It's International Women’s Day and so amazing women are on our minds. So we were thrilled that TV & Radio presenter Jenni Falconer took time out of her super-busy day to talk to us. Read on to hear about Jen’s tips on how to break into and and stay in show business (she’s been on our TVs for an impressive 21 years), what her utopia would be, being a Belieber and other insights!
In celebration of women all over the world and coinciding with International Women’s Day, we invited Jenni Falconer, HEART FM radio and This Morning TV reporter (and Elyse & i fan!) to kick off our inaugural blog column and answer our first ‘Life of…’ questions.
Image Credit: Jenni Falconer/Instagram
Glaswegian Jenni has been gracing our televisions for over twenty years (though that seems impossible given she still looks like she’s in her 20’s) - her appearance on Cilla Black’s Blind Date while at university kick started her showbiz career with regular presenting roles for BBC Scotland and ITV - even while still studying Italian, Spanish, Latin, Geography and Management studies. She is one serious multi-tasker! Her resume includes GMTV, Holiday, National Lottery Drawer and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
If International Women’s day is to celebrate successful, working women then Jenni fits the bill supremely - as well as her work on radio and TV, she is a mother to daughter Ella, wife to actor James Midgeley, designs her own line of fitness clothes (XPG by Jenni Falconer at Debenhams), was an Ultimo model, is involved in charity works and regularly runs marathons or enters into a crazy sporting challenge like high diving on TV show the Splash.
Jenni, we are in awe!
Soundtrack to your world
Elyse & i: Your virtual mix-tape: what are the latest beats you’re listening to on spotify/itunes/tidal and does it differ to what you play for listeners on HEART FM?
On Heart we play a really wide mix of music - there is such variety and although I love pretty much all the songs we play, there are a few that I miss that we don't!! I am an old school Radiohead fan - Creep is one of my fave songs as is High and Dry.
Then on top of those I have a bit of Justin Bieber - a year ago I wouldn't believe you if you told me I would say that but he does seem to have reached everyone now, not just the teens and tweens!
I would definitely put a few 80s anthems on there - perhaps a bit of St Elmos Fire, Journey and Don't Stop Believing.
Then I would need the Kings of Leon, The Killers, some Jack Johnson, Damien Rice, Ed Sheeran, a spot of Rihanna and Coldplay and then for old times sake perhaps I would chuck in some Spice Girls!!
Elyse & i: Pick three artists (or records) that define your life from childhood to present…
Kylie and Jason - “Especially for You”. The Stock, Aitken and Waterman era was mine growing up when I was about 11/12. I also loved the TV show Neighbours and so Kylie and Jason were very much on my radar. I have interviewed Kylie since and worked with Jason a few times, in fact Jason is another presenter at Heart now so I seem him fairly regularly....I'm not sure if he knows he was one of my first crushes...that could be awkward!
My friends bought me the Nirvana album, “Nevermind”, for my 16th birthday and that was definitely one of the soundtracks to my later teenage years. We would go to gigs every weekend when local bands would do their best to mimic grunge bands from Seattle...although I am not sure if any of them ever progressed from the village hall!
I would surprise myself and say Justin Bieber!! I am partially influenced by the fact he is always on the radio and therefore I play him every morning on my show and also my 4 year old daughter loves singing along to his songs. Howvever, I give him his due, his recent album is brilliant and so despite cringing at his antics, I have turned into someone who truly does like the music he delivers!
Day Dreaming x Goals
Elyse & i: You’ve achieved so much in your career so far and were even off the starting blocks, while still studying at university. In such a competitive world, what advice would you offer someone who wants to break into television now?
I think that in this game, it is all about being persistent and motivated. It is very easy to give up as a consequence of being told 'no' however you have to become quite determined. With that, you must be memorable, try and offer something unique or at least slightly different. Being pleasant, well-mannered and down to earth I would say are qualities that all too often people forget but are key to being successful and also being appreciative of any opportunities. And finally, be prepared to work hard - long hours, low pay are normal....but it is worth it because it can be a lot of fun and very interesting.
Elyse & i: What’s your goal or dream for the next year?
I have worked in TV for 21 years and I guess the goal is to continue working! There is a fear that with time, you may be pushed aside for newcomers - so it's up to you to work hard and try and find ways to reinvent yourself to stay in the game. I started working in radio 2 years ago and absolutely love it, so alongside television I would like to continue working in radio on Heart.
