Watching Abbey Gelmi carve out a successful career combining her once-seemingly-disparate lifelong loves for footy and beauty feels like a step in the very positive direction of us all being able to thrive as exactly who we are. As a Channel 7 sports reporter by day and racing ambassador, event host and speaker by, well, also day, usually, Abbey is one busy lady, even when she’s not moving cities. The consummate professional was happy to go ahead with our shoot and interview even so fresh from her big Sydney to Melbourne move that she was entirely without furniture. (Although, happily, not without wit or warmth.) And even in these not-entirely-ideal circumstances, you could just tell she’s the kind of person you’d like to grab a beer with while you set the world to rights… and then borrow her lipstick.

“When I started working in media, it really affected how I saw myself when my everyday work life meant being in the makeup chair for hours, and always having the tan, the lashes and the hair.

I’d emerge as this finished product under the bright lights, but I went into it looking like a mole-rat! You start to identify with that shiny thing as being not only a real version of yourself, but the only version that is worthwhile, and you can fall into the trap of not feeling good when you’re out of it all. Now, if I’m not on air or at an event, I don’t wear a scrap of makeup. I turned 30 last year and I think getting older is playing a big part in my feeling more comfortable with myself.

There is a level of expectation within the industry to take care of yourself, but of course the way someone looks doesn’t tell you who they are.

I am privileged enough to be invited to beauty events, but I have never been truly moved by someone’s eyeliner, you know? (It might be a conversation starter, though!) If you’re genuine and quick to laugh, I will be interested in you. It’s not being a beautiful object that gives a good impression. The world of beauty is enjoyable and indulgent, but it’s a person’s inner qualities that stick with you. That’s not to diminish the power of beauty in helping along the way, though; a bold lip might make someone feel like, and therefore reveal to the rest of us, the best version of themselves. We all have a responsibility to make sure that we only project a version of ourselves that is actually real, though. Given the social media world we all live in, it takes more effort these days to make sure we do that, but I think we have to.

I love race day makeup, and as an ambassador for The Star Sydney and The Star Championships, I get to indulge my love of playing with a whole look.

I often work with the incredible makeup artist Michael Brown, and he will wait until we know exactly what I’m wearing before we decide on makeup, to make sure it all comes together; for instance, recently he did this great black wing, because I was wearing quite an edgy number, and the makeup really set off the outfit. I’ve always loved the creativity of beauty. When I was in about year 10, I started to think what I might want to do as a career. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do and was kind of toying with being a lawyer, and Mum was like, “makeup!”. As a makeup artist, you have the power to make people feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin. And we should all feel that way, in a perfect world, without makeup, but sometimes you need a little bit of something to pump you up and help you get through it all.

I grew up in Perth and lived there until I was 25. I’m part of a really close family of six, and was a bit of a tomboy, which I know might seem like a bit of a juxtaposition to my love of makeup!

When I started working in sport reporting, I found those sides of myself difficult to balance, particularly as my bosses said “pick a lane”, and were concerned with how they’d represent me. I think people now have more of an understanding that you can have interests which may not go hand in hand, but you can still love both.

I had a really happy, fun childhood. I loved sport, and I also loved watching my older sister getting dressed to go out. If she had a pimple, she’d turn it into a beauty mark just like Cindy Crawford’s, who we both thought was (and still is!) so beautiful. I have such good memories of early explorations of makeup with my sisters. Remember those eyeshadow palettes shaped like CDs? Another favourite early find was this miscellaneous glitter jelly that we used all over. And then I was also chasing my brother and constantly had dirty knees. We were all encouraged by our parents to pursue anything that made us happy. My parents are the most proud of me now whenever they know I’m happy.

After I finished uni, I felt a little bit lost.

I had always been someone who had been a high achiever and loved getting the badges and the gold stars. Then I got out into the big world and realised that type of recognition doesn’t just keep happening. It took me a while to find my pace again. I had to learn then, and have had to continue to learn working in media, that what I do isn’t what I am. What if this should this all end?

Well, I found out what that was like during COVID! I went from the busiest time of my career to date, to being told to “sit tight”. I mean, until then, my ‘local coffee shop’ was the Sydney airport lounge, where the gent knew my order. So everything just stopped, and it gave me time to think about who I was. I realised I knew that I was a kind person, I love my friends and family, I have my health, and that’s who I am. I think sometimes in the rat race of ‘achievement’, especially in an arena like media, which is very competitive, you can find yourself searching for the value in who you are in your jobs. COVID has been a really important time for me to reflect and to remind myself that who I am is about much more than what I do for work. I absolutely love my job and what I do, but I think I am the best version of myself when I know that doing it is a privilege, rather than just going through the motions, head down, thinking about what the next step is.

