A weekly Q&A with interesting people in the Australian Media Industry
Tim Dormer
  • Name Tim Dormer
  • Position TV & Radio Presenter, Reality TV Contestant
  • Interviewed by Social Diary on 7/1/2016
  • Q
    Describe your career path to date?
    A
    What a lot of people don't realise is that I'd been working in media for over a decade before I became a household name through reality TV. Way back in 2002 straight out of high school I was paying my way through a science degree at uni while acting in the odd TV commercial role on the side. I was a red-headed, pimply faced 17 year old with big dreams to work in TV who had no idea of the long road ahead. There's actually some pretty cringe-worthy early head-shots and videos out there if you know where to search on google! After years of studying acting and TV presenting I landed my first radio gig in Sydney as part of Nova's promotions street team in 2006. It was the very bottom of the radio ladder but I slowly climbed my way up to my first major on-air role in 2010, hosting the national nightly radio countdown show The Hit List, on Southern Cross Media's regional network and presented a weekend music TV show on Southern Cross Ten. I interviewed some of the biggest names in the business; Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and my personal idol Russell Brand (who was actually my first ever celebrity interview, talk about being thrown in the deep end!).

    In 2012 I moved on from regional radio back to capital city this time radio announcing at Nova in Sydney where I made international headlines after running nude on a Rihanna tour plane. The stunt caught the attention of Big Brother producers who had earlier turned me down as a contestant for the series return to Channel 9 in 2012, but cast me as a housemate the following year. I actually never entered the show to win it, I was really just tired of being turned down for TV presenting roles because I wasn't a 'household name'. Big Brother was a risk I was willing to take, and it definitely paid off! In 2014 I presented for Channel 9's TODAY show and Getaway, and was a regular on KIISFM with The Kyle and Jackie O show. Last year I started developing my own ideas for TV, co-producing and staring in The Graceland Happiness Project which aired on the ABC. Placing runner up in last year's Celebrity Apprentice proved I still had the knack for reality TV, my secret really is the experience and resilience I have gained from over a decade of dedication to working in the media industry. I know where I want to be and I'm excited to see what 2016 brings!
  • Q
    What do you love about what you do?
    A
    It's rare for someone to create a sustainable career out of a reality tv experience, and let me tell you it hasn't been easy! I've worked really hard to build a recognisable brand, and luckily social media has given me a large audience of followers, opening the door to commercial opportunities. My job is not normal, having no routine or job-security would probably scare most people but I see it as an exciting freedom. Yes the perks of the gig are great, but what I really love is being able to chase what I'm passionate about and share some amazing experiences with a community of fans who are along for the ride with me.
  • Q
    And what's not so great?
    A
    Trying to explain to my concerned 95 year old grandmother what a promoted Instagram post is, and that I do actually have a job...it's just doing something she probably wouldn't be able to explain to her friends at bingo.
  • Q
    Describe your typical day?
    A
    There is no such thing as a typical day in my world. I'm lucky to live on Bondi Beach so most mornings start with me walking my charismatic french bulldog Meatloaf with a coffee along the promenade before sitting down to go through emails and plan my day. I'm in constant communication with my management as well as interacting with fans on social media so I'm on my computer a lot. I'm also working on developing my own TV ideas, so there's always writing and creative planning to be done. Some days I might have a TV or radio appearance, but most of my time would go into managing my social media channels, which actually takes a bit of effort! The hardest part is trying to rope in a willing friend to act as photographer (selfie sticks are so last year!) but I usually pay them back with invites to be my plus 1 to red carpet events. I'm lucky to travel a lot too...wow, in answering this question I'm beginning to realise I do have a pretty sweet gig!
  • Q
    What does being a Reality Star mean to you?
    A
    I think life after reality TV is pretty tough for anyone to deal with. You go from being anonymous to relative infamy overnight. For a short window of time you are hot property, receiving invites to VIP red carpet events, job offers and commercial opportunities from brands wanting to leverage off newly exploded social media audiences you have attracted...It's no wonder why you start to believe you have the world at your feet! Then just as quickly as it was given to you, the dust settles and you're no longer the person everyone is talking about and the re-adjustment back into 'normal' life after the ride you've just been on is extremely difficult. I can't tell you how many reality TV stars I know who haven't dealt well with their journey through their 15 minutes of fame. I'm lucky I went into it with the media experience I had, which allowed me to navigate the beast successfully and still be earning a living in the industry today. For me it's about not buying into any of the hype, I'm not chasing the things that fame brings, I'm in the industry because I love entertaining. I think reality tv makes you famous for nothing, what you do after that fame proves whether you have actual talent and longevity.
  • Q
    What is the best experience you've had in your career?
    A
    Growing up I was obsessed with anything wild, so Steve Irwin was my idol. Following Big Brother, I was able to meet his family and become a part of his continuing legacy of conservation as a wildlife warrior ambassador! I was actually lucky enough to go away with the Irwin's on a trip to the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Cape York to go croc jumping as part of an ongoing research program started by Steve. I'll never forget the moment Terri had me sexing my first crocodile...you don't want to know where I had to stick my finger!
  • Q
    What is it like being a Reality Star?
