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Comedian Rhiannon tells: ‘I had imposter syndrome’

The Kiwi funnywoman reveals why she was so nervous about hosting new show My Dream Green Home
Rhiannon McCall smiling with one hand on her hip

The pressure of recording her latest TV offering in the same Auckland studio as RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under was overwhelming for comedian and actress Rhiannon McCall.

“I walked in and there were just people everywhere!” she recalls. “I was immediately like, ‘I’m not prepared for this!’”

Despite her extensive experience in television – writing for 7 Days, and starring in such shows as Shortland Street, Creamerie, Golden Boy and Funny Girls – the 30-year-old found herself in uncharted territory as the host of new show My Dream Green Home, an experience she describes as “extremely intimidating”.

My Dream Green Home is a renovation series with a sustainability twist, inviting families, friends and flatmates to collaborate with experts in enhancing their homes and lifestyles in eco-friendly ways.

Rhiannon, however, is a self-proclaimed “newbie” to the environmental game. She struggled to find her place, saying she suffered from “imposter syndrome”.

She laughs, “I’ve come from the perspective of being a real dumb-dumb, basically! I’m so lucky I got to learn about sustainability and travel to incredible parts of the country with an amazing crew. It felt like a trick, like someone was going to pull the rug out and go, ‘Psych!’”

My Dream Green Home host Rhiannon McCall leaning on a table

Exploring Aotearoa came with its challenges for the comedian. She admits, “Before going on the show, I had a fear of flying.” But the production crew helped settle her anxiety during several turbulent flights between Auckland, Queenstown and Christchurch.

She says, “I still get nervous, but I’m a lot better now.”

As for getting over her nerves about hosting a TV show, Rhiannon adds, “I had a background in television production. I knew how the editing process worked and I knew the editors were there to make us look good.”

It was her experience on Seven Sharp that convinced My Dream Green Home creator Alysha Kennedy that Rhiannon was ready to take the reins.

The comedian tells, “I did a Zoom audition where I had to read out bits of script and pretend that I was interviewing her. I’d been working at Seven Sharp for a year, so my interviewing skills are pretty hot from all that practice.”

Growing up in Christchurch, the comedian took part in high schools theatresports competitions and worked with the Hagley Theatre Company. Rhiannon says this experience in improvised comedy was “invaluable” for hosting My Dream Green Home, which was only lightly scripted.

She jokingly compares her approach on the show to that of an unleashed dog. She smiles, “I just went for it. I knew to head for the grass and not dash onto the road though!”

While she’s tossing up whether to seek new adventures overseas or save up to buy a dream home of her own, Rhiannon’s major goal for 2024 is to improve her stand-up skills.

“When I started, I wasn’t very good – I would often die on stage,” she admits. But those past flops have made her “kinda invincible” and she used this mindset for her show Toxic Shock Bimbo at this year’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival, which saw her nominated for the coveted Billy T Award.

Rhiannon on stage holding a pirates hat on her head
In her one-woman improv show The Good, The Bad And The Completely Made Up.

Rhiannon initially questioned whether her light-hearted manner would be appropriate for My Dream Green Home, which deals with the harsh realities of climate change. However, the show’s team of sustainability specialists helped settle her mind.

She explains, “All of the experts genuinely care about the environment so much. They walk the walk, as well as talk the talk, so I’m just the specialist in having a laugh! I learned so much – like, I didn’t realise that construction is pretty unsustainable and there’s a lot of waste.”

But the most significant lesson Rhiannon took away was that even small actions can substantially impact your life. Where she once would feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting a full-scale vegetable plot, she now knows that a simple kitchen herb garden is an excellent first step.

And when cooking feels like a daunting task, consider the age-old adage of “less is more”. Streamline your pantry and decluttering all those spices you rarely use.

As for her personal resolution? “If I forget my keep cup, I skip the coffee,” says Rhiannon. She acknowledges that it’s a small change but one that aligns with her – and the show’s – commitment to sustainability.

My Dream Green Home screens 7.30pm Wednesdays on TVNZ 1 and streams on TVNZ+.

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