Reality TV star Gina Liano is many things to may people but above all she is a mother, daughter and a sister.
Reality TV star Gina Liano is many things to may people but above all she is a mother, daughter and a sister. contributed

The real story of Housewives of Melbourne star Gina Liano

GINA Liano is many things to many people.  

But above all, the 52-year-old's world is about being a mother, a daughter and a sister - her family is everything.  

There is so much more to the straight-shooting glamorous personality than what we have seen on our television screens for the past six years on The Real Housewives of Melbourne.  

About 260 people were left in awe and incredibly inspired by Gina's extraordinary life story at The Indy Foundation dinner at Hervey Bay RSL on Friday night, where she spoke honestly about her very personal sell-out autobiography Fearless: My Life My Way.   

Her son Myles was by her side.

Indy Foundation guest speaker and The Real Housewives of Melbourne star, Gina Liano, was proud to have her son Myles by her side at the event on Friday night.
Indy Foundation guest speaker and The Real Housewives of Melbourne star, Gina Liano, was proud to have her son Myles by her side at the event on Friday night. Joy Butler

So willing with her time, Gina also spoke to me in an hour-long interview from her home office in Melbourne ahead of her public appearance in Hervey Bay.  

Her beloved fur babies Chewie and Noodles were in the background with their groomer, being prepared for the filming of their own TV show called Australia's Favourite Dogs.

"They are my favourite creatures on this earth at the moment and I'm really looking forward to it (filming) ... it should be a lot of fun," Gina said.  

A very down-to-earth Gina spoke candidly about juggling life as a highly-respected Melbourne barrister, a reality TV star, mother, actress, author, property developer, fragrance and fashion designer, celebrity wedding celebrant, author, and her fight against life-threatening cancer.  

At a young age - and far from the glamorous lifestyle of fame and fortune she now leads - Gina's book also delves into her anxiety, panic attacks, post-natal depression and the struggles of being a single mother after two failed marriages.  

The book, which is also full of Gina's own "light-hearted humour", was a complete sell-out on its launch day in May 2015.   

"It was such an indulgence really, to be able to write an autobiography and have such a fantastic response," Gina said.  

"It's a very easy read and it's very much in my tone of voice and it sounds like I'm the narrator of it because it's how I speak.  

"And even though it talks about being fearless and these difficult scenarios, it's not a heavy-hearted book.  

"It's quite light-hearted in that I focus on more how I coped rather than the dread of what was happening and I think that can be inspiring and just give people some ideas, perspective and coping strategies.  

"It's not that I didn't have fear, it was that I confronted the fear head on, which is what makes it fearless.  

"A lot of people have related to some of the difficulties but I think I've always approached everything with a sense of humour.  

"I always used to get in trouble at school when I was young because when I was in trouble, I would laugh," she said. 

"I'd be getting told off by one of the nuns at school and I'd have a smirk on my face and that's how I coped with stress, with humour, and I think that definitely comes through in the book."  

Gina was honest about her battle to finish schooling and living on her own with her two sisters from 15, after her parents marriage and business failed.  

Even though she had a strong ambition to study law, she was a married mother of one by the time she was 23.   

Along with her talented sisters, Bettina and Teresa, Gina's determination to succeed would see her establish three highly successful fashion stores in stylish inner-city Melbourne.  

But even with this and other successful property development ventures, she never lost sight of her goal to study law. 

She become a criminal barrister and - at 33 - was finally admitted to the bar, which was at first difficult being the colourful and fierce woman she is, in a predominately male industry.  

"I've gone into schools and done speeches with young girls who are 15 and 16 and what I say to them is that when you get to adult life, you've been a girl longer than you've been anything and you shouldn't lose being a girl - stay a girl.  

"There was a judge that actually encouraged me. He said: "Gina when you walk into the room you're like a breath of fresh air", and that was really refreshing.  

"I got the toots routine a few times from barristers but I did put them back in their place very quickly," she said with a laugh.  

Gina said it was these life defining moments that made her the strong and independent woman she is today.  

"Living on my own from the age of 15, I still had an ambition to be educated and I confronted that and faced that and didn't give up ... I think for a 15-year-old it was an act of being quite fearless when the odds were a bit stacked up against me in terms of even buying school books and commuting to and from school and not having that support in place.  

"I was quite focused and determined.   

"At the time I thought everyone was like that but you realise as you get older that a lot of people do give up, not forever, but if it's too hard they take the path with the least resistance and I probably never did that."  

With a dream career, a new husband and a second child, she was ready to take on the world.  

But it was not to be; only four years later, she received a shock diagnosis of life-threatening bowel cancer, with only a 35 per cent chance of survival.  

But against all odds, Gina is now cancer-free.  

"That was obviously definitely very difficult - difficult for everybody.  

