THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SOPHIE

Our home grown beauty talks about Love Island, heartbreak and her diverse career. Beside her great looks, wicked laugh and rapid fire comments, Sophie Monk has one even more endearing quality. Total honesty. Ask her any question about any aspect of her life and she will gladly give you her take on what was going on at that point. She seems to have reached a calmness and acceptance about the varied twists and turns that have played out over her life and career, usually in full view of the public, and is unfazed by anyone else’s view. Now as ‘Love Island’ places a ridiculously good looking assortment of hot singles, sourced from Tinder, Sophie is front and centre as the presenter deluxe of all that occurs on and off camera. She is the perfect choice to host Channel 9’s ‘Love Island’. Partially because of her well documented love life and also because she clearly remembers the first and definitely not the last time she had her heart broken. “It was in pre-school. There was a boy in my class who I really liked and I told him that. He rejected me, probably wasn’t ready for that sort of commitment,” she giggled. “Anyway the next year he came back and said he wanted to be my boyfriend but by that stage I had moved on to someone else.” She understands your pain.

Her relationships, good and bad, since she burst on to the consciousness of Australia in the pop group ‘Bardot’, give her the perfect amount of empathy and insight into what the contestants are
going through. “I understand that they are on national television and putting themselves emotionally out there so it is a situation where emotions can and do run high. On some of my stints on
reality TV, I would often cry for hours. It is an unnatural situation and you are so wrapped up in the situation that it does get to you. I understand that everyone has to chart their own path.” Would
she step in to give advice if she sees someone struggling? “Usually not. Firstly they wouldn’t listen anyway but I might hug and console them.”

Sophie came to the Gold Coast as a two year old when her family emigrated from England. Her schooling reads like a hopscotch court as she jumped from place to place attending Helensvale Primary, St Hilda’s, Somerset College, A.B. Paterson College and MacGregor State High School during her school years. “The various schools was because I always seemed to be getting into trouble. Nothing major but it was down to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and I just couldn’t focus. MacGregor High suited me the best because it had a great performance/theatrical course
which I loved. Somehow I ended up being School Captain,” she laughed. “My mother really wanted one of her children to get that badge. Someone else wrote my speech and my campaign was telling everyone that as I was singing all over the place I would be a great ambassador for the school.”

Her voice is a natural gift. “I was singing in the back seat of the car when I was seven years old and Mum thought it was the radio. She encouraged me and by the time I was eight I was singing
professionally. I’m actually quite shy but put me on stage as a child and I was right at home. There were so many classes I was doing from gymnastics and singing to acting but it burned up
energy and I kept learning.” Operatic training and performing at the Gold Coast Eisteddfod followed as she worked at following her dream of being a full-time professional singer. She
landed a job at Movie World, famously performing as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. “Show biz was always the plan and Movie World was perfect place. I loved working there and would
go back again. Wonderful people to work with and such a great way to get experience. I played different characters, did street performances or sang in front of big crowds – it was simply the best training in learning how to work an audience.”

In 1999 at the urging of her mother she answered an advertisement looking for girls who could sing and dance. It was the television show ‘Popstars’ and as we now know she was selected to appear on the show, was chosen and went on to become an integral part of the mega-group ‘Bardot’. (There was a certain irony that pout, blonde hair and figure were very similar to Brigitte Bardot.) The level of fame they achieved thanks to the TV show was astonishing. Their debut album, ‘Bardot’, and single, ‘Poison’, hit number 1 in Australia and New Zealand immediately upon release. Sadly the group broke up in 2002 and Sophie began her acting career taking a courageous leap of faith by heading to Los Angeles in 2005 landing a coveted part in ‘Date Movie’, a spoof based on
the popular rom-com format. Roles on ‘Entourage’ and other TV shows and movies followed. She also was cast in five different pilots during her L.A. stint and while none of them were picked up, they gave her invaluable experience. “My Aussie humour used to get in the way sometimes. I would be in a room filled with producers and executives and they would be praising me for this role or that. I particularly think it is a Queensland thing but in our self-deprecating way I would say, ‘Really? I didn’t think I was that good.’ I would say it as a joke but it is something no American actor would say in that situation. They thought I needed therapy and I could see them looking puzzled and doubting their decision to cast me.”

She was lured back to Australia to appear on ‘Getaway’. It was the beginning of a long association with various TV shows which in turn gave her the profile to enter the highly competitive Sydney radio market. “So many people think that they could do a radio show but it is incredibly difficult. You have to be able to speak on cue, operate to a time format, try and remember not to cross the line with your comments or humour and interact with your co-presenters. A lot of preparation goes into making it seem ‘easy’ and the good ones really earn their money,” she said.

Having been engaged multiple times, including with rock star Benji Madden, she agreed to be ‘The Bachelorette’ and was eventually paired off with Stu Landy. That relationship didn’t last but in a happy twist of fate she met her fiancé Joshua Gross on a plane after filming for ‘Love Island’ had wrapped. “I was flying in 2018 and he was sitting beside me. We spoke non-stop on that flight. He was funny and nice and when we landed I said to him, ‘We should get married.’ He laughed at me but three years later, and we were separated for a year in that time, he proposed marriage in January this year.” The plan is, at this stage, to have a low key wedding somewhere near their Central Coast home but she is not fussed about making it a big production. “I love it there. It reminds me so much of the Gold Coast and I need to be in NSW for work so I can’t take the risk with a sudden border closure.”

Like most Australians she has had to endure lockdowns but is happy to  admit that she didn’t spend her time as productively as some. “Basically I bunkered down and ordered six pizzas a day,” she laughed. “I didn’t care too much because I was happy and got on with things.” She confesses she has just discovered that one of the traits of those with ADD, especially in her case, is they like to change and jump around by trying new things. Possibly that ‘have-a-go’ attitude is what has endeared her so much to Australian audiences. “I like doing different things and don’t get too stressed if things don’t work out.” That happy persona is her natural state and is reminiscent of Goldie Hawn – bubbly and bright but with a keen and intelligent eye taking in everything that is going on around her. Underestimate her as a ditzy blonde at your peril. Having endured for so many years in the cut throat world of show business and entertainment, Sophie has many ideas about changing her focus in the coming years. While she loves being the smiling face of ‘Love Island’ she has dreams of becoming more involved behind the camera. “I would love to get into producing shows. I have a lot of ideas – a ‘Love Island Survivor’ series would be fun,” she laughed. “The difficulty here is that there are so few TV networks unlike America where there are so many choices. Even Los Angeles has a huge range of stations.”

No matter what her next career move will be she will approach it with the same attitude and work ethic she applies to everything. Be upfront, be prepared and be happy. Her upcoming wedding and a new life, being comfortable in her own skin and with those around her will keep her as the same grounded person she has always been.

(all images Channel 9 promotional images for Love Island)