Ever since Waleed Aly stepped foot into the TV Week Logies arena last year, it has been an experience of mixed emotions for The Project host.
True, he did emerge victorious in 2016 with the Gold Logie and Best Presenter Logie, but as he did, he also endured a storm as his nominations were questioned by some, throwing a range of thinly-veiled racist vitriol his way.
And some of that storm also continued in the wake of his golden win.
So when Waleed arrived on this year’s Logies red carpet, he admitted he was in a reflective mood about the support he received.
“I actually get quite emotional as I remember it, recalling all of that,” he said.
“There were a whole lot of people from this industry - people that I'd never met - who were willing me to it. I think that's a moment that very few people get to experience.
“What it meant more than anything was the warmth that I felt in the Logies room last year.”
Waleed, 38, walked this year’s Logies red carpet with his stunning wife Dr Susan Carland by his side, and later took out the Best Presenter Logie for the second year in a row.
He admitted he was well aware that many people saw his wins as a victory for broader representation of multi-cultural Australia on TV, but he had a simpler point of view.
“Well, with any luck it just means that this is normal - that it becomes unremarkable, which would be great,” said the Melbourne-born presenter.
“But I think last year, because of the scuttlebutt, it was a sense of it being historic in some way, that a non-white person could win it, which was not really the way I thought about it.
“A lot of that conversation at the time just meant that it was a bit of difference, and in the Logies room, they were ready to embrace the moment. And that was so lovely.”
While the dad of two has in the past acknowledged the support his wife has given him since starting on The Project in 2014, calling her “sharper and wittier and infinitely more charming”, Waleed said the past year of ups and down have been a good lesson in how to roll with the punches.
As for the critics, Waleed confessed, “I tend not to engage that stuff because mostly I think it’s irrelevant. The reality is I have a job to do, I do it and then you just keep turning up. Sometimes for things that are on the outside to get to you, they have to be worthy of being taken seriously.”
He then adds one final quip, “And I just laugh!”
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