Five Minutes with Natarsha Belling

Natarsha BellingNext week, Channel 10 will launch its all-new breakfast television line up, kicking off with Wake Up at 6.30am, hosted by James Mathison, Natasha Exelby and Natarsha “Tarsh” Belling, with Nuala Hafner presenting news from Melboure. We recently had a quick chat with Tarsh about the new job, what we can expect, and how the early-early shift works around her two boys, Harrison, seven, and Hugo, five.

How are you feeling about the launch of the new show?

I am so ridiculously excited. We’re in the midst of rehearsals right now and it’s just fabulous. There is such a great energy in our team. I hope the viewers fall in love with Wake Up as much as we already love it.

Tell us a bit about it: how will it stand out, what makes it different? What can we expect to see?

Our major points of difference are number one, our location. We have the most extraordinary set, and every single morning when that alarm goes off I think, “Wow, what am I doing?!” Then when I get to the set, it is absolutely breathtaking as you watch the sunrise over beautiful Manly beach. I think every single day I go out there, this is just picturesque. Our other big point of difference is that for the first time ever in breakfast television, we’ll be delivering local news to each market. For me, being a passionate journo for almost 20 years, delivering local news is extraordinarily important. And thirdly, when we were doing the Wake Up tour and travelling around Australia to find out what viewers wanted in breakfast tv, a key theme was they wanted something real. I’ve been a journalist and newsreader where I’ve been within the constraints of not having an opinion or real conversation. For us, it’s about having real conversations about real issues that matter most.

It is a change, going from behind the news desk to presenting a breakfast television show. Are you nervous?

I’m extraordinarily excited. My family and friends are very nervous! I’m someone who can talk underwater for seven hours. I’ve also got two boys and I’m passionate about being a hands-on mum, and this shift is one of the most family-friendly shifts you can imagine. So for me, it was as much a personal decision as it was a professional one. I’m really excited, because I think the way we deliver news and information is changing dramatically.

Wake Up is on air from 6.30am, so your day must start long before that. Will you be missing the morning routine at home?

For me, it was a clear strategy. My husband was the last to know I’d accepted the job, because he’ll have to do the crazy school run and make lunches and do drop off! But seriously, I’ve been incredibly blessed. From the time I had the boys, I’ve worked weekends. While that’s been taxing in recent months as the boys have gotten older, and they have weekend sports and things, working weekends on the national news allowed me to have the freedom to be hands-on when they started school. So I’ve had the best of both worlds. For our family, I find they’re at home for breakfast with their dad for half an hour. And I want to be able to hear about their day in the afternoon. I do find it hilarious that often men aren’t ask how their jobs suit their family life. For us, we’re both hands-on parents; it’s dual parenting and there’s a good balance.

And you know, I am a morning person. But breakfast with young kids, trying to get out the door for the school run, isn’t exactly stress-free anyway! I really struggle going to work at two or three o’clock in the afternoon, after you’ve done a full day with the kids and then have to do a day’s work, and I love being able to chill out at dinner time.  

What about your speaking roles and charity work – will you continue with commitments outside television?

I’ve stripped back some of that at the moment, I’ve been so busy launching the new show. I’m focussing on getting the show right and being a good mum. I’m quite humbled by the amount of requests I receive, but there are two or three key charities I support, because when I get on board I like to give 110 per cent. I’m an ambassador for the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation. And I will definitely keep those associations.

What’s on your breakfast menu most days?

I’m one of those crazy people that need to eat as soon as I get up. I have muesli and Sultana Bran and Special K mixed together, with yoghurt and strawberries at three-thirty in the morning. I know it’s crazy, but my brain and body doesn’t function without it. Then I’ll have raisin toast and a beautiful coffee, which is my saviour, and then fruit during the morning. You need to graze during that time because you’re up so early. Although it’s time-consuming and exhausting, I’ve been passionate about healthy food choices for the kids, and I’m starting to see the benefits as they’re recognising the difference between sometimes and all-the-time foods.

What three words best describe your family kitchen?

Crazy. Fruit (they eat a ridiculous amount of fruit!). And fun!

Wake Up airs Monday 4 November at 6.30am on Channel 10.