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Career

Laura McGoldrick's burning ambition

Radio host, news presenter, sports reporter… and soon-to-be mum. Now Laura McGoldrick is ticking off one more career highlight, with her upcoming appearance in TV show Westside.

Whether it's interviewing cricketers on the sideline of a world cup series, fronting an online news bulletin, hosting a TV show or donning an 80s getup for an acting gig, Christchurch-born Laura McGoldrick isn't one to shy away from an opportunity.
Since she burst onto the scene on Sky Sport's The Cricket Show in 2011, she has become a familiar face in reporting for major cricket matches both here and abroad. Then there's the daily presenting on NZ Herald Focus, sports show hosting on Sky, and regular MC-ing and blogging.
To add to the list, she's soon appearing on our screens again in a completely different guise, for her role in the hit home-grown drama series, Westside. It gets hectic, but Laura, who married New Zealand cricketer Martin Guptill in 2014, enjoys having multiple irons in the fire.
Ask most reporters about their first broadcasting job and they usually rattle off tales of cringe-worthy moments that formed part of the learning curve while honing their craft. But the 28-year-old says life in front of the camera has been pretty smooth sailing so far.
The secrets to her success? There aren't any, she says.
But one thing the sports-mad presenter is clear on is that when time is a precious commodity, carefully cherry picking the projects that get her attention is a key aspect to keeping all the plates spinning.
"I only go and chase things I know I can do," she says. "I'm a real prepper. I go out there and prep a lot, and I do a lot of background work. I'd never get myself into a position where I didn't know what could happen. I pride myself on being able to cover things. If something went wrong, I could fix it. I believe in the fact I can think on my feet."
With husband Martin Guptill
In a world of second guessing and self-deprecation, it's her seemingly unshakable self-belief that sets her apart. A go-getter and a 'get s--t done' type of gal, she bucks the trend, especially among women, when she says a lack of confidence has never been an issue.
"I think I've always had self-confidence," she says matter-of-factly. "I have a great family that were always very honest with me, and still are. I think in my heart of hearts, I always believed I could do certain things, which gave me the confidence to go out there and show people what I've got."
A case in point is when she found herself in a slow patch following an early TV gig. With unwanted time on her hands and a burgeoning broadcasting career to chase, how did she get back into the media game? She simply asked for it.
"After one of my first series on The Cricket Show, I didn't get any work, and I didn't know where to go to find work," she remembers. "So I went and asked someone at MediaWorks if I could come and learn the ropes. That led me to doing some news reading, and because I did speech and drama and elocution and those sorts of things at school, I never had much of a problem, and really enjoyed it."
Then come a phone call that triggered her move into radio, where she co-hosted a show on Hauraki with Matt Heath and Jeremy Wells for two years. Her drive to delve into journalism brought her to her current role as a presenter for NZ Herald Focus, which has given her a crash course in the rigours of online news.
"You do have those stressful times as you've got a certain amount of stories you need to get out day to day for Focus, and when people don't turn up, you just think, 'well, what else can I do?' It's the way the world works now – people want their information yesterday and you need to make sure you get it out there as quickly and succinctly as possible. At the beginning I wasn't sure I would like the pace, but you definitely learn as you go."
In the rapidly moving world of media, she may have built a CV that many aspiring broadcasters would be envious of, but there's always been a key career goal that's eluded her – until now. Acting, whether it's the theatre or the screen, is where a large chunk of her heart is.
"I studied performing arts at Unitec in Auckland. I always wanted to be an actress," she says. "I never went to broad-casting school, I just sort of fell into that in a funny sort of way. I got asked to do a kids' sports show on Saturday mornings, and from there I was asked to audition for The Cricket Show. I've just kept going with it, while trying to act on the side."
The recent role on Three's Westside has helped her add the much-wanted acting string to her bow, and she says being able to dabble in both broadcasting and the silver screen is a career dream come true.
"I thought I'd be an actress in the West End by now, so things have taken a slight turn. But I did get to Westside – not the West End – so that's pretty close! Theatre is my favourite; I like entertaining a crowd. Acting for me always feeds my soul, but you have to pay the bills as well. I love my broadcasting and I love acting, so it's nice to be able to do both."
Her role in the TV drama, set to air in mid-July, meant a whirlwind few days of filming amid an already packed schedule, but Laura felt right at home being on set.
"I actually didn't get the role I auditioned for, but they offered me this other role as Wendy, a nosy neighbour, which I thought, 'I can definitely do,'" she laughs. "The cast are so cool, it was awesome. I'd really like to be able to do more acting. I loved every minute of it."
Taking centre stage right now though is the couple's biggest project to date – their baby girl due in September.