People who are in the public eye are still real people, and what you say to such a person can still cut through. I think you can assume that is true about anyone who lives any sort of public life (and I am lucky enough not to have a lot of interruption to my private life, but I see friends who do).

We have to be aware of how much our mental health matters, and how key the basics are, like taking the time to talk to each other properly, and to value kindness. Erin Molan is doing some really important work around accountability for what we say and how we behave, which I respect very much.

I talk for a living, but just like everyone else, I don’t always get it right. Let’s give each other some grace. I am super fortunate to have a lot of support and my interactions are all largely positive, so I see my platform as a space I can use to be kind to others. If we use it in the right way, social media can be a good place to connect, although ultimately I have to remember that a person who follows me on social media does not actually know me.

If I have a big event on, I definitely try and hit the hay early the night before.

I’m a sucker for a face mask to prep my skin for the next day. One of my favourite’s is Zoë Foster Blake’s Go-To Transformazing mask. I met Zoë at the Meccaland event in 2019, and (ironically, given my job) I don’t think I could even speak to her, I was so in awe. Her products just work. So if I go to bed having slapped a mask on, then I know I’m waking up the next day, fresh and ready. Then first thing in the morning, I will throw on Clarins Double Serum, which makes my skin sing. It’s an absolute constant in my morning routine, my little companion, so I take it everywhere with me (I would love to know how many bottles I’ve accidentally donated to hotels over the years!).

Then, ideally, it’s time for a cup of tea and a workout, though of course these things that are so good for us tend to go by the wayside as soon as we get busy, don’t they? I’ll go for a little run if I have time, though, and then I like to take my supplements. I’m using the JS Health Hair & Energy and her Skin & Digestion, and they actually work! (Jess has engaged people to talk about her line, but I don’t think anyone talks so earnestly about a product unless it really works.) ‘Perfect world Abbey’ would also mix up Vital Greens with collagen powder, berries and spinach. Then, best of all, the hair and makeup artists comes to the house to paint and play. It’s never lost on me what a privilege it is that getting me ready is someone else’s responsibility! For this Beauticate shoot, I got to work with Chantelle Baker, which was a dream. It’s so fun to see each artist’s favourite products in their kit, and hers was amazing. And they just paint differently to how we do!

If it’s a normal work day, things are a little more low-key.

I like to read the paper in the morning to be across sport news. It’s nice to be in Melbourne now, as the papers always reflect the footy, whereas it was harder to find that in Sydney. I like an actual hard copy paper – it feels like an old school journo thing. I know a an e-reader is better for the environment and the back pocket, but I just can’t get into it. I’ll read that while I’m having my soy latte, and then I’ll take time to look over notes our producers have sent overnight, and get the run down on what might have changed.

I am an SPF aficionado, and use it every single day. Mecca’s To Save Face SPF50+ Superscreen Oxybenzone Free Formula is my absolute favourite.

On a normal morning, I start my skincare routine with a cleanse in the shower; Clarins have recently done a Gentle Renewing Cleansing Mousse which I’m enjoying. I actually often double cleanse in the morning, even though I know most people say to only do that at night. With the amount of makeup I wear in the studio, even if I cleanse properly at night, I regularly wake up and still have residue, especially eye makeup residue, so I like to make sure it’s at least all off the next day. I know a lot of people don’t like face wipes anymore, but with all the spackle I have on I find the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes helpful at the end of each day to get the bulk off. I also like cleansing oil, and find just plain rosehip oil really effective. Now rosehip oil has become ‘a thing’, and is an ingredient in a lot of fancier cleansers, but I like a plain, basic version just fine.

I have always been lucky with my skin, but we all still want improvements and to try new products, don’t we?

I saw immediate results when I started using The Secret. I like that it’s tailored to exactly what my skin needs. It is a big commitment though, because there are very strong actives in there. You have to persevere through a few weeks when things can get a little hairy, which can be hard when you’re on TV! Ultimately, I like a simple routine, because as much as I would love to use multiple steps in theory, in reality I know it’s not going to happen.

When I’m at home in Perth, I love getting massages at Blanc.

