With 26 years at Channel Ten – and most of them reading prime time news – Sandra Sully may be one of the most recognisable faces on Australian television. Her calm demeanour and authoritative voice are a welcome counterpoint to an often darker menu of current affairs. In the often fickle world of television, Sandra has proven herself to be both astute and adaptable, holding her position at Ten despite numerous staff changes. She has also risen above personal hurdles with grace and tenacity. In 1997 she was attacked by a stalker, and several years ago she revealed to Cleo Magazine that she had suffered a decade of workplace bullying – with advice that she hoped would help give strength to other victims.
We were welcomed by Sandra into her elegant apartment, which she shares with husband Symon Brewis-Weston, and her adopted step-daughter, Mia (11). Sandra invited us into her ensuite, revealing a minimal makeup regime and the one skincare brand she won’t deviate from.
“When I’m walking around, I don’t want to look like that person on the TV...
I’d rather go under the radar. I should pay more attention in being a girly girl, but that’s not really me. I’m outdoorsy, I don’t like wearing much makeup. I let the girls at work have fun and I trust them to do what they know what to do. Outside of work I wear just a tinted base.
With my hair I go to Neil Moody at Surry Hills, and I've been seeing him for about 12 years....
Trinity King at Ten mostly takes care of the cut and I've been going to Amy Jean for eyebrows for about 7 years. I think my comfort zone is to hunt down the experts I trust and like - and let them do their thing. You've got to have your clutch of the go-to people.
Dr Spiller is the best skin care brand I've ever used.
I’ve been using it for 7 years. I bought it for my twin sister and my husband. I really love it. I think it’s because it is oil-based not water based. That’s their point of difference. My skin doesn’t seem as dehydrated. I think most good skin comes from the inside as well. I do eat pretty well. I generally stay clear of processed foods and always have. I’m a big fan of vegetable juices. The Nanoblur is amazing, too.
I admit I am a News junkie.
I scan all the papers in the morning from home to find out what's going on and see what pictures are around and what stories have broken. I'm also a really avid radio listener. I go to bed listening to BBC and I love podcasts like Radiolab, Freakonomics, WNYC - NY public radio everyday and Stuff You Should Know and never miss Fran and Radio National in the mornings.
The hardest thing for me is switching off.
Journalism is such an addictive business and as much as you love it, you have to learn how to dial it down or off. You know, your family will just say, "Enough!" Exercise is my go-to break and I have always loved it. Fortunately, I live close to the city, so I can either swim or get out and walk the Botanical Gardens and the Domain. I walk to work three days a week and run on a treadmill regularly. Sadly due to injuries, I can't run outside anymore and miss that terribly. I still grieve not being able to run outdoors - I love nothing more! Pilates has helped a lot over the years. I have found an excellent studio where my teacher is a physio as well.
Growing up, my mum wasn't really into makeup.
She was always more focused on who you were as a person, your values and integrity. I learnt from both my parents that while we can all admire beauty, the most important thing is what's within and who you are. It's one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me - good values. My step daughter, Mia is a beautiful young girl, but I encourage people not to comment too much on her appearance. I try to remind her that she's a good person and not to focus too much on looks. That's what I fear for young women today, particularly in this 'selfie' obsessed new world. Young men and women are so self conscious and self-absorbed, it's pretty concerning and disappointing.
The key to staying power in the media is to keep an open mind, and always challenge yourself and try to keep evolving.
Change has been a constant in my life. I’ve had 25 bosses in 26 years. I constantly try to stay out of my comfort zone by challenging myself and finding work that stretches me; I write articles, do interviews, plenty of charity work and sit on the board of Hockey Australia. I also sit on the Walkley Advisory Board and pump out my digital Newspaper 'ShortBlack' twice a day. I try to stay engaged in things that are really authentic to me.
My best advice to avoid bullying is to diarise events, be courageous and speak up.
As a rule, don't engage in office politics, they're toxic, as well as a distraction and a waste of time. The main game should be about learning and being the best that you can be in the world that you are in. I waited 10 years [before talking about the bullying]....because I needed to sort it first and let the drama die down. I really wanted to stay at Ten, and I knew I could work through it. I chose to stay despite what was happening, because I saw more positives than negatives. Once it switches, then you should leave.
You've got to call out bad behaviour, from men and from women, straight away, (to their face) and preferably in front of peers.
Choose your timing and just say that it's inappropriate. I think it's about how you conduct yourself. The values you believe in, and your integrity. I'm not perfect and I make mistakes, but I'm really happy. I'm really loving what I'm doing but don't feel defined by it. It's not all I want to do but right now, it's my main job and I'll do it as long as I can."