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Emily Jade O’Keeffe

Emily Jade O'Keeffe as Tanya in Mamma Mia! The Musical (image supplied)
Emily Jade O'Keeffe as Tanya in Mamma Mia! The Musical (image supplied)

She is a force to be reckoned with and she is the female voice behind Gold Coast’s number one radio Breakfast Show on 1029 Hot Tomato. Add to that, she is the newly appointed ‘Tanya’ in the upcoming Gold Coast production of MAMMA MIA! The Musical (produced by GC Local Matt Ward). Emily Jade O’Keeffe is a woman of many talents, so it was only fitting that we interviewed the Gold Coast sweetheart ahead of her taking to The Star Gold Coast’s stage from Saturday 19th June this year. We chat about her career, her loves of the Gold Coast and what it will be like preparing for her new role!

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve lived here on and off for 18 years now, the last stint has been for the last 9 years.

Tell us a bit about your career to date.
I’ve been working in the media for the last 25 years. I started in Tasmania in radio and moved all around the country for work; from Tassie to Townsville and everywhere in between. My highlights have been launching 1029 Hot Tomato and having a number one Breakfast Show – Galey, Emily Jade and Christo – here for 7 years now. I also launched Nova in Brisbane and was No 1 for 4 years there. Earlier on, I was working on Mornings with Kerri-Anne and with Channel 9 for 5 years. I also wrote during that time for the Courier Mail for a number of years both in print and being one of their first bloggers (when blogging became a big thing) as ‘Emily Everywhere’ which became their most-read blog.

What career achievement are you most proud of?
I don’t have one I’m most proud of, I’ve been happy with every stage and what they all led to each time. My career has kept me busy and happy and fulfilled at every step. I feel really blessed to have been able to evolve and change and grab each opportunity as it came.

Wake up to Galey, Emily Jade and Christo - 1029 Hot Tomato (image supplied)
Wake up to Galey, Emily Jade and Christo - 1029 Hot Tomato (image supplied)

Growing up you performed in a variety of musicals and have been described as a self-confessed ‘drama nerd’, what initially drew you to the stage?
Both my grandfathers were performers. My grandad on my mum’s side was very musical and in bands and my grandad on my dad’s side was an amateur actor. That trickled down to both my Dad and Mum. I watched Dad act in local theatre and Mum play piano daily, so I was always around music and drama and I guess it was both nature and nurture in my family. I then continued the tradition but monetised it in the end by making it my full-time career.

What are you looking forward to most about your upcoming role as ‘Tanya’ in the Gold Coast production of MAMMA MIA! The Musical?
It’s come at a time where I needed some healing and fun after a marriage breakdown and as I get used to a new normal and new family dynamic, I really was searching for some light at the end of the tunnel. This gives me a chance to laugh and have fun with new amazing people and do what I love best, which is perform and make people smile.

What is your all-time favourite ABBA song and why?
That’s like asking who is your favourite child – I can’t answer that one. I love them all! ABBA Gold was the first CD I ever got. I got it for Christmas and if CDs could wear out, that one nearly did.

How much preparation goes into playing your part as ‘Tanya’?
I think Tanya is a lot like me, so some parts will come naturally, she’s cheeky, fun but loving and a fierce friend and that’s me. I just need to nail the dance moves and singing, rehearsals start soon so I’ll let you know.

Emily Jade O'Keeffe (image supplied)
Emily Jade O'Keeffe (image supplied)

What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: Double Barrel Benowa
Coffee spot: Randy Warhol Southport
Restaurant: Kiyomi at The Star
Bar or pub for a drink: Nineteen at The Star

How do you choose to spend your weekends?
I just love keeping it low key with lots of family time with the kids, parents and friends of my kids which involve good cheese and wine in friends backyards or my backyard while the kids play in the pool or run around having adventures, while we chill and chat.

 

Mamma Mia! The Musical opens on Saturday 19th June 2021 at The Star Gold Coast, grab your tickets here.

David ‘Christo’ Christopher

David ‘Christo’ Christopher is one of the Gold Coast’s best-known radio personalities and one third of the much-loved 102.9 Hot Tomato breakfast team.

Not only that though, Christo recently opened up about his struggle with depression and the platform he created, www.dadswithdepression.com, a space where men can find information and actually talk to one another about their experiences. Which is admirable to say the least.

We sat down for a chat with Christo about his advice for other Dads who might be dealing with depression and the lighter stuff, like celebrity interviews… including Keanu Reeves!

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
My parents moved us all up here from Melbourne when I was 11. Beside a stint of time spent chasing the radio dream, including three years in Townsville and seven years in Sydney, the Gold Coast has been my home for a loooooong time!

