In our story series ‘How Are You Today?’, we have a meandering, mental-health focused chat with some of our most well-known New Zealanders. Check out previous chats with people like Hayley Holt, Roseanne Liang and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Today, we chat to Hayley Sproull.
You’ll know her face. Or her voice. Or potentially her moustache. Hayley Sproull is New Zealand’s Jack of all Entertainment trades, popping up on tellies, radio airwaves and phones across the nation with her signature brand of self-deprecating humour and joyous approach to hosting. Chatting to Capsule from her tangerine-hued lounge, she talks about her latest project, fronting the third season of the oh-so-pure-but-oh-so-naughty The Great Kiwi Bake Off and everything else that’s whirling around the world of Hayley. Spoiler – it’s a lot.
Capsule: First of all, How Are You Today, Hayley Sproull? And secondly, Jesus that is a wonderful shade of orange you have on your wall.
Hayley: [Laughs] Thank you, it’s amazing eh. We’re very eclectic, my partner and I. When we moved in here, we were like, let’s go crazy. The hallway is peach, the bedroom’s pink!
But yeah, I’m good! I’m post-lockdown getting back into work, back into studio for Have You Been Paying Attention and back rehearsing for another show. I thrive when I’m busy, so in lockdowns I get stir crazy. In saying that, I was like, ‘I’m so over lockdown’ but when I got my schedule back, I didn’t want to go! So, I’m a little scattered, actually.
How was it being in a bubble with just your partner?
Yup, us sitting in our little house – I found it a lot harder than last time, and I think everyone did. The lack of motivation and the general tiredness gets pretty frustrating because it wasn’t like I didn’t have stuff to do!
That New York Times story about languishing really encapsulated that feeling, didn’t it!
God yes. When I read it I was like ‘ah. I’ve been languishing.’
Your partner Aaron did look like he was a pretty pro cocktail maker though, just based off social media.
Oh my God, so we’re normally just wine drinkers, you know – I don’t know what started it. We knew how to make a margarita, but then it was like, what else can we make? So then it was whisky sours, martinis, then espresso martinis. We bought all this liquor and made a little cabinet. The one thing I did learn though is that you can’t have that many pina coladas before you feel sick.
Speaking of great lockdown content, I also saw you took your followers on a real journey the other day with some live facial waxing – how’s that gone for you?
[Laughs] Yeah, it was a two-day journey of me trying to remove my moustache. I started with hot wax beads, then eventually reverting to the hot wax strips. I did notice this morning that I have a somewhat inflamed patch of skin under my nose, but apart from that it was eventually a success.
I mean, it’s relatable content – I know you battle with PCOS, and it’s one of those things they don’t tell you about as you get older as well. Like, as soon as you hit 30, it’s chin hair.
I’ve always dealt with it because of the PCOS and I used to get really embarrassed about it, but then I was like no, wait – every woman has this in some way, shape or form. I have no shame around it at all. And also, I feel like so many other comedians were putting out content during lockdown and I had no motivation to even engage online. So I was like, this’ll be fun. Might as well share it.
Amazing. Take that, Chris Parker.
[Laughs] Exactly – your turn to wax your upper lip, Chris. It was amazing, the first video had like 500 people watching it, and then when I did the second one, people were like, ‘No, wait! I’m walking the dog, can you save the video?’
Now you’re getting back into the swing of it, it feels like you’re everywhere – from Have You Been Paying Attention, The Great Kiwi Bake Off plus all the other stuff you do. You’re kind of like a female Dominic Bowden.
I mean that as a compliment!
[Laughs] I get what you mean – someone rang me yesterday to remind be about something I said I’d do but I haven’t done – classic – and he said, ‘Look, I realise I’m talking to the busiest woman in the industry’ and I was like, ‘am I?!’ and then I realised yeah, I’ve been pretty busy!
Yeah, you’ve got a real juggle on your hands here.
And I think I’d probably feel quite exhausted by it if all the things weren’t so different – like the theatre show, the comedy, the hosting. The variation, for me, keeps it total maintainable. It’s a lot of hours but you’re constantly changing so you’re never restless or bored. But if it’s the title then long may it last!
And it really does feel like The Great Kiwi Bake Off is the show we all need right now!
Don’t get me wrong, I love your Love Islands and your gossipy shows, but Bake Off is a show that’s just so good. It feels right – everyone’s a bit down and a bit vulnerable and it’s just the most happy, lovely, feel-good show.
Did you set out to be a host?
That definitely wasn’t the plan to be honest – I went to drama school and I got a degree in acting. I moved to Auckland [from Wellington] and got into comedy and writing for comedy, and Bake Off was kind of my first big hosting gig. I loved it – I just got to be myself and I get to be in charge, which I really enjoy! I think it’s just part and parcel of being in the entertainment industry in New Zealand – you just have to diversify and go with it.
And you dipped your toe into the radio world when you filled in for Megan Papas on ZM’s Fletch Vaughan and Megan earlier this year – how did you find that?
The whole experience was pretty incredible for me. Obviously I was really nervous, anytime you’re covering for someone, you’re always braced for people to be like ‘ew, I don’t like her!’. But the response from the ZM listeners was so overwhelmingly good. I couldn’t believe how nice radio listeners were.
I do have to say, over my years of television now, you get some horrible comments, especially being a woman. You get Instagram, Twitter comments ALL THE TIME for no reason – you’re not funny, you’re not pretty, blah blah. I expected it to be the same, and it just wasn’t. It was really nice.
How did you find the whole idea of having to share a huge amount about yourself and your personal life?
Strange. But also, I’m pretty shame free these days [laughs]. A few years ago, I probably would have held back. But I’m so much better at my job if I’m not trying to filter myself. Obviously with live radio some filters are required – a couple of times I’d say something and I’d see Fletch and Vaughan go ‘ahhhh!’ and I’d be like, ‘shit, what have I done?!’ but I’m just a very open person these days. My body, my experiences, my partner, my mum – it was all out there!
God being shame free and giving zero fucks sounds pretty great. Do you think that’s something that comes with age, too?
It’s so freeing. I remember everyone saying in my early 20s that I wouldn’t care about this stuff in my 30s and yeah, it’s so true. Every year I get older, I give less and less shits about what people say.
They reckon the 30s are a pretty good decade – and things seem like they’re going pretty well so far?
Yeah, I mean I’m 31 so it’s early days! But I definitely think so. Being at the stage, and it’s definitely not true of everyone, but at the moment my life is kind of going the way I want it to. I have a great partner, I love my job. A lot of the little things don’t bother me so much anymore, because I have the big things that I love.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.