If I have a big event and am in Sydney, I go to All Saints Clinic for one of their Hollywood facials. Dr Joseph is the best. I also go there for LED treatments and Laser Genesis. I haven’t been doing those for a while and am missing it – I’d love to get back there ASAP! I see Kristin Fisher for my brows and lashes. She and her team are amazing, but I also love to go there for the salon itself, which is total interior decorating goals.

If I’m not on air, my makeup routine is basically NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser.

It has such great spreadability, especially if I have just put on my serum and SPF; I just use my fingers to apply it. Then I add some Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting Pen under the eyes. It’s always in my bag, as it’s useful for all occasions! If I’m particularly tired, I might use a green- or orange-toned concealer underneath it, to counteract the blue or purple of my dark circles.

I love EyEnvy Conditioner, which is an eyelash growth serum. Using it is one of the best things I have ever done; I used to wear fake lashes and now I don’t need to. And given I just cannot do lash extensions, as I hate not being able to properly wash my face, this has been such a great solution. It is an expensive product, but it really works. I don’t need to do much to them now, but if I want to play them up more I do like both of the tubing mascaras by Kevyn Aucoin, The Volume Mascara and the newer The Curling Mascara, and his Eyelash Curler. For brows, I use Benefit Comsetics products – the Precisely, My Brow Pencil, 24-Hr Brow Setter Clear Brow Gel, and Ka-Brow! pommade.

For a daytime event, I try to keep the look quite fresh, so tend to go for cream products.

I love Mecca’s Hydra Cheek Tint and Illuminating Balm Duo, and Armani’s range of blushes and contours, Giorgio Armani Neo Nude A-Contour and Giorgio Armani Neo Nude A-Blush, are beautiful. I want everything to be very dewy. I think because so much of the makeup for work is powder-based, that when get to do my own I want it to be shiny! Seriously, after work I will duck into Woolies in full pancake makeup feeling absolutely crazy, so I try to avoid feeling like that in non-work life. I try to lean away from heavy contour and keep it a bit more fresh, and play up rosy cheeks.

If I’m going out, I’ll use Urban Decay Eyeshadow Palettes. My eyes are hazel and when I read that the Naked Heat Eyeshadow Palette would make them look green, I thought to myself ‘it absolutely won’t’. But they really do! Jade Kisnorbo, our makeup artist at Channel 7, does this beautiful copper eye look on me sometimes, and it really does bring out the green. I like to be playful with colour and with using different bits and pieces rather than always sticking to the same look, especially after having been so devoid of opportunities to put on a look at all in 2020!

I have gotten into running, and this year I somehow decided it would be a good idea to do a half marathon. I screamed it from the rooftops to try to bully myself into doing it.

I can knock out 10km now, which feels great. So far I’ve been running on a treadmill, so my biggest challenge will be actually getting outside. I always like setting and achieving goals, and find it helpful to do that publicly to friends (hence the half marathon rooftop screaming) and also just with myself. That brings me a lot of joy. I love Pilates, too, and am starting to get more into group classes, like CrossFit. It’s nice to be in a supportive environment, doing a small group class with other women, so I’m excited to get stuck into that more.

This past week I had to be in Sydney on Saturday, back to Melbourne for AFL and Olympics coverage on Sunday, and then was having all of my stuff moved into my new apartment just after I got back. Being kind to myself if I do have a week like that, where it’s just too busy to exercise, is equally as important as actually doing the exercise in weeks that I can. Life isn’t routine, so it’s unrealistic to expect to always maintain one. I am a perfectionist by nature, but am learning to find more balance as I get older.

Balance with my diet is also something coming a bit more easily these days.

I have gone through phases of being horrendously strict with what I eat and don’t eat, which a lot of us go through. It doesn’t lead to happiness, and is more likely to lead to great unhappiness. I don’t think it’s that helpful to share ‘my day on a plate’, because what’s right for me may not be right for you, and I know from my own experience how easy it can be to fixate on what we ‘should’ be eating. Flexibility is really important. I try to eat healthily, and always include veggies in a meal.

In this world where we are naturally comparing ourselves more and more, learning what health looks and feels like to you and being kind to yourself is huge, and that’s what I’m focusing on.

For me, being in a good routine lets me do my job well, be the best friend, daughter and sibling I can be, enjoy myself, and have enough energy to do the things I want to do. If you try to follow every trend, it never ends. You need to figure out what is right for you, and what really makes you feel good.”

Interview and story by Zoe Briggs. Photography by Neiyo. Abbey has paid partnership relationships with The Star Sydney, The Star Championships and Clarins.

Comment (1)

  1. June 4, 2021
    Luise

    Pink dress and blazer details please? x