What do you love most about living here?
What’s not to love? In my younger days it was brilliant because the nightlife was all on your doorstep and now as a semi-functioning adult, the restaurants and kids events are all so close too. There are loads of new bars and cafés popping up that are kid-friendly and take advantage of the outdoorsy lifestyle, which makes it perfect for raising a family.

Tell us about what you do at 102.9 Hot Tomato.
I’m what they call the “anchor” on the breakfast show. It’s my job to keep the show running smoothly and on time – which is not always easy, Flan and Emily Jade are big talkers! I do all of the “services”, so tell the time and share the temps so people can plan their day. I also do all of the button pushing.

Seems like a pretty good time, what’s a normal day like for you?
Breakfast radio is anything but normal! I’m generally up at 3:40am and then again at 4:00am, after I’ve hit snooze. I’m at the station by about 4:30 to read newspapers and get ready and we go live from 5:00am ‘til 9am. After the show, we generally have meetings to plan for the next day or to discuss events coming up or sometimes we might pre-record an interview. We’re out of there most days by about 11:00am. I try to go to the gym and then depending on whether it’s a kindy day or not, I go home and either spend time with my 3-year-old or try to relax a little until it’s time to do school pick-up. Then, it’s time for my second shift – work of another kind!

How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always loved the radio; my parents bought me my first radio when I was five and I used to sit and make my own radio shows with a tape recorder. I started my radio life here on the Gold Coast at Radio Metro (it was called Hott FM back then). I just walked in and asked if I could do a show and they said yes! I volunteered for about five years, doing a range of shifts and shows around my full-time job. Eventually I was picked up by Sea FM and I moved to Townsville with my co-host, where I stayed for about three years before landing a job in Sydney. I hosted the breakfast show on The Edge 96ONE for six years and did a bunch of work on their sister stations WSFM and Mix over that time too, before taking a job at Nova, where I hosted a national night show and a national weekend countdown. Those jobs were amazing – I don’t think there was a concert that came to Sydney that I didn’t go to. I interviewed all the biggest celebrities including Rihanna, Elton John and Keanu Reeves. But once we had our first child, Sydney was too much – too busy, too expensive. We wanted to come back home where our family is on the GC. I was lucky enough to score a job at Hot Tomato doing nights before they asked me to switch over to breakfast, where I’ve been with Flan and Emily Jade ever since!

You’ve recently begun speaking about your experience with depression, how did you know something wasn’t right?
It runs in my family, which was my first clue. I was first diagnosed around the time my first child was born. I noticed that I was constantly irritable and irrationally angry for no reason whatsoever, along with the general feeling of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning; I knew something wasn’t right. This coincided with a fight I tried to start with a guy over a carpark in a Sydney shopping centre (I’m so not a fighter), with my then heavily pregnant wife in the car, who said, ‘Um, perhaps it’s time to go and get some help?”

Why do you think Dads experiencing depression is so rarely spoken about?
There’s always this stigma that guys don’t talk about their emotions or feelings. When guys get together you don’t really sit there and say, “Hey mate, how’s your depresh going bud?”. We chat about more surface level stuff. Whereas with women, they generally have a great network of friends who they can unleash to and help work through problems. As men, we just bottle it up with a “she’ll be right mate” attitude. It’s this attitude that’s got to change.

Tell us about the platform you’ve created…
It’s www.dadswithdepression.com. I wanted to create a space where dads – well, really all men, but Dads with Depression has such a great ring to it – can go to find articles and stories about depression. It’s a place where they can go to make comments and talk to other men about their experiences. To help them make informed choices on what they need to do next and what steps to take. I also wanted them to be able to speak freely, so if they’re not keen on posting comments on the site, I set up a Facebook page and a private Facebook Group where we can all go and talk openly about what we’re experiencing and talk to others who are going through the exact same thing. There’s an amazing group of guys already on the site and in the private group who are helping each other out.

What’s your advice for other dads who think they might be experiencing depression?
Go and see a doctor. If you’re not happy with the answer they give you, go and see another one! Call the government’s mental health hotline and talk to someone. Come and join the FB group and take a look at the site. Just do something! There’s plenty out there to help you, so please take advantage of it. Suffering in silence is so exhausting, isolating and lonely. Do something so that you’re not going through this alone.

What’s in store for the rest of 2019 for you and the family?
I have set myself some challenges this year to help with my depression and that is to take myself out of my comfort zone. To do some things I wouldn’t normally do. So far, I’ve climbed Mt Warning and I have a few other ideas up my sleeve. My wife is a writer, so I’m hoping she’ll have some time to finish her first great novel and I want the kids to have a happy, healthy and fun year on the Gold Coast!

