After shocking Studio 10 viewers on Friday morning when she announced she would be leaving the show to support her family, Jessica Rowe is feeling the love.
“Today is Friday! Friday is rose – and new beginning!!! Thank YOU for all your beautiful messages of love and support,” the 47-year-old journalist posted on Instagram.
Rowe’s last day on air will be on March 30.
“It’s something that I need to do. It’s as simple as that. [Her husband and Nine news anchor Peter Overton] and I have spoken a lot about this over the past six months and it’s weighed on me because this is a job that I love. It’s the best job I’ve ever had on television. It is family and it’s been a job that has allowed me to find my voice and my courage again and I will never ever forget that,” she said live on Friday morning’s show.
“I’ve decided to leave Studio 10 and why I’ve decided to do this decision, it’s been a very hard thing for me to do, but it’s because my family need me. And I, as I said, it’s been difficult. I want to be more present, I want to be a more present mum for my girls, Allegra and Giselle. They need their mum and I want to be there in the mornings for them, take them to school, do canteen duty – heaven help them with the sandwiches.
“Most importantly, I’m just looking forward to being with my family and being present for them and doing the best possible job that I can. I love you all.”
This move marks the next chapter in what has so far been a wide ranging and headline-making career for Rowe.
From her start in media as a receptionist to her infamous ‘boning’ from Channel Nine in 2007, let’s take a look back at the moments of Rowe’s career that helped define her as the refreshingly honest, stigma-breaking face we’ve enjoyed watching on Studio 10 for four-and-a-half years.
How Jessica Rowe’s career in media began.
The Sydney-born mum-of-two got her start in television as a receptionist for Channel Nine’s Nine’s Wide World of Sports program. She worked her way up to the position of news presenter in 1996 at Network Ten.
There, she anchored Ten’s evening news for ten years before returning back to Nine to join Karl Stefanovic as co-host of The Today Show, replacing Tracy Grimshaw, in 2006.
Being ‘boned’ by Eddie McGuire from The Today Show while on maternity leave.
Following the birth of her eldest daughter Allegra in 2007, then station boss Eddie McGuire allegedly threatened to “bone” (or fire) Rowe from her role while she was on maternity leave during a meeting with executives. This was stated in a sworn affidavit issued at the time from Nine Network’s former Head of News, Mark Llewellyn.
“I recall after having a meeting with various lawyers who told me they were ready to muscle up for a fight, I had a six-week-old baby at home. I remember coming home, I was all dressed up in my armour of makeup and business suit, and I remember lying on my front lawn while my mum patted my head because I felt like my world had fallen apart,” Rowe said of that time in an interview for Mumbrella360.
“I was being encouraged to ‘step aside’ because of the ‘challenges of motherhood’, and I very angrily rallied against, but I knew that I did not have the emotional energy or capacity to fight at that time. There was a big part of me that felt like I was letting my baby down.”
Rowe eventually left Today in citing ‘pay disputes’. In an interview with Mamamia in 2015, Rowe told Shelly Horton she still despises the term ‘boning’ and what it represents.
Post continues after video.
“I hate it, I still hate it. I’ve got a good sense of humour but that’s the one thing I can’t joke about. I think it’s a really demeaning sexist awful term, and I don’t like to be reminded of the time of my life it applied to,” she said.
“It was really bizarre, I look back at that time in my life, it was such a strange strange bubble to be in the midst of, an awful bubble.”
Rowe said her form of revenge was muting McGuire, following Allegra’s wishes, when his show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire would came on after her husband’s Nine News report.
“My dearest eldest daughter Allegra would say, mummy, we better mute him, let’s mute that man, that man wasn’t nice to you,” she recalled.
Rowe’s return to TV on Channel 7.
Rowe worked in various roles at Channel Seven following Nine, including as a news reporter, and as a presenter on Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise.
She also appeared as a contestant on Dancing With The Stars in 2007.
Waking up with Rowe on Studio 10.
Rowe joined Studio 10 at Network 10 in 2013 alongside Ita Buttrose, Joe Hildebrand and Sarah Harris.
Breaking the stigma of mental illness with her memoir, Is This My Beautiful Life.
Rowe was ten when her mum Penelope was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. In an extract from her memoir Is This My Beautiful Life Rowe described growing up with her mentally ill mother as "a lifetime of rehearsals for putting on a brave face".
"The smiling, happy mother I knew in the waking hours was so different to the woman I heard behind her closed door once the stars had come out to brighten the night sky," she wrote.
"The pattern of her illness was first, the mania, then the irritation and then the stone statue. Sitting in her specially upholstered blue chair, she appeared frozen as she stared at the new couch and dirty cream wall. My sisters and I would leave her there in the mornings after trying to tempt her with a cup of tea and Vegemite toast. When we returned in the afternoon Mum would be sitting in the same spot, barely registering when I kissed her soft cheek, her tea cold and the toast untouched on the coffee table. It was like our mum was no longer there, just a shell."
Rowe was also awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for her mental health advocacy. She has worked with Lifeline, SANE Australia and the Mental Health Council of Australia.
How Rowe became the most relatable mum on TV with her blog, Crap Housewife.
Rowe started her blog Crap Housewife to document her "amusing tales and misadventures as a working mum, crazy wife and terrible cook".
The same qualities are reflected on her Instagram - like the time she wore pyjamas to pick her daughters up from school and tried (and failed) to cook dinner for her kids.
Rowe's public experience with infertility and post natal depression.
Rowe's openness about her experience with infertility and post natal depression are examples of the important work she does reducing the stigma around mental illness.
In Is This My Beautiful Life, she recalled wanting to scratch off the 'Baby on Board' stickers that seemed to be on the back of every car in front of her at the traffic lights as she and Overton were undergoing IVF treatment.
"Everywhere I looked there were babies. Mums nestling their newborns in slings wrapped across their chests, twins in strollers, mobs of mothers pushing their prams along the footpath while I stepped into the gutter to get around them or to get to the barista at my local cafe. ‘Baby on board’ stickers were on the back of every car that stopped in front of me at traffic lights. I was tempted to drag my keys across the paint of family wagons with those white stick-figure images stuck on the back window," she wrote.
Rowe also described her experience with post natal depression as "like the pain of glass slowly coming in between me and everyone around me," in a 2015 interview with Mamamia.
"That was very frightening like me who's always been very present. I remember there was this retched clock I'd look at all the time to time the breastfeeds, I used to think what if that clock fell and smashed her on her head," she said.
"Then I'd think about the knives in the kitchen drawers and how easily they could cut her, and it was so scary because these thoughts kept going around and around in my head. One time I wrapped up all the knives in newspaper and threw them in the bin, I felt like I was losing my mind. It was so out of whack with what is happening."
Rowe's next move to leave Studio 10 to focus on her family is, as far as we know, one she has again made on her own terms.
Thank you for brightening up our screens with humour and honesty, Jess. It's been our pleasure.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please seek help from a medical professional or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
You can find out what a day in the life of a crap housewife looks like with Mamamia's interview with Jessica Rowe below.
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