"There is unfortunately a high incidence of cancer in our community so a lot of people related to that (in the book), but I approached it with a bit of humour as well.  

"I was scared when I had cancer, I had fear, I thought I was going to die.

"I had a 35 percent chance of surviving and that was a very big motivator for me to keep smiling, put my high heels on, do my hair, put on my make-up every day, don't lie in bed and keep moving.  

"I realised I had to get through each day and if I got through each day that meant I was still alive.  

"You never fully recover emotionally from the trauma of that and you never fully recover physically either - but you're here and that is better than nothing."  

With her signature big hair, incredible fashion sense and gorgeous style - Gina lives every day to the fullest.   

She could be working on a trial in court in the morning and filming an episode of housewives in the afternoon, with a few interviews and guest appearances thrown in for good measure.  

"I do get tired but I think everybody does.   

"You would get tired at the end of the day like I do but for me, probably the point of difference is that I'm doing so many different things that it's quite taxing mentally because I have to get my head across a lot of ideas and issues.  

"For example, if I'm in court and running a trial it's a bomb of information to run a five-day trial, and then I've got fragrances and books and a (Flawless) tanning range that I'm developing, filming housewives or doing a public appearance or filming a dog show, doing the morning show or a photo shoot - there's a lot of peripheral stuff.  

"Most people focus on one thing and they do it well; I probably focus on 100 things and hope that I do most of them okay," she said with a laugh.  

With a lot of talk about coping strategies, the conversation quickly went to her starring role on the RHO Melbourne, which follows the lives of seven wealthy and glamorous ladies from Melbourne.  

I was intrigued to find out just how the star handled the often searing and unscripted confrontations from the ladies, which more often than not, sees Gina end up in a battle of wits with her co-stars.  

"It can be quite soul destroying at times, I might say, and when you get trolls it can be upsetting at times and hurtful, but most of the girls are very professional and understand that we are there to entertain and we need to deliver a show that's entertaining and worthy for the viewer to be invested in.  

"Most of that interest is created through jeopardy - it's not just the jeopardy but how we cope with it.  

"Most of season one when I gained a huge following I didn't really get involved in a lot of confrontation but it was directed at me and I think that a lot of people were very entertained at my reaction and how I dealt with it.  

"Sayings like; "well, don't look darling" - they all just became catch phrases. That is definitely part of the entertainment.   

"If I curled up in ball in the foetal position, people would have been cringing and would have hated to watch that.

"I believe that the entertainment is in the reaction to the conflict, how we brush it off and keep moving.  

"It's been a lot of fun and definitely that journey has been very interesting. We do have a heap of fun when we're filming."

STAR STRUCK: Hervey Bay Independent staff Kerrie Alexander, Helen Rekdale, Vikki Seddon, Karen White and Lousie Holmes had a photo opprtunity with The Real Housewives of Melbourne star Gina Liano at the Indy Foundation event.
STAR STRUCK: Hervey Bay Independent staff Kerrie Alexander, Helen Rekdale, Vikki Seddon, Karen White and Lousie Holmes had a photo opprtunity with The Real Housewives of Melbourne star Gina Liano at the Indy Foundation event. Joy Butler

 Gina has her fingers crossed for another action-packed season this year.  

"We can safely assume that there is a plan for season five. We haven't been given any timing yet or any cast changes ... it's very preliminary at this stage."  

While the entertainment value is definitely a must, Gina said it was often quite difficult to switch from being Gina the barrister to Gina the entertainer.  

"It is polarised," Gina said.  

"I think with that, sometimes it can be very difficult because some of the content of housewives, which is the entertaining part, it's quite vacuous.

"That can be harder than the stuff that's the real deal and intense.  

"For example, I ran a rape trail on a sexual assault case with a young girl. She had been raped by her step-father and I ran that case for about nine days.  

"I just recall one night filming housewives after court and I was with Pettifleur, God love her, and we were talking about her teeth and I looked at production and just said: "Really?,"she said with a laugh.  

"It was just this massive issue that was, in the scheme of things, so inconsequential and insignificant but very relevant to her."  

Then there's Gina the celebrity marriage celebrant. It's a relatively new job added to her never-ending resume, which sees Gina marry people from all walks of life.  

"I am loving every minute of it. I have done 13 weddings and have another 15 booked.  

"There's a lot of work involved but it's so much fun.  

"It's so different to what I do during the week so it's a welcome relief to go from being a barrister where I'm prosecuting very difficult cases at times, to celebrating love."  

But the biggest accomplished in her life, Gina says, is being a mother.  

"I have enjoyed being a mother more than anything else - mother to my two children, mother to my dogs and mother to some of my friends - I really do enjoy that nurturing and maternal role.  

"Being a mother has definitely been my greatest achievement.   

"It has been my motivation and foundation for everything."    



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