Grant Denyer reflects on his role as a father

'I want to show my girls what's possible'

By Zara Zubeidi
He's at the peak of his career, but for Grant Denyer, his biggest achievements rarely come without sacrifice.
The star's presenting duties leave him limited opportunity to enjoy family time with his wife, Chezzi, and their two children, Sailor, seven, and three-year-old Scout. Nevertheless, Grant is determined to be there whenever possible.
"My greatest concern is not being able to observe every single waking moment with those growing little monsters," Grant, 41, tells TV WEEK.
"Time is going so fast, and they're evolving so quickly in front of my eyes. I don't want to miss a thing – and as a parent, my greatest paranoia is, 'Am I focusing on work too much?'"
Since winning the coveted TV WEEK Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian TV and Most Popular Presenter for Family Feud in July, the star has launched his latest series, Game Of Games, alongside Ash London.
He's also prepping to co-host – with Amanda Keller – the revamp of Dancing With The Stars in 2019.
Grant believes you should inspire your kids to live their biggest dreams
It's unsurprising, then, that Grant considers every moment he spends with his family at their farm in Bathurst in country NSW as sacred.
"The girls understand Daddy comes home and he's sometimes tired, or he might need a nap or go to bed early," he says.
"In the hours we're together, we muck around, jump on the trampoline, play with the dolls' house or run outside with the dog. We ride quad bikes together; we go on little adventures."
"I'm deeply protective of ensuring that we have a balance, because it's not a game you want to get wrong. It's about making that time count."
Grant and Chezzi pride themselves on being open about the challenges that come with parenthood.
Chezzi, 38, frequently voices her battles with her followers on social media, and has an online platform, Mummy Time, which shares "the good, challenging and hilarious bits of motherhood".
For Grant – who says he and Chezzi make a "great team" – it's other men in his own industry who have helped provide an insight into how to juggle showbiz with being a dad.
"James Cameron [the Hollywood director] said something once about whether you should just give up and focus on your kids once they come along, or whether it's better to show them what's possible," Grant explains.
"You should inspire your kids to live their biggest dreams and show them what hard work can produce."
Comedian and radio star Hamish Blake, who has two children with wife Zoë Foster-Blake, has also taught Grant an invaluable lesson.
"I heard him talk about the '75-year-old theory'," he says.
"When you're 75 years old, do you really want to look back and say, 'I wish I'd put my phone down'?
"I constantly put myself in 75-year-old Grant mode and think, 'How would I look back at this moment?' I'm more conscious about the time I have and where I dedicate it – I know I can't get those moments back."
"It's my mission to make memories for my beautiful girls and to set them up as best as I can – whether it's how to treat people, how to look after themselves mentally or to find fun in everything they do."
Grant hosting Game of Games.
While Grant is mindful of how much work he takes on, he says he's extremely thankful for the opportunities he's been given over the years.
"I'm lucky to have had a career that has lasted this long," he concedes.
"I cherish these opportunities, they're a real blessing."
But he says it's his time on Dancing With The Stars that established his career as an entertainer.
"I don't think I'd still be in television today if it weren't for that show," declares Grant.
"I'll always have a soft spot for it. It took me from being one member of an ensemble of about five or six people on breakfast TV to a standalone person. I was on my own two feet."
"From there, I was given some of my biggest gigs, like It Takes Two and Australia's Got Talent. It was my graduation in the industry and I'm looking forward to bringing the next crop through."
Grant with daughters Sailor and Scout
Aside from spotlighting Grant's talent, he genuinely enjoyed busting a move on the dance floor.
"It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life," he says.
"Dancing to Singing In The Rain was one of the most glamorous, unexpected things I've ever done. It brought my grandma to tears. Everyone was so proud."
And teaming up with Amanda for a new spin on the hit series is just the icing on the cake.
"Amanda is a funny lady and a great human," Grant adds.
"The prospect of working with her was too good to refuse. Because we've both been on the show, we can support the contestants; we know what they're going through."
As for which celebrities Grant would like to see strut their stuff, his first pick, surprisingly, is Schapelle Corby.
The Queenslander, now 41, was released from a prison in Bali in 2014 after serving nine years of a 20-year sentence for smuggling cannabis into Indonesia.
"These shows are perfect for redemption," he explains.
"Look at Casey Donovan and what the jungle did for her [the 2004 Australian Idol winner won the 2017 season of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!] or for Brendan Fevola [the former AFL footballer led a troubled life off the field for some years].
"Or Shannon Noll [the singer has faced legal troubles, including drug charges this year] – Australia has a soft spot for him, despite having a bump or two along the way. It's captivating to watch someone develop."

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