years. The Canberra born TV presenter is well known for her roles on the Sunday Footy Show and the NRL Footy Show, but sports presenting wasn’t always a goal of Erin’s.
After enrolling in Uni six times, in six different courses, dropping out each time, Erin’s incredible achievements in her career so far can only be credited to her determination, hard work and reliability.
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Q: Was it always your dream to have a career in sports journalism?
I always wanted a career in journalism, not necessarily sport. I loved sport growing up and I did gymnastics, netball and volleyball and always had a real passion for sport, but I really loved politics and international affairs and I thought I might head more towards being a foreign correspondent rather than a sports presenter.
I enrolled in Uni six times in six different courses and dropped out each time. I just had no real dedication or commitment, I guess I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Then I saw an ad in the paper for TV presenters and I thought I’ll go along and try it, and I was absolutely horrendous. I kept sending the boss emails, every week I’d send him the same one saying please give me a shot. Finally, after about six months he rang me and said if I give you a shot will you leave me the bloody hell alone, and that’s actually how I got my first start. From that moment on I became incredibly dedicated to it, it became all I wanted to do, and all the laziness that I had at Uni and the lack of commitment all seemed to go away.
Q: I understand you started your career in Canberra, and then moved to Sydney, was that a difficult decision to make?
It was very difficult to move from Canberra to Sydney, but also the easiest thing ever because it’s what I’d been trying to do for the better part of five or six years. Since I got my first job in a little community TV station, then to WIN TV first in Canberra, then Wagga Wagga, then Wollongong; I went all over New South Wales, and when you’re regional, all you want to do is go to the big city and get a job in a National newsroom, and Channel Nine in Sydney was always the number one. So after many years of applying to different networks, most of them never getting back to me, after almost 100 rejection letters I got a phone call from the boss of Nine News in Sydney offering me a job in sport, so that was really exciting.
Q: I’m interested to hear about your various roles and how you continue to land these incredible opportunities.
I got my first out on the Sunday Footy Show and sort of worked my way up to be the host, which is really, really special and I love hosting that. It’s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of years but it’s a great show.
But after about a year or two of the Sunday Footy Show, I got my shot on the Thursday Night Footy Show. I used to watch that growing up so that was really exciting, and I guess it was a real career highlight, my first night on that show. I was on that for seven or eight years, I started out just doing injury reports, and then I became a full-time panellist, then a fulltime co-host, and then for its last year, which really wasn’t the Footy Show but more of a post-match show I hosted it. But it was amazing, and I had some of the best years of my career on that show, so much fun with some of the best people I’ll ever work with. Fatty, the Big Marn and Beau Ryan became really close friends of mine and were really supportive of me and it was absolutely amazing and a lot of fun.
The Rookie was fantastic, it was my first kind of foray into reality TV which was really cool. It gave me a great understanding of what goes on behind the scenes and how many times you have to do things and just how bloody exhausting the whole process was. I got to work with Freddie on that and it was just so good. I was doing very long days, I’d be starting in the newsroom at 8am, and then I’d go to the Footy Show until midnight and then I’d go from midnight until 5am filming for the Rookie. We used to film overnight because that’s the only time we could use the Sydney Football Stadium field, so it was bloody intense and tiring and hard work, but I’ve never shied away from hard work and it was really rewarding.
And I work for Nine News obviously, I sit on the desk, I started out as a producer, then became a reporter, I’ve presented on the Today Show many times as well and had lots of different opportunities. I hosted 20 to one which is the entertainment countdown show, so it’s been great to do things apart from sport as well.
I’ve been really lucky to have such a great diverse portfolio of work that I’ve done at Channel Nine and on the radio as well. How do I continue to land these incredible opportunities; I earn them. I work incredibly, incredibly hard and you know I’m capable I guess, and people here see that I’m capable and give me opportunities.
You don’t get opportunities unless you deserve them and unless people think you’re the right person for that position. And there’s a lot of incredible people who work really hard and don’t get those opportunities, but when you do you’ve got to take them. And a lot of opportunities I’ve had, have been because other people haven’t been available. They tried other people first who have either said no or couldn’t do it for whatever reason. I don’t care I’m the 10th person they ask, I will do the best possible job and prove to them why they should’ve asked me first.
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Q: You have achieved so much and taken on so many different roles, what would you say you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud of surviving in this industry, I think. It’s a really tough industry, it can be incredibly brutal. It’s amazingly rewarding, but it is really tough, and there’s a lot of elements to it that are really difficult, and very public and that can be quite humiliating. You don’t get much of a private life, and there are things written about you constantly that aren’t true. There’s a lot of things that make it really difficult and I think learning to cope with that side of it has been something that I’m very proud of. It used to really get to me, and it doesn’t so much anymore, I have a lot of perspective now and I’m very blessed to do this job, so I’m proud of the attitude that I now have towards the stuff that I used to find a little bit difficult.
Q: When you started out, did you have a goal, and did you ever think you would achieve what you have done so far?