Elyse & i: If you could put three places in the world together to make your own Jen-utopia where would they be?
The beauty of the west coast of Scotland - where I am from and truly there are some of the most stunning views, beaches and landscapes I have ever seen. Combine that with the excitement of Manhattan - I love the city that never sleeps and have been there so many times I have lost count! My husband proposed to me beneath the Brooklyn Bridge and so it will always have a special place in my heart.
Add the sheer escapism of the Indian Ocean - whether the Maldives, the Seychelles or Mauritius. The water is crystal clear, the beaches are white and photographs just do not do these stunning islands justice.
Image credit: Brooklyn Bridge Sunset / Philipp Klinger
Elyse & i: What was the best thing that happened to you or that you learned in the last month?
In the last month, a lot has happened - in terms of work , I have been busy presenting on Heart and also on ITV as well as preparing to film a new TV advert for a fashion brand. It's all go!
But the exciting things are all related to my 4 year old daughter. Every day she changes and a fortnight ago she swam half a length of the swimming pool without touching the edge or stopping. I was very proud!!
Style, Shopping and Accessory Addictions -
Elyse & i: What’s your signature style?
Simple. Dresses and heels are my favourite staple but on a day-to-day basis I tend to opt for skinny jeans and shirts or t-shirts. In saying that, I leave for work at 3am every morning, so I tend to dress in sportswear because straight after my radio show I will go to the gym or run home...so everyone I work with thinks I live in lycra as they've only ever seen me dress in that!
Elyse & i: What’s your weakness - clothes/shoes/bags/jewellery/all-of-the-above? Anything in particular you are hankering after right now?
I love bags!! Elyse and i are my favourites - so easy to dress an outfit up with beautiful bags that are so well made. I also have a soft spot for dresses and have my eye on an Alberta Ferretti dress and another from Self-Portrait!
Image Credit: Jenni Falconer/Instagram
Elyse & i: How often do you rotate your bags?
I rotate my bags depending on what I am doing. Out of laziness, I tend to stick with the same day bag for a week or so at a time but if I am out in the evening I always pick something more appropriate. I do love handbags and have quite a few but I tend to stick to my absolute favourites until they are fall apart!!
Elyse & i: Are your bags the main protagonist in your outfit or more of the chorus line, a complimentary accessory?
A bag to me can be the starting point for an outfit - if I am determined to use that bag, then the outfit definitely follows!
Elyse & i: What’s your favourite piece from the latest Elyse & i collection?
I have the Nell and I LOVE it. I also really like the Margot and the Edie. In fact them all!!!
The Finer Things in life -
Elyse & i: Greatest culinary moment - either cooking triumphs or dining out delicacies?
I think everyone was in shock when I served Christmas dinner and there were no food poisoned casualties - that has to be a triumph! Admittedly, I didn't nail the timings and there was a very long wait between starter and main but at least everyone was hungry and really ready to eat!
Elyse & i: One foodstuff you couldn’t live without?
Avocado - I love it, on its own, with eggs, on toast, on pizza......delicious and so good for you!
Elyse & i: Virtual dinner party - who’s sat either side of you?
Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds....because why not?!
Elyse & i: If you get an impromptu day off tomorrow what would you do with your day - if money and distance were no object?
I would head straight to a gorgeous spa and have a facial, a massage and as many other pampering treatments as I could squeeze into the hours. I used to indulge in a pamper session like that every now and again but since becoming a mum, my priorities have totally changed and the lack of time along with the fact that treatments are totally self-indulgent means that they are sadly now at the bottom of my to do list....
Quick Fire Round:
• Flat white or matcha tea infusion? Matcha tea
• Sushi or steak? Sushi
• Sneakers or sky high heels? Heels
• Mountain or beach? Beach
• Cocktail or champagne? Champagne
• Clutch or carryall? Carryall
• Martha Stewart or Sheryl Sandberg? Sheryl
• Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? Taylor
• Spin class or spa? Spin class
• Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump? Kim
Jenni Falconer is on HEART FM weekdays 4-6am and Sunday Breakfast 4-6am.
Find out more about International Women’s Day here