Melissa Doyle: ‘S*** happens’ mantra gave star strength
TV star Melissa Doyle has revealed how tears in private and her personal motto of "shit happens" helped her survive losing her prized gig co-hosting Sunrise.
The popular host won plaudits for her recent exclusive Sky News interview with Australian academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert who was held in an Iranian jail for more than two years.
And now Doyle is on the other side of the microphone.
In a searingly personal chat with podcast host and businesswoman Tory Archbold for the hit Nova series Powerful Steps, Doyle has laid bare her challenge to reboot her confidence and career after she was replaced on Sunrise with Samantha Armytage in 2013.
She also revealed that her resilience was honed from an early age when her parents split up.
"Every change has been a challenge, but I think it's really important to not look for the negative in things that happen," Doyle says.
The mother-of-two says she has come back stronger and all the better for those challenges.
"And, you know, like so many people growing up, there was, you know, my parents split when I was a tiny baby and both of my parents remarried a few times," she says.
"Okay, so I grew up with my motto being shit happens, you know? And I think it's really important to just remember shit happens and I'm not going to sit in the corner and woe is me."
Doyle, now 51, admits she was on autopilot in the immediate aftermath of exiting Channel 7 after a 25-year career.
She tells Archbold: "In the beginning, I guess I had to adjust in so many ways because I'd been there for so long that I felt like I was part of the furniture. So I had to, in my brain, stop talking about myself working at Seven in the present tense.
"And then every morning I'd hop in the car to go to the gym or go somewhere and it'd say, you know, 25 minutes to Martin Place, traffic is light. And that was like, oh, gee, thanks, you know, saving salt in the wounds. But it took a little while just to kind of, I guess, get over it.
"I kept myself very busy in the beginning because I knew that if I went from 100 to zero, then probably that wouldn't be the best thing for my head space. So for the first couple of months, I was doing a lot of online events for charities and I did a lot of writing and I was just trying to keep myself busy.
"Then I reached a point where I went, okay, take a breath, crazy woman. Just, you know, just settle into this and do a bit of gardening and hang out over summer. And that was really lovely to do, but I'm not very good at sitting still.
"I'm not very good at doing nothing. So it then gave me the chance to think about what came next and to be in that position. I feel very lucky to have the moment to take a big deep breath and go, okay, well, what do I want to do?"
Doyle harbours no bitterness towards her former employer and is grateful for the years of on-camera experience, especially out in the field covering stories such as the Beaconsfield mine disaster.
"I'm a glass half full person and I chose to say thank you. That was wonderful. Thanks for the ride. My gosh, I've just loved it," she says.
"Okay, here's to whatever comes next. And I think that's the way I looked at it, because that's how I chose to look at it to gratitude. Yeah, definitely. There's no point in having you know, it's never a personal decision. I think when a company lets people go for whatever reason, it's just that's the way it is. And so I just said thanks very much."
Renowned for her empathetic manner, Doyle also takes aim at those who think being nice means being weak.
"For me, that was a big recognition of who I am because nice is often mistaken for weak," she says.
"And it's just because I'm smiley and I'm nice and hopefully I'm a kind person, doesn't mean I'm any less strong or any less capable of getting the story. There are a lot of stories that I think need to be told with tenderness."
Her exclusive interview with Moore-Gilbert is a career highlight, Doyle reveals.
"It was the confidence tick that I needed after last year," she tells Archbold.
"It felt good to know that I wasn't washed up and over and I wasn't going to have to find another career that I could still do what it is that I love to do the most. I felt good because Kylie was safe, that I knew that her story was going to be treated properly.
"And how she felt during all of that was paramount, that she wasn't going to be traumatised again. And, you know, the way Sky handled it was remarkable letting it run without any commercial breaks because we didn't want anything to take away from her story, her demeanour, the way she told it, her body language, the pauses. I think that would have totally taken away the power."
Archbold says of the podcast: "Our stories have the power to shape us and we have the power to shape our stories. Melissa is a professional storyteller and now she is using her storytelling power to reintroduce herself to the world."
Doyle's "glass half full" persona has helped turn the Smooth FM weekend announcer's professional life around with an Audible documentary coming out next month on women and ageing.
"I think self-doubt has probably been one of my biggest problems," she says.
"And over the years of questioning, am I good enough for this? Should someone else be doing that? Am I okay? And it took me a while to realise that, you know what? It's I'm here, so stop questioning. Just do just do it."
Originally published as Melissa Doyle: 'S*** happens'