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Magdalena Roze – The Weather Girl

By Dan Hutton on February 1, 2015 in People

Photo: Andrew Goldie

Photo: Andrew Goldie

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Austria, a safe haven for many Polish refugees escaping the threat of military rule at the time. From there, Australia accepted my family as refugees when I was six weeks old and my sister was three. I feel Australian, because I’ve been here pretty much since day dot and my parents totally embraced Australia from the beginning. They always told us that when we watch sport we have to support Australia first, and if they lose, only then we can cheer for Poland!

Is Magdalena Roze your real name?
Not exactly; over the years it has changed. When you go to the family cemetery in Poland, there are slight variations in letters where people have gotten it wrong and it’s stuck. My parents shortened our last name to make it easier for us in Australia. It was originally Jamroziak. Yep, you can see why they changed it!

How did you end up in the Eastern Suburbs?
I guess now’s the time to come clean that I’m actually a proud westie. When my family and I first arrived in Australia we lived in the Villawood Migrant Hostel (now known as the Detention Centre) for ten months to get our feet on the ground. We then lived in Punchbowl, Greenacre and finally Sydney’s north, which made it easier for me to go to James Ruse Agricultural High School. The first time I was in the Eastern Suburbs was when I moved out of home during university. After some stints in London and Balmain, I moved back to the east about a year and half ago with my boyfriend (Three Blue Ducks chef Darren Robertson) because we both surf and missed the ocean!

I believe you’re now splitting your time between Bronte and Byron Bay; where do you call home?
You’re asking a mother to choose her favourite kid! Even though I’ve spent more time in Sydney, Byron really does feel like home and it’s great because while it’s this relaxed lifestyle, there’s a lot going on there. I feel so lucky to be able to work here, see all my mates, and get the best out of city life… and then go back to an oasis!

What do you love about the Eastern Suburbs?
The beaches are number one for me and the Bondi to Bronte is my favourite walk. That was the main reason why I moved to the Eastern Suburbs in the first place. Plus there are so many fantastic restaurants and cafes around here too. There’s nothing better than a weekend brunch and swim in the ocean.

Is there anything that gets your goat about the area?
If we could take away peak hour traffic and make parking free for everyone that would be amazing. No harm in dreaming!

How did you get your first break in television?
I was at Sydney University studying Journalism and in the fourth and final year we got the opportunity to do an internship. At the time I was totally in love with travel and just so passionate about exploring new places; I still am. The big show at the time was Getaway, so my dream was to do my internship there and I was lucky enough to get it. After the internship, Getaway offered me a job as a researcher and that’s how it started. The irony of being a researcher on a travel show is that you actually don’t get to travel at all. You’re a bit of a travel agent, organising the logistics and doing all the research. So eventually I decided to go to Europe to explore all these amazing places myself and they were kind enough to say that if I ever went back, they would always look after me. While I was in London on holiday, I was offered a job with the BBC on a travel program called Unchartered Territory. I ended up staying there for two or three years, working my way up to producing those shows all around Europe, which was amazing. Then I came back here and worked on another travel show for Channel Nine called Things To Try Before You Die with executive producer Karen Warner, who is now one of my best friends. She’s been really influential in my career because she was the one that told me I should be a TV presenter and really pushed me to do it, so we put together this really quick showreel. She asked me what my dream job was and I said National Geographic, so I sent my showreel off to them and I had a job within a week. I guess it was meant to be. I ended up presenting on Nat Geo for two years and then I moved on to the Weather Channel. I became so passionate about the weather and doing it properly that I decided to go back to university to study Atmospheric Science at the same time. It was one of the best but most difficult things I’ve ever done. After the Weather Channel I got a job at Channel Ten, which gave me the opportunity to work on so many different projects including Breakfast, News, The Project, two Olympic Games and the Grand Prix. I stayed there for a few years and now I’ve gone freelance. I’ve been doing a lot of work for Seven, so I think people have assumed that I signed with them, but I haven’t. I’m still waiting for the right opportunity. Before I sign a network contract again, I want to make sure that the role is a new challenge. I’m really looking to the next phase but I don’t know what it will be yet!

You’ve worked as a journalist, a producer and you’ve essentially studied meteorology; are there many other weather presenters who have the same skills as you?
It surprises me that weather in general isn’t given the amount of time or expertise that it should. It’s such a shame that for years and years now, it’s just been a bit of a filler or light entertainment, when actually it’s one of the most important things that people need to know about. There’s still a massive opportunity to do weather better, not just on television but in all forms of media.

