EXCLUSIVE: Approaching her 60th birthday, Amanda Keller talks self-image, kids and what’s next

''I'm ready for a third act.''
Loading the player...

It’s impossible not to love Amanda Keller. In the middle of answering a question about whether she’s become more stylish as she’s grown older, she stops.

“Sorry, one sec,” she tells TV WEEK over the phone. “I’ve just spilt water all over my pants. It looks like I’ve wet myself. So that’ll be nice for filming.”

No matter how many years she fronts hit lifestyle show The Living Room (nine, and counting), no matter how many TV WEEK Gold Logies she’s nominated for (two, and counting), there’s still a tiny bit of the daggy teenage schoolgirl in Amanda.

And she’s not trying to lose that.

Amanda isn’t slowing down any time soon.

(Credit: Paul Suesse)

“I’ve still got my diary from when I was a teenager and it was filled with somehow wanting to work in the media,” she says.

“I often use that as a gratitude touchstone for when I’m tired and cranky. I think, ‘I’m so lucky to have a job on radio and TV, all the things that would have absolutely blown my 15-year-old mind.'”

It was Ray Martin who recognised Amanda’s on-screen potential when she was a segment producer on Midday in the 1980s and suggested she do some stories.

“Good old Ray,” she says.

“They were stories like this woman who would dress up her cats like Liberace and Elvis Presley. When I see myself on camera in those early days, there was no grooming at all involved. My hair looked like I’d just got out of bed, I had giant ping-pong ball earrings, enormous shoulder pads.”

Amanda with her co-stars on The Living Room, Miguel and Chris.

(Credit: Network 10)

From there, Amanda’s career path took some surprise twists: award-winning reporter on science program Beyond 2000, then comedy regular on Andrew Denton’s show Denton. She battled self-doubt along the way.

“Every time I think, ‘I wish they hadn’t asked me, because now I have to do it,'” she admits. “And then I’m thrilled that I do it.”

After almost four decades in the media, with a long-running breakfast radio show on WSFM as well as The Living Room, Amanda is at the top of her game. Still, she says, it’s very easy for her to feel like “an imposter”.

“Have You Been Paying Attention? is a brilliant show and every time I go on it I think, ‘Oh, I’m not as good as those guys.’ So I never ever feel I’ve conquered anything.”

In her personal life, Amanda has just passed a huge milestone: her younger son, Jack, has turned 18. Older son Liam is 20 and studying at university in Newcastle.

“It’s just a great thing for him to grow up away from us for a little while, even though I call him every day,” she says.

“I’m probably nagging him constantly: ‘How are you going? What did you have for dinner last night?'”

As for Jack, he’s in his final year at school and planning a media career.

“Jack would be great at my job, on the radio. But there are so few of those jobs these days.”

With Jack also intending to leave home to study, Amanda feels her sons’ childhoods have gone by “in a flash”.

“I’m getting very mushy when I see toddlers at the beach or I see parents with a six-year-old and a four-year-old. I think, ‘What I’d give for a day of that again!’

“Just a day of them needing to sit on your lap, needing to hold your hand, needing you so much… that’s exhausting at the time and beautiful at the time. I really miss it.”

Amanda and her artist husband Harley Oliver, who she met when he was a producer on Beyond 2000, have been married for 31 years. She hopes her sons have learnt “relationship skills” from them.

“I hope they’ve seen in my relationship with Harley two people who love each other very much but can be tired and cranky with each other and might have words but then make up. We’re not big fighters but I’m a bit of a sulker and Harley probably is as well. But I hope they see that we resolve all of those things.”

Amanda takes “great pride” in having had such a long relationship with Harley.

“He’s always supported everything I’ve done. He was home when the boys were little, because I had to get up early to go to the radio, so between the two of us, we’ve really made it work. It’s not a perfect relationship, by any means, but it suits us.”

Next February, Amanda reaches another milestone: her 60th birthday. She says when she looks in the mirror, she feels “mostly happy” with what she sees.

“Mostly because I choose to be,” she adds. “There have been times when you look in the mirror and you grab your stomach and you go, ‘Oh my God, look at that!’ Whereas now I think, ‘You’re almost 60 and you’re doing okay.'”

She says she doesn’t shy away from being 60 “in any way”.

“I feel really lucky that at 60 I’m busier than I’ve ever been, professionally. But a lot of my friends are saying the same thing: looking for a third act. Our lives just aren’t over at 60.”

So what would Amanda like in her “third act”? Some more writing – she’s already put out two books – and acting.

After nine years on The Living Room, the team have grown incredibly close.

(Credit: Network 10)

“I loved Julia Zemiro in Fisk. I just thought that series was brilliant. Or Utopia. Those kinds of shows. Even a serious one.”

Amanda feels grateful for the opportunities she’s had, but there have also been “hard yards”.

“There have been years of IVF for two children, there have been years of turning up at jobs that were difficult or stressful. So I’ve loved the ride – it sounds like I’m about to cark it, doesn’t it? – but I’ve worked at the ride as well.”

WATCH BELOW: Amanda on Tom’s Gold Logie win.

Loading the player...

Related stories