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast: Because of my work hours, I can’t go past Randy Wallhole in. Their after-work coffee and cinnamon bagel combo is a winner every time for me.
Coffee spot: I recently discovered Café Hedges that I’ve enjoyed and they make great coffee; The Henchman in Miami also make a brilliant coffee. I’m a coffee lover so wherever there’s a coffee to be had, I’m there trying it out! On a bad day, I have five coffees – not great, but it could be worse right?
Restaurant for dinner: On the Gold Coast we are truly spoilt for choice. I’m a big fan of Cucina Vivo at The Star; I love my pasta and pizza so any excuse to go there is a good one. Hideaway Kitchen & Bar in Broadbeach is perfect for a night out with mates. Hellenika in Nobbys is delicious. And I love places like Burleigh Pavillion and Driftwood Social; they are perfect for taking advantage of the Gold Coast weather and enjoying a Sunday session.
Spots to visit on the weekend: Having three kids, my weekends are pretty full of kids parties, activities and errands so we try and go to different spots and places the kids can play all over the coast. The kids (and the kidults!) are always partial to a visit to Movie World or Sea World as they’re some of the best theme parks in the world, right here on our doorstep – so why not take advantage of them.

Matt Ward

He’s the longtime Gold Coast lad doing big things in the world of performance arts and he’s about to bring one of the most fun musicals around to The Star Gold Coast. Yes it’s Mamma Mia! Gold Coasters, and you can watch it on stage right here this July.

We sat down for a chat with Matt about his company Matt Ward Entertainment and all the exciting work he’s doing to bring the arts to the people.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born and bred here on the Gold Coast. I had to move away to pursue my career after high school and have lived overseas for a long period of time, but now I’m back and loving it!

What do you love most about living here?
I love that all my family are here still. There’s something very comforting and grounding knowing you have that amazing support around you and the fact that I can be living on the Gold Coast and able to pursue my passion. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the growth of the arts sector on the Coast and I’m looking forward to contributing to that continued growth as the Gold Coat becomes known as a destination for top tier arts and culture.

Tell us about your upcoming production of Mamma Mia! at The Star Gold Coast, what can we expect?
I am so excited to be bringing this iconic musical to the Gold Coast. We (Gold Coast) are often overlooked when they tour these shows in Queensland. Mamma Mia! Is the ultimate feel-good musical. Jammed packed with all the iconic ABBA songs, what’s not to love about it? You can expect a great night out and dancing in the aisles!

What does it take to put a show like this together?
Many sleepless nights! A great team working towards the same goal. A cast that are equally passionate as they are talented and a community that comes together to support theatre.

What else does your company, Matt Ward Entertainment do?
We mentor and provide education and performance opportunities for our local emerging artists. This is really important to me and why I created Matt Ward Entertainment. I had to leave the Gold Coast to study and pursue my career as the opportunities weren’t here. In many of our youth development programs students have gone on to be accepted into reputable performing arts degrees and sustain careers as working professionals. Matt Ward Vocal Studios is another big piece of what we do. Students have gone on to successful recording careers, The Voice, Australia’s Got Talent and leads in some of the biggest musicals all around the world! And we have just established a new creative space in Bundall.

Talk us through some career highlights thus far…
One of the highlights was creating The Greenroom Project which is a platform that develops new talent and provides a showcase opportunity. It was such a huge success and we look forward to relaunching that again soon. Another highlight was my first musical production RENT. It’s such a harrowing experience not knowing if people would come to the show and risking a tonne of money on a passion project but having it sell out weeks before we opened was definitely a relief and now a career highlight.

How did all of this begin for you?
High School was the catalyst definitely. I was always in the school musicals. From 15, I was in every Arts Centre Gold Coast production and had lessons every day. Then I was accepted into NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts) and I was lucky enough to have a career from there.

What else do you have happening in 2020?
Beside Mamma Mia!, I am looking at producing some new Australian and local artists, as well as workshopping and developing new shows here at home!

Favourites on the Coast:

Cafe for breakfast: Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day! You will find me most weekday mornings at Manola Bro’s and on a weekend, we usually head to a dog friendly cafe in Mermaid!

Coffee spot: I loooove my coffee! Rafiki and Papercup Coffee are a couple of favs.

Restaurant for dinner: I love all the restaurants on the Gold Coast. From cheap eat Thai to steak Glenelg Public House to the incredible chicken at Social Eating House! We are spoilt for choice these days.

How does your weekend usually look: I love the weekends! During the week my partner and I live busy lives so weekends are about catching up with each other, hanging out with friends and spending time with our golden retriever – Gatsby! 🙂

MAMMA MIA! The Musical

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