You’ve just launched your website and blog, www.magdalenaroze.com, which will explore all things weather, food and lifestyle; are they your main passions in life?
Yes, for sure. It’s no secret that I’m a massive weather nerd but the website also allows me to explore my other passions related to weather like travel, fashion, food and wellbeing. I love lifestyle and I thought that to give the website a point of difference, I would explore all of these topics through a weather lens, which is really easy because we eat with the seasons, dress for the elements, change our beauty regime depending on the weather, etc. Weather affects everything!

You mentioned your boyfriend Darren, who is a co-owner of Bronte’s Three Blue Ducks; how did you guys meet?
We first met in the make up room at Channel Ten before filming Ready, Steady, Cook! It’s when he first started on telly and I was doing Breakfast at the time. There was a celebrity challenge and they paired me with Darren and the host of Breakfast, Kath Robinson, with chef Massimo. We were capsicums and they were tomatoes. He asked me out the next day but it took us six months to actually go out on a date.

Are there any wedding bells on the horizon?
You’ll have to ask Darren!

What do you like about the food at Three Blue Ducks?
It’s wholesome, unpretentious and there’s such an amazing focus on produce. It’s one of my favourite places to eat, and that’s aside from the fact that it’s owned by Darren and his mates.

What do you think makes Daz such a good chef?
So many things. The more I get to know him, the more I have an appreciation for just how good he is at what he does, not just from a skill point of view either, but from the passion and knowledge behind it all. One of the main things is that he’s done it for so long, since he was in his teens. He worked at incredible restaurants in the UK before he even got a job at Tetsuya’s, which at the time was the number one restaurant in Australia. He ended up working at Tetsuya’s for eight years, three of those as head chef. He’s very creative, has great integrity and can handle enormous pressure. He’s worked extremely hard for the last 20 years to achieve what he has.

Daz and the other owners of Three Blue Ducks recently moved up to Byron Bay to open Three Blue Ducks at The Farm; can you tell us a little bit about what they’re up to?
It’s such a great opportunity. The Farm at Byron Bay is the vision of Tom Lane and his wife Emma. They purchased this 80 acre farm and they needed a restaurant, a cooking school and a deli, and the Three Blue Ducks were lucky enough to be the guys that they wanted to work with. Essentially they’re creating a place where people can learn about food and where a lot of the produce from the farm is actually served at the restaurant. It’s really exciting.

Would you give up your career to have a family?
Family is number one for me. It’s a personal choice, but I think that you can, with a supportive partner, still work and continue to be creative. I actually think it’s really important to still fulfil your passion, if that’s what you want to do. When I have kids, that might change for me and I might decide that for a period of time my family is my focus and that’s what I want to concentrate on. I get the feeling that I will probably want to balance both… we’ll see!

What is it about the weather that you love so much?
We’re all connected by it. The weather is something that’s important to everyone, every single day, and it’s nice to do a job that helps people understand what’s going on. I’m always amazed by how much the weather affects people. For example, when you get those big afternoon thunderstorms, social media goes nuts and I love that. The science behind the weather is so fascinating too. At school, we’re generally taught that science and art are polar opposites, but the more I learn, the less I see that separation. I see so much art and beauty in the science behind the weather, if that makes sense. To me, physics is actually quite abstract and understanding requires great imagination.

As a journalist, what’s the biggest story you’ve covered?
Definitely weather stories. The Black Saturday bushfires and the Queensland floods were pretty intense. At the Weather Channel, we covered the Victorian Bushfires and I was lucky enough to accept an Astra Award for Best News Coverage at the time, which was a career highlight.

Is the weather looking concerning this summer?
At the moment, all the outlooks are for very hot and dry weather. We’ve come off the back of the hottest spring on record. The ocean is acting as if it’s El Nino, but the atmosphere hasn’t caught up yet, so officially it’s not, but we’re behaving like it is weather-wise. Because of this we’re expecting hotter and drier than average conditions, which means more heatwaves, more intense bushfires and usually, with this type of forecast, you get less tropical cyclones. Nevertheless, you can still get a big one.

What do you get up to in your spare time?
I love food and cooking. Daz is also teaching me to surf, so that’s definitely a work in progress! I think he’s got a higher idea of my ability than what it actually is in reality, because a few months ago we went on a surf trip to Samoa and it’s all reef breaks. He actually bought me a brand new surfboard for the trip because all I had was this massive longboard foamy thing that I’ve been using at North Bondi. I got caned by a bomb set and spent the rest of my time snorkelling! I also love going away and exploring new places and restaurants whenever we get time off. If my nerdiness wasn’t apparent already, I also like making my own all natural face creams in the Thermomix.

What do you do to keep yourself looking fit? Are you a fitness freak?
No, not at all. I think it’s just an active and busy life. I enjoy ‘yin’ type exercise so I dabble in yoga and pilates, spend a lot of time at the beach and enjoy a run when I have the time. I believe in a healthy lifestyle but to be honest, it’s not something that’s regular and I’m certainly not a fitness freak.