When Laura meets with NEXT in a bustling Auckland café, she's nearly seven months pregnant, battling a lingering cold, and slotting our chat into the hour's break she has before a doctor's appointment. After that, she's straight back into action, filming an episode of a golf show in the afternoon. She laughs readily despite it all, but you can't help but think the real Laura remains something of a mystery.
She speaks directly, answers questions concisely and isn't one for a long-winded story on the wintry day of the NEXT interview, but she lights up whenever talk turns to the couple's first baby. She's under no illusion life with a newborn won't be hard work, but as the summer cricket season waits for no one, both parents plan to be back at work soon after their daughter is born.
"She'll be seven or eight weeks when I go back to work for the cricket, depending on when she decides to come out," Laura says. "Martin will be travelling around New Zealand, so we'd have to do that to be with him; it's just the reality of our lives. My family are great; they've said they will come away with us and help, and we'll just have to assess things as we go.
"I think the best piece of advice my mum has given me so far is that you can think about it and organise all you like, but until you know her temperament, then it's going to be hard to plan things."
What she can plan for, however, is the colour scheme of the baby's wardrobe, since her "control freak" side meant she couldn't bear to wait nine months for the gender reveal.
"For me, it was important to be able to say 'she's good', or 'I can feel her kicking', I like to know what I'm talking about and to. Everyone says, 'But it's such a great surprise', but I think, 'Just how I'm giving birth is a surprise enough!' I don't need anything else when I get there!"
Reading online mothers' forums has become a "terrifying" new habit, but she's not getting bogged down in any negativity.
"I think some people definitely judge but I don't pay any attention to it," Laura says. "If anyone's judging me I haven't listened to it! Each to their own; you have to do what is right for you. I think as women, we have the right to do that. But that judging never stops; after the engagement you get 'When's the wedding?', then it's 'So when's the first baby?'. Oh my lordy."
Despite constant sickness at the beginning, the pregnancy has been smooth overall, although her expert organisation skills have taken a hit.
"I've had a lot of baby brain," she laughs. "I write a lot more down now than I used to. I would pride myself on remembering everything, I didn't need a diary, I always knew where I was meant to be. I could learn lines or whatever, and then it's like 'What's my name?!' It all just went, and it went very quickly!"
While a new baby is a big learning curve for anyone, Laura counts herself lucky she has a tight-knit family and close friends to turn to for advice and support. Growing up in Christchurch, she has always been close to her parents and two younger brothers, Timothy and Christopher. Backyard cricket was a regular family activity, although Laura says sports skills didn't exactly rub off on her.
"My brothers were really sporty, I could never compete with them," she recalls. "I enjoyed sports, but I don't think I excelled at any of them. My brothers will be great uncles; they'll be throwing the ball around with her in the backyard whether she likes it or not!"
In her early days of sports reporting, it was her cricket-mad parents she would turn to if she needed to brush up on her knowledge. But these days, she's got Martin, or 'Guppy' as she affectionately calls him, to run ideas past. The pair met when she interviewed him on The Cricket Show, and have been together ever since.
"He was the second person I ever interviewed for the show, and there was definitely something there pretty early on," she laughs. "He made me a bit nervous, and not many people make me nervous!"
Despite witnessing countless cricket games over the years, watching her husband in action at a high-stakes match still puts her on edge.
"It's difficult because you see all the hard work he puts in, you know how much it means to him, but there's nothing you can do to help. You just have to sit there and watch. I do see both sides, which I like to think helps with my sports reporting."
It's the baby, rather than the cricket pitch, that is most on her mind these days, but the ambitious broadcaster still has one eye on her future 'to-do' list. More children could be on the cards, more travel is a given, and more acting is certainly part of the bigger plan.
"One day I would like to go back to radio, or you might see me in a theatre production," she muses. "I won't rule anything out!"

Quick-fire question time

You're at a celebrity dinner. Sitting NEXT to you is…
Any member of the Spice Girls or Prince Harry
You arrive home late after a particularly stressful day. After kicking off your shoes and throwing your keys on the table, what do you do NEXT?
Put my trackpants on, a comfy sweater, and hair goes in a top knot!
What's NEXT on your reading list?
Save our Sleep by Tizzie Hall – all reading material seems to be baby-related at present!
If you could take time out to master a new skill, what would you learn NEXT?
I would love to learn to play the guitar.
After drinking more water, the NEXT best advice I've ever received is...
Control the controllables.
The NEXT item I would like to add to my wardrobe is...
Any type of pants that don't have an elastic waist...
After my phone, keys and wallet, the NEXT thing I always have to have in my handbag is...
Lipgloss!
Three wishes. You've picked world peace and a lifetime of good hair days. What do you wish for NEXT?
A happy and healthy baby.
For more, see the August issue of NEXT.

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