David Whitehill can currently be seen as the co-host on Qantas’s flagship program Welcome, his travel reports reaching out to a captive audience of nearly 2 million viewers each week.
David’s broad experience has built some incredible foundations. Hosting Foxtel’s international travel series “Escape”, where he travelled to 13 different countries in the first series alone, has given David the perfect world experience and that special element of international appeal.
Yet as an unknown face, he claimed the Cleo crown with flying colours, rising above the likes of Kyle Sandilands, Brett Lee, and a long list of celebs. Adored for his down to earth charm, David (“Dolphin Boy”) is a natural talent with an obvious affinity with animals, an engaging and down to earth presence on screen, and a host of experience to back it up!
With crown in hand, David hit the ground running, and was quickly snapped up by the Nine Network. He went straight to work on the networks then flagship national children’s program ‘Hot Source’ and so began his career in television.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Oceans, animals, travel!
What is your life motto? Live large and get involved.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I started in the media world in 2003 while I was at Sea World. We did a lot of filming for movies, TV commercials and television shows and it gave me a taste of the industry. Becoming successful in television is a life long journey.TV is a tough game and just when you think you have it made, it gives you a great reality check. Shows come and go, and so do the hosts, so you need to be ready for the roller coaster.
How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? When you love something, the hours you put in don’t seem to matter. Building your skills, contacts and experience in TV is an all-encompassing project that takes years. The shows I’ve worked on and experiences I have had though make it all worthwhile. I’ve been working on a marine show/project now for over 4 years, and it’s still developing!
Describe how difficult the business really is? I think media is a game of ups and downs and being able to stay positive and focussed on where you are trying to get to. If you are looking for an easy ride, this probably isn’t the industry for you. Most overnight successes you hear of have taken 10 years to get there, it’s true. Having contacts is the name of the game. You can have as many degrees and courses under your belt as you like, but unless you have access to the right people making decisions you are a small fish in a big ocean.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Thinking it was someone else’s fault and responsibility for where I was. In reality, in all jobs it is up to you, and you alone, as to where you end up. You’ll attract the opportunities you think you deserve, and the people who will either build you up or bring you down. Ditch those people who have a negative affect on your piece of mind (don’t get confused with constructive criticism though). If you think you are going to be great, chances are you probably will be, you just have to stick with it.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Don’t burn bridges! You never know who is going to be your next boss or when you’ll need a helping hand, and if you start making enemies in the TV game you’ll feel it very quickly.
In your mind, is formal training essential? No. I came out of uni as a certified Accountant, moved into animal training, and now work as a presenter and producer in television and media. It’s about having a passion for what you do and being open to listening to the people who are already in the game. Training no doubt helps, but the real learning happens on the job. Absorb!
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Mentors are great because they have “been there before”. You’ll probably find that you will have many mentors in your working life and they could be your parents, your boss, your friend, your cameraman, anyone who’s opinion you value. In television it’s about showing commitment and passion to entertainment and you’ll find mentors will spring out along the way.
What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? Offer your services – for free. I know, it sounds terrible. Get in with the field you are interested in and show some dedication. The name of the game is to get in front of the right people, and be there when a position becomes available. If you are part of the system, even though it may be for free, you will have your finger on the pulse and opportunities will arise. Also time in front of the camera is invaluable. Practice in the park, at home, with friends, as the more situations you get used to the less likely you’ll freak out when the time comes to shine.
What kept you going when you felt like giving up? Thinking about where I have come from, what I’ve achieved, and being grateful for what I have been given so far. It’s easy to lose direction and energy, and every one does from time to time, but it’s about just sticking to your guns and being determined you’ll make it work. Also chocolate helps!
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? Being in the right place at the right time is definitely part of TV. You can increase the odds of that happening though by working hard so you’re noticed, being the best at what you do, and having a positive mind set so you see the opportunities when they come up. Grab them by the horns.
For more on David go to: Davidwhitehill.com