Erin Molan is not only a bright and bubbly personality with a stunning smile and wicked sense of humour to match, but a true trailblazer and leader for women in sports journalism.
The 33-year-old’s passion and pride for her various media roles, most notably as co-host of The NRL Footy Show, was evident from the moment I started picking her brain on all things career at Rebel’s new Chadstone store launch.
With a significant social media following and presence on our TV screens the Sydney-sider was in Melbourne to host the Rebel opening attended by guests including Olympians Chloe Esposito and Mack Horton, footballers Scott Pendlebury, Travis Cloke and Moana Hope, and cricketer James Pattinson.
Erin positively relishes being at the front of the pack and her down-to-earth, open, honest and all round cool-chick demeanour made for a captivating interview that I’m thrilled to share with you.
What sparked your interest in sport?
I loved playing sport when I was younger. I’ve played netball, gymnastics, and volleyball, I loved it. Mum and dad were never overly into any football code but they were always really sporty themselves.
I think I just loved it because it was always something I associated with being really happy. When I started wanting to be a reporter, I looked at murders and car accidents and thought ‘God that’s awful’ whereas with sport it’s always positive, unless some player’s gotten into some stupid trouble at Kings Cross at 4am! I just loved telling stories and playing sport, it just fitted.
Were you much of a sports supporter?
I got my first job at channel nine about six years ago and they had the rights to the NRL, so I kinda thought if I’m going to get opportunities then I better get across rugby league. Then I basically learnt the game from scratch.
I became a Raiders fan and now I love it. I’m still learning but I basically had to sit down and say these are the rules and this is the game. I wasn’t brought up in a family that loved it, so it’s a fairly unique start to it all.
Was that more of a challenge then for you coming into a male dominated industry?
It’s almost because I’m female I’m held to more account. I sit on a panel with four other men, and they’re all ex-players and legends of the game, and if they say something wrong or silly it’s funny and if I say something wrong or silly it’s because I’m female and I don’t know the sport. I almost have to know twice as much.
My job isn’t to be an expert about ‘oh that fifth tackle option was horrendous’ – I do injuries, I know facts, I know stats, I host. For them it’s more opinion on the game and analysis.
I think I’ve earned the right a little bit now to be a little analytical but I still very much just stick to this is my job I will facilitate this panel, I will host it, I’ll talk about injuries, I’ll give the latest on team news, who’s in who’s out, I’ll talk about form heading in but I don’t get analytical because I’m not good enough to and I’m comfortable with that.
Was it hard to get into sport journalism without that sound base of knowledge?
As a journalist you don’t need to know everything you just need to know how to find out things and I’ve always been pretty good at that. I can do an interview, I can write a story, I can research, I can pull up sources and I can verify information.
I set higher standards for myself than anyone else ever will, but it’s the one or two idiots on social media that will say something nasty or say ‘You should be in the kitchen’ or you should do this. That’s what I found hard initially, now I don’t. Now I couldn’t give a flying you-know-what about it because I’m much more resilient and much stronger. I’ve been in this industry now for 12 years, I feel like I’ve earned the right and I’ve got credibility.
It’s much easier now but also because I’m female I get stories males wouldn’t get. Some mothers would talk to me that wouldn’t talk to the men, some players will open up about really personal issues that they wouldn’t with a male journalist. So it works as much to my advantage as to my disadvantage.
Has working with social media been more of a positive or negative?
Definitely a positive. I’m fairly active on social media and I find it brilliant in terms of putting stories out there, promoting stories that we’re doing and even communicating with players. I’ll send a twitter inbox message to Ben Barbour and say, ‘Can you do this interview with me?’ so in terms of communicating it’s brilliant.
There are negative aspects but if you can switch off and not take anything personally then it’s a really effective tool but it can also be a dangerous and horrible tool, it just depends on what state of mind you’re in. If it was affecting me that badly I wouldn’t be on it but for me it’s much more beneficial.
There’s plenty of fashion and feminine type of photos on your Instagram, how do you think fans take that?
I’ve got probably as many female fans as I do male, and I like to satisfy both. So I’m very comfortable with the fact that it’s a big mix of everything. I do the Footy Show and I get probably 100 tweets after each show saying ‘what are you wearing?’ so it’s easier for me now to put it out there. Plus I work in TV so I won’t get loaned clothes, I need eight different outfits a week, I do that many shows on channel nine, so it’s part of my job to get clothes loaned I need to put them out there so it works for everyone.
When I’m not working I don’t do my hair, I don’t wear makeup, I don’t do anything I look like a homeless bum. But when I am I’m happy to show photos of little babies, I’m happy to put up my fashion posts, I’m happy to show athletes. So I’m really comfortable with the mix and it seems to work for me, I’ve got a pretty good following and they seem to enjoy it.
They’re not mutually exclusive (femininity and sport) and it’s frustrating that people seem to think that it detracts somewhat from your credibility in sport, if you like fashion or you want to look pretty or you enjoy taking care of your appearance. I work harder and I always say this, people may have more talent than me but no one will ever work harder than me. While people are asleep I’m there reading every NRL article, 20 of them a day, and now I’m doing radio which is not just sport so now I’m reading every article on everything every day!
What’s been your biggest achievement to date?
Probably the charity work that I do and now that I’ve got a profile, making a difference with Bowel Cancer Australia. I’ve gotten a few awards for the amount of awareness that I’ve raised when my sister was diagnosed. That’s probably what I’m most proud of.
Career wise being the first female to host the Footy Show and I only recently became the first woman on 2GB Continuous Call Team, and that was a huge achievement. But just doing what I love and making a living out of it is pretty cool.
What advice would you give to women who aspire to get into the sports industry?
Develop a thick skin and don’t take things personally. I got 82 rejection letters at home from networks saying you’re not suited, you’re not good enough, you’re not this, you’re not that. Don’t get me wrong, I can be really insecure and can be anxious and I can take things to heart, still even now, but if I had I wouldn’t be where I am today.
You’ve got to be nice to everyone and work incredibly hard and be resilient, have a thick skin. Because people have digs at you and people will say nasty stuff about you, not everyone’s going to think you’re pretty and not everyone’s going to think you’re smart or articulate but you’ve just got to put all that aside and back yourself.
Know what you’re not capable of as well, like people always said to me, ‘will you commentate?’ no friggin’ way I would never be able to! I would never be good enough to commentate a game of rugby league and I’m really comfortable with that because it’s not my area of expertise. I couldn’t do it and it’s not a weakness it’s a strength that I can identify. I’m smart enough to know what I’m not good at.