We chatted with new Real Housewife of Melbourne, Anjali Rao, and she wants you to know that she is “different to every other Housewife who has ever been on the show.” Find out why!
How did you end up living in Hong Kong?
I was born Hong Kong. My mum was born in Bendigo, country Victoria. My father was from Bangalore in India. They met in Hong Kong and I was born there. Hong Kong is my absolute heart. I have 35 years all-up living there. Whenever I moved away, I’d always come back. Hong Kong will always be home to me.
While working in Hong Kong, you interviewed some huge names, like John Travolta and President Bill Clinton. Do you have one interview that stayed with you most?
Gosh, there’s so many. That was while I was at CNN. I had two shows. One was the Monday to Friday breakfast programme and the other one was my weekly celebrity chat show – both of those were to 220 million homes around the world. So, the thing that most people knew me for was my chat show because I’d drill down really deep into these really famous people.
It’s really hard to go past the Dalai Lama, obviously. And I suppose it’s timely now to mention my most viewed show ever – I didn’t know why this was – my most view one was Kobe Bryant. We just absolutely adored each other straight away. That doesn’t happen with everybody. It’s a rare thing. He was absolutely amazing.
I also loved Karl Lagerfeld. It’s really hard to say because there were so many incredible ones. There were also ones that, uh, really pissed me off, but I’ll save that for the show…
What brought you from Hong Kong to Melbourne?
I resigned from CNN because I felt like I’d done everything that I could do in my six years there, and I was the only anchor that had two shows across the network. I just thought, ‘You know what? I’ve got an Aussie passport!’
Also I was married, at the time, to a guy from Melbourne. Not that he wanted to come back. He was happy gallivanting around the world. I said, “Look, there’s loads of TV opportunities back in Melbourne.” And, yeah, there were. But you kind of have to be… not what I am.
What would you say you are?
Well, I’m brown, I’m female and I have an English accent. And they just don’t require any of those things over here. I did not know that before I moved over. I just thought, you know, Australians are Australians and that’s all there is to it.
I’ve had an amazing career in TV news. All of the stories that I’ve broken – the Asian tsunami, the death of Michael Jackson and Pope John Paul, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the 7/7 bombings in London. But no, they don’t require that. It’s been rough. It’s been really rough.
So what led you to the decision to be on RHOM then?
The news to me was always the most real of reality television, but I’d obviously never done anything like this before. It’s a scary thing putting yourself out there when the news tells you to be straight down the middle, do not emote.
But it was something that really stuck in my head from when my dad. He died when I was only 5. He used to always say, “Opportunity always looks so much bigger going than coming”. I focused on that and went, “Oh my god, let’s do this!” I love to wear my Sunday best everyday of the week and also just the chance to meet these amazing other women.
Were you a fan of the show? Any of the other franchises?
I was! I dipped in and out of seasons 1 and 2. To be honest, I’m not an addictive personality and I was worried I was getting addicted, so I stopped watching for a while. Certainly, when I travelled around the world, particularly in the States, I’d switch on and see Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or Atlanta – I love that one – I kind of can’t turn away. I have to watch.
So then, do you think you’ll emulate any specific Housewife? Will you be the Nene Leakes of your season?
Ha! Hell no! I wouldn’t even know how to do that. Absolutely not, I’m just going to be me. I’ll do the things on the show that I would have been doing anyway.
Is there anything you want the audience to know about you going into this journey?
So, I believe that I am – actually I know that I am – different to every other Housewife who has ever been on the show, for a multitude of reasons. I did have it all. I had it all when I was at CNN. I’m not even joking.
I had three yachts and a boat boy and four club memberships and a housekeeper and my little boy had his own maid. I had all of that. I come over here.
I’m right back at the bottom, clawing my way back up. I’m not doing too badly considering its only seven and a half years.
I got divorced, ended up a single mother of one child. Basically, when my TV news career in this country fell on its arse, I had to build everything up from the very beginning. It really has been so difficult. I’ve done it all on my own. I don’t have any family here. It’s just me and my little boy and that’s it.
It’s about just starting all over again. I don’t have a rich husband. I don’t have a rich ex-husband. I don’t have any husband. It’s just me trying to make a go of it. That’s what I want them to know, that there hasn’t been one like me before.