    A
    Big Brother is a crazy experience to be a part of, for 101 days Australia watched me in their lounge rooms each night while I ate, slept, showered, laughed and cried. They went on the whole journey with me and saw me at my most vulnerable, because of that closeness a lot of people now relate to me as part of their family. It's surreal but always really special when a total stranger stops me in the street to say g'day like an old friend would, although you never know where someone is going to recognise you...I've even been asked for a selfie while standing at the urinal! I'm really lucky that audiences connected quite positively with my reality tv persona, because everyone has their opinion of you! At the end of the day, the only opinion that really matters is that of those who actually know you, you're friends and family... and I'm very blessed to have a supportive bunch around me who keep me grounded.
  • Q
    How would you say this has impacted you as a Presenter?
    A
    Reality stars are often seen as the bottom of the food chain in the industry, and as far as reality TV goes Big Brother probably has the dirtiest tag. I'm lucky to have been able to prove my talent from a wealth of experience as a radio and TV presenter long before I was a reality star. Going through reality tv increased my appeal as a Presenter as I now have a large audience of loyal fans. I'm still surprised that I have more online followers than some of the biggest network Presenters, or the audiences figures of some TV shows and magazines! That's the craziness of the social media world we now live in!
  • Q
    What was your biggest take away from being on Big Brother? Were you surprised you won?
    A
    Despite it being very challenging, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Big Brother and count it as one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I think any reality TV contestant is worried that Producers might portray them in bad light, but I went into the whole experience unafraid to be myself, warts and all (OK I don't have warts). I just knew as a fan of the show that the most engaging people were the ones who wore their hearts on their sleeves and were the most genuine! So instead of trying to fit in with the group, I stood out as a misfit and shared my crazy personality with the nation no matter if it rubbed people the wrong way or not. I had absolutely no idea that people at home were connecting with me and would actually chose me to win the show! The cash was great, but to be accepted by millions watching for who you are, that was the greatest prize of all!
  • Q
    You have recently been on Channel 9's Celebrity Apprentice, can you tell us about the experience?
    A
    I found the whole Celebrity Apprentice experience totally different to Big Brother, and I didn't enjoy it at all! I was hesitant to be involved as I felt like I'd already proven myself on Big Brother, but I wanted to win money for my charity Wildlife Warriors. I felt like the Producers were trying to portray me as someone I wasn't, and that the show was never mine to win. I actually tried to quit but what kept me going was the fact that I was there representing Wildlife Warriors. I'm really proud to have stuck it out and brought home nearly $30k for wildlife conservation, that's all I'll remember about that experience.
  • Q
    As well as a TV presenter and reality star you have been successful in radio, previously heard on Southern Cross Austereo's The Hit List and Nova 969, and currently working with KIIS FM and The Kyle and Jackie O Show. How would you compare working in the different mediums?
    A
    Radio is great fun and something I think I'll always have one foot dipped into. I love that radio is immediate, where-as television takes so long to create! But I do love the excitement of television and performing in front of a camera. I think I just get bored sitting at the same desk in radio studio every day. TV has taken me around the world, discovering so many new experiences and interacting with everyday people.
  • Q
    You are considered a role model to young people and a determined environmentalist undertaking anti-bullying campaigns and working with the charity Wildlife Warriors. Can you tell us about these initiatives?
    A
    This is what it is all about for me!! I am very aware of the responsibility I have that young people are influenced by my words and actions. It's the most special thing in the world when a young person contacts me on social media because they identify with what I'm about. The ability to connect with a large audience and share my message to inspire and empower others to be confident in their own uniqueness, not to conform but to challenge the status quo...that's what I'm all about. I was bullied in school, but my message is not about giving attention to or combating the opinion of bullies. There will always be critics, sadly you cant stop that. I'm more about empowering young people to be resilient and love their own uniqueness, that their value comes from the way they see themselves not how others do! I also want to inspire people to be passionate about the world they live in, to connect with nature and care about protecting it. It's a dream come true to work as a Wildlife Warrior Ambassador supporting the ongoing protection of threatened species and habitats here in Australia and around the world.
  • Q
    Currently you are also working on your own TV projects including The Graceland Happiness Project, can you tell us about them?
    A
    Creating and co-producing 'The Graceland Happiness Project' is one of my proudest achievements. Being able to share the story about friendship and mental illness, then have so much meaningful support and feedback from people who watched it was just so rewarding. I can't believe it recently won Best Documentary in the NYC Webfest! I absolutely love entertaining and story telling, that's why I'm in this industry...so there will be plenty more ideas and projects to develop whether that's with me in front or behind the camera!
  • Q
    What role does Social Media play in your job?
    A
    Social media really has changed the way people like me do business, opening up doors of opportunity to distribute my own content to a large audience, in turn allowing me to generate income from advertising through this medium. It is probably where I spend most of my time, constantly thinking creatively about developing quality content authentic to my brand that engages with my audience. You take the good with bad and the instant access fans have through social media means you get the occasional trolling, but I've got better things to do than take any notice of that!
  • Q
    Do you enjoy attending industry events, if so what are your favourite kind?
    A
    I love attending industry events! They're a privilege and it bugs me when I see some of my peers rock up like they are superstars, pose at the media wall for a pic hoping to get in the social pages and leave before the event has really kicked off. I'm not too fussed about being "seen", I just like to have a good time and I've been lucky to have attended so many great events. My favourites would have to be where there is a surprise element, be it a creative food or drink on offer or some great entertainment. Oh and I'm a sucker for a goodie bag too.
  • Q
    If you weren't a Media Personality and TV/Radio Presenter, what would you be?
    A
    Big hair Rockstar... but I think I was born a few decades too late.

    Zookeeper?
  • Q
    Your Instagram/Twitter:
    A
    @timdormer