Given that you’re on television, do you feel a certain amount of pressure to look good?
I do a little bit but not enough to actually make me do anything about it! It helps that the make-up girls are magicians. While I enjoy getting glammed up for TV or an event, it’s also nice to go casual and make-up free when I’m off-duty.

I believe you’re tackling the Wild Women On Top Sydney Coastrek team trekking challenge on March 6; how did you get coerced into that?
Adam Spencer, who is a good mate of mine, rang me up out of the blue and just said, “Hey mate, do you want to do this charity walk with me?” I was like, “Yeah, yeah, of course; what is it for?” He said, “It’s Coastrek and it’s for Fred Hollows.” Fred Hollows has actually personally helped Adam with his eye so it’s really important to him. To be honest, I didn’t actually fully know what I was signing up for when I said yes and when I found out it was 55 kilometres, I was like ‘oh my god’, because I’ve done a 20-kilometre walk before and my legs were like jelly. But it’s mind over matter with that kind of thing and I’m really excited about the challenge. I’ve got some of my friends into doing it too, so we’re training together. Just $25 is enough to restore someone’s sight and we’re aiming to raise $3,000,000, so 120,000 people will see again as a result of this trek, which is very motivating.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline?
I do have a few projects in the pipeline. One’s in the tech weather space and it’s something that I hope everyone’s going to use and find really helpful, but I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg’s getting nervous just yet! That’s all I can really say about it at this stage.

Do you have any role models in the industry?
Someone that I’ve always looked up to in Australian television is Jana Wendt. She’ll always be an icon for the professionalism, intelligence, and strength she brought to her work. Kerri Anne Kennerley is great too. I’ve done a lot of work with her through Planet Ark, and she’s a total pro and a TV legend, yet so self-deprecating, which makes her really endearing. She’s been in the industry for such a long time and managed to weather so many different storms with absolute grace and humour; she’s a survivor. Lisa Wilkinson is incredible too. I recently saw her speak at the Cosmopolitan Fun and Fearless Female Awards and she’s probably the most inspiring woman in Australian television right now.

Do you reckon it’s becoming easier to be a female in the media these days?
I think it’s easier than it was before. People like Lisa and Kerri Anne have paved the way; they’ve been trailblazers, but there’s still a way to go. There’s inequity with how much women are paid compared to men in a lot of roles and there’s still a lot of pressure that women face, especially in terms of appearance and balancing a family. But it’s definitely getting better. I love that Karl Stefanovic wore the same suit for a year to prove that no one pays anywhere near as much attention to what the guys wear on television compared to the girls. What a legend.

Do you have any advice for youngsters looking to make a career out of media or meteorology?
Yes. Whichever one you choose to do, be prepared to work really, really hard. I think there’s a tendency these days to sort of switch different jobs and try different things, which is really cool too, because you don’t often know what you want to do. But give something a good go and be prepared to do all the really crappy jobs before you get promoted. Work hard, be passionate about what you do, be respectful to the people around you, and try to make a difference. With regard to meteorology, I strongly encourage people to get into it, because the more weather nerds we have out there the better.

What action needs to be taken by Australia to make a difference with regard to climate change?
Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change and it’s surprising that we’re not doing more to combat it. There’s no doubt about the fact that it’s happening, and at the moment the science is only pointing to the fact that humans are responsible. We have the power to make a difference. I see that as a really positive thing, because obviously nature is much more powerful than us, but there’s a lot we can do to work better with it rather than against it. Extreme weather events will happen with or without climate change but we need to minimise the risk of these becoming more frequent and intense like they already are. I think that the majority of Australians want to do the right thing, but this isn’t reflected in policy at present. We have the technology to produce clean energy so the government should make it affordable for individuals and businesses to take this option. We should be the leaders. It doesn’t matter what everybody else is doing. Let’s pretend climate change isn’t real and we’re not responsible for it; is being left with a clean planet such a bad thing?

In an ideal world, what does the future hold for Magdalena Roze?
I hope this techy weather project that I’ve been working on turns out to be something that people love. I’m also really excited about my next television role, even though I don’t know what it’s going to be. I’m still really hungry for it. My website has been really successful so far so I want that to grow, alongside my passions for travel and food. And I just want to live a really beautiful life between Byron and Sydney with Darren. Oh, and if I can stand up on a surfboard longer than the toddlers I’m learning next to that would be awesome!

You can check out Magdalena’s blog at www.magdalenaroze.com. To find out how you can get involved in the Sydney Coastrek, go to www.coastrek.com.

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