Sarah Harris has revealed the blunt – but effective – advice given to her by Waleed Aly after she was revealed as his new Project co-host.
The former Studio 10 presenter was announced as Carrie Bickmore’s replacement last November, joining Ten’s nightly panel program for the first time last week.
While it’s certainly an exciting opportunity for Harris, she admitted to news.com.au podcast I’ve Got News For Youthat she’d initially been worried about the scrutiny that comes with it.
However, Aly was quick to help alleviate her concerns.
“I’d mentioned that one of the worries I had about joining [The Project] was all the kind of negative press around the show – sometimes that can come with being on a show that, you know, sets the agenda and just kind of wants to get people thinking and have an opinion on things,” she said.
“And [Aly] just said to me, ‘Don’t read any of it. Not the good stuff, and not the bad stuff, and you have to realise that your public persona is one thing, and you and your friends and your family know who you are.’
“I guess I knew that already, because I’ve worked in media for a long time. But the focus can be pretty intense on this show – and let’s just say I haven’t checked in on Twitter for a while.”
Harris also admitted the “noise” around The Project initially made the prospect of joining the panel “a bit daunting”.
“It’s a show that generates a lot of headlines … but this is why we’re in the job, and you’ve got to give things a crack,” she said, adding that being apart from her two sons a few days is challenging.
“Having kids back home in Sydney has been tricky, you know, sort of having my heart in Sydney and working here. But by the same token, it also means I can just focus on work when I’m here, and then I get to have 100 per cent baby time when I’m home. So it’s a bit of a juggle.”
The new role means Harris is now dividing her time between her base in Sydney, where her two kids live, and Melbourne, where The Project is filmed.
“When I first got the job, [Aly and I] did kind of a promo shoot together, and Waleed said to me: ‘When you’re in Melbourne, we’re your family, for anything you need’,” she told IGNFY host Andrew Bucklow.
“He’s had me to dinner over at his house a couple of times already with his beautiful wife, Susan … He’s like this big brother, who’s just trying to make sure that we feel really supported, and he doesn’t need to do that. I think that’s a real measure of a person.”
Harris went on to describe her first week behind the desk as “a wild ride”.
“It’s just so out of my comfort zone, but I’m loving every minute of it,” she said.
“I’ve been at the desk, juggling all this promo stuff as well … so it’s been great, and such a big challenge, and I’m sinking my teeth right into it.”
During the wide-ranging interview, Harris weighed in on the recent royal dramas, revealing that she’d actually spent a bit of time with Prince William during her days as a Nine journalist.
“I travelled with Prince William on his royal tour to Australia and we had a meet and greet with [him] on the first day,” she said.
“Basically, we all met William and we were all charmed and loved him, then that meant we all had a really lovely trip … He was divine, he was so fun, and willing to have a bit of a joke.
“I think he was just engaged to Catherine at that point? But yeah, he talked to everyone, had a beer with us all. He was fab.”
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