When Elyse Knowles’ face graced the screens on The Block‘s Sunday night premiere a few weeks back, she wasn’t the kind of reality star who was new to fame nor attention.
Granted, the TV kind of fame was new, but the bright lights of the camera and the keen eye of loyal fans certainly weren’t.
Knowles, who has carved out quite a place for herself in the Melbourne – and, well, international – modelling scene, has 643,000 Instagram followers at last count. Her followers know her face and career well. They aren’t, however, as in tune with her personality, or her real and genuine knack for renovating.
They may be now.
The model and her carpenter boyfriend of four years, Josh Barker, first applied for The Block a few years ago, and despite her considerable profile even then, didn’t manage to make it through the audition process.
“When we previously applied, we hadn’t renovated our own house yet. So we found it hard to show what we could do, even though we knew we could do amazing things,” Knowles tells Mamamia.
“Three years later, we tried again and showed our talents, and we were very surprised to have made it.”
If there was one thing Knowles is clear on, it’s that she and Barker weren’t given a free pass on to the show, just because she has a considerable social media following in her wake. The audition process was rigorous, she says. They had to “really work hard”.
Fortunately for the young couple, skeptics needn’t be skeptics for long. Photos of their own home renovation were shown on the show to an overwhelmingly positive reception, and the first bathroom reveal saw the couple take home the very first week of competing.
You can read Mamamia’s recap of The Block bathroom reveals, here.
Knowles said she had no doubt that before being able to show their skills, many Block fans would be “judging a book by its cover”.
“It’s fine it happens, but winning the first week proved why Josh and I were there and I really don’t think people knew what we could do. We are the youngest in the competition.”
More than anything, it was the stress and the intense nature of the competition that floored Knowles the most. There’s not a lot, she says, that can prepare you for that.
“The amount of stress you put your body through, I had never done anything like it before. The mental strength you need is crazy, and your body needs to be healthy.