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Erin Simpson changes her tune

Former Te Kauwhata farm girl says goodbye to kids’ TV to pursue her musical dreams.

She’s interviewed pop stars Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Selena Gomez on her children’s TV show – now Erin Simpson wants to follow in their famous footsteps.

After five years on our screens and 770 episodes, the energetic blonde is saying goodbye to her popular TV2 afternoon series The Erin Simpson Show.

But as she hangs up her costumes and wigs in her dressing room at Whitebait studios in Christchurch for the last time, Erin is beginning a brave new chapter and has launched a new single, Give Me Somebody, with dance music duo Totes! – otherwise known as Auckland DJ/producer Justin Sane and songwriter/vocalist Huz.

Ending the show, which Erin calls the “coolest project ever”, is an emotional experience, but she isn’t afraid to chase her dreams – an outlook she has tried to impart to her young audience over the years.

“There is always sadness when something ends, but who knows what is around the corner?” says Erin. “I put myself out there on the show every day. This is just another avenue.

“If people don’t like the single, then I’ve learned something – and if people do like it, that’s awesome.

“If I was able to successfully keep working in music, that would be my dream.”

Singing has always been a passion for Erin, who trained in musical theatre at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art in Christchurch.

Although she knows she may receive criticism for trying something new with her career, the presenter, whose first job was rearing calves on the family farm in Te Kauwhata near Huntly, isn’t a quitter.

After the February 22 earthquake, Erin and her team were given only a two-day grace period from filming before they went back on air.

Although she had to wash her hair and do her laundry at the studio when her own home was damaged, Erin was determined to stay positive among the devastation.

“The fact that my toilet’s not working at home isn’t really something people care about,” she says with a laugh.

“We have gone through every natural disaster on this show. We have had guests cancel because of snowstorms closing the airport, followed by earthquake after earthquake.

“Thinking on your feet is part of the challenge. Every time a guest cancels, I call in a lot of favours.I’m always on the phone pleading to [former All Black] Andy Ellis and Jason Gunn saying, ‘Can I have just half an hour of your time?’”

Although the show has won her thousands of young fans, Erin was far from an overnight success. She worked her way into entertainment wearing a sweaty costume, where nobody could see her face.

Her first starring role was as Captain Crusader – the mascot for the Super 14 team the Crusaders, and her first on-screen gig was as Tamati Coffey’s goofball skit partner on What Now?

“I’ve learned that stamina, kindness, curiosity and a willingness to look stupid are important for TV,” says Erin.

As she launches a singing career, Erin is taking inspiration from New Zealand’s Got Talent host Tamati, who branched out into other presenting work after leaving children’s TV – but she’s not breaking away from her young audience.

“Kids are so intelligent and  leading the way in TV and technology. I think people who disregard their opinions

are stupid,” she explains.

“I had the option of filming the music video inside a bar with me looking sexy, because it will play after The Erin Simpson Show is finished. But I don’t want to overlook the young audience.

“Anyway, once people view you as sexy, then every time they see you out looking normal they say, ‘Oh, she has let herself go,’” she jokes.

Erin won’t reveal her age because she wants to appear relatable. “It makes you seem like an adult [to kids] when you want to be their mate.”

If her first song does well in the charts, Erin plans to make another single, otherwise she’ll steer away from career and focus on her love life. Single for several years, Erin has enlisted her former What Now? pal to play matchmaker.

“Tamati’s not been very successful so far, but he’s still on the hunt,” says Erin with a big laugh. “I sit here and think, ‘How is it possible that I am still single?’ If Tamati’s [matchmaking] doesn’t work out, I’ll pitch my own dating show, purely so I can find someone.”

Photos: Caren Davis • hair & make-up: Jules Armishaw • p26 erin wears dress from glassons, shirt from isakelle. p27 erin wears dress from isakelle • Location: Hilton Auckland

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