I’ve always set my standards and goals really, really high and I still do which annoys me sometimes, because sometimes I wish I could just be happy with where I am and enjoy the success if you could call it that. But I’m always thinking about what next and what can I do better and what can I improve on and all that kind of stuff. But oh look, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be where I am today. Um, yeah, I don’t look back on it enough and I should sometimes reflect on it because there are so many highs and so many lows, you can sometimes get caught on the lows. But um, it’s certainly where I wanted to be, but I never had much confidence that I would really get here. I knew I’d never give up trying but I didn’t know whether or not I’d get here.
Q: You are part of so many different productions, all whilst becoming a mum and managing your charity work, how do you have the time?!
Yeah, I do a lot of charity work which I’m incredibly passionate about. I think one of the most important things about what I do is using the profile that I’ve been lucky enough to have through my work and through my jobs to raise awareness for charities.
Bowel cancer is a really special one, my sister was diagnosed only 27 years old so we made a pact that we would do everything we could to raise as much awareness and try and save as many people’s lives as possible. I work with Save Our Sons and Ronald McDonald House, I work with Tresillian, uh so many different charities that are all so incredible and deserving.
I probably take on too much and that’s always been an issue for me, I’m not good at saying no. But you know what, I’m happy to be tired at the end of the day if I’ve had to go and do a function at night or something because it’s just such worthy work.
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Q: Prior to becoming a mum, was your career always your priority? How did that change when you had Eliza and has it changed again since?
My career was always a priority before becoming a mum, it was really the only thing I cared about for the better part of a decade. I never took holidays because I didn’t want to be away if there was an opportunity, or I didn’t want someone else to take my place if I went away, so I think almost the first10 years that I was at Channel Nine I didn’t take a holiday. I just worked my butt off so now I feel a little bit more relaxed in taking holidays but yeah career has always been number one.
But now Eliza is absolutely number one, my family is number one but my career is still very important to me and I think I’m very blessed to be able to do my job and be a mum. I feel like I’m almost a full-time mum and a full-time worker because a lot of my prep I can do during the day with Eliza and a lot of my work I do at night, so I’m lucky that when I’m away from her she’s asleep, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on too much which is nice.
But yeah she is my most important job in the world, and nothing will ever come before her. Everything I do when it comes to work is for her, but if she needs me or if it’s a choice between her needing comfort or needing me or work, I’ll always choose her. I’m very lucky I’ve got a very supportive partner, he’s a very good dad which definitely helps but yeah, the juggle is very hard. At the moment it’s much easier because I’m home a lot and not travelling so that’s fantastic, I’m really enjoying just being a mum most of the time.
Q: I imagine your work has changed quite a bit with the Coronavirus, especially with no sport being played. How difficult has it been for you in relation to all of your current roles?
Um yeah, my current roles are very different; obviously there’s no Friday night footy but news has still been good. I kept thinking we would only last week with sports news but there’s been so much sports news. With all the different codes trying to get back on track and with some silly footballers doing silly things, always gives us something to talk about, and we’re back in a few weeks now which is great. The Sunday Footy show has been really different as well, but we’ve still had heaps to talk about, and there’s still been a lot of players that we can catch up with, we just have to do things differently.
Q: What is your opinion on the NRL trying to get up and running by May 28?
I think the NRL, it’s great what they’re doing and trying to get the code back up and now having it back up May 28, I totally understand other people in different industries might look at that and think well why is my industry less worthy than the NRL? I employ people who are just as deserving of an income and a job why does the NRL get special treatment? But they’re investing a lot of money into this, they’re putting a lot into getting things ticked off and I think by the time the NRL comes back, a lot of the other restrictions will have been eased, so a lot of other businesses will be allowed to get back to some kind of normality. Not what they were before but they will be able to be doing a lot more things than they are now. I think over the next few weeks it’ll be a different Australia to the one we’ve got at the moment.
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Q: Do you have any advice or anything else you’d like to say?
I guess just to end with, I think if there’s one lesson to learn out of my journey, and I certainly hope it’s not even halfway yet, but it’s about being resilient. Being resilient to outside pressures, to outside influences and people who don’t believe in you or publicly smash you and troll you. I think you have to be resilient and be able to overcome rejection and not take rejection personally. I’ve been rejected so many times in my career as I said, even before I got my first start I was rejected nearly 100 times by networks all over Australia and the world, and since starting my career and Channel Nine I’ve been rejected and million times in a million different ways as well. And I think, to be able to come back from rejection, not take it too personally, and grow from it is such an important attribute for young people.
I think it’s really, it’s the key to having success, and once you learn that it is such a normal part of your career, to realise it actually happens to everyone and that this is just part of life and it’s not the end of anything, was a really important lesson for me to learn. And yeah, to take positives out of rejection, even though it does absolutely hurt I think are really crucial things that have always kept me in good stead. And just to be surrounded by amazing people who support you, when you need a bit of reassurance or when you see something nasty written and you know you’ve got people that you can call and people who can reassure you I think is also really important.