Let Me… Entertain You!
Yes, I am quoting one of my favourite Robbie Williams songs, it’s a perfect fit and no better way to begin my story.
Entertaining has always been a strong passion of mine and to be involved in the industry is a dream I have nurtured ever since my first Joanne McGuinness modelling course, around the age of 17.
What followed were fashion parades and other events such as Ladies Lunch at the ‘Snooty Fox’ (a popular venue in North Adelaide).
One of my proudest and memorable moments was when local radio station ‘5AA’ selected me to play Princess Diana at their annual Gala Ball, where I was seated in the balcony next to a charming Prince Charles (albeit, a much better looking version LOL), and our role was to perform the royal wave to guests.
5AA’s Gala Ball was a charity fundraising event strongly supported by the community. Adelaide’s glamorous night of nights media coverage included a lavish spread in ‘The Advertiser’, an opportunity for me that led to further modelling with the newspaper.
During this time I ventured into aerobics to help keep in shape and enjoyed it so much that I started training as an instructor, and later teaching at the ‘Olympian International’, one of the top gyms operating at the time.
Teaching 6 to 8 classes a day with up to 80 students a session and weekend shifts at the silver service restaurant ‘Braesteads’, along with modelling gigs, didn’t leave much time for a ground breaking aerobic competition about to come to Adelaide.
Our cities first aerobics championship, it was to be held over two days at my gym and involved the talents of around 100 participants who each had 3 minutes to perform a routine, that many had been practicing for up to 6 months.
Unfortunately, being quite busy had left me little time to choreograph my routine and before long the first day of competition was upon the unprepared me, forcing an adlibbed performance that won myself a spot as a finalist in the top 10.
Happy with what I had achieved the previous day, imagine my surprise when the final 3 were announced and I had taken second place, missing out by only one point.
With championship success, came further modelling opportunities, appearances on morning television shows and an instructor position at my brother’s aerobic center ‘Just Aerobic’, an appointment I needed to commute interstate for.
Life was great, aerobics and modelling were keeping me super busy, but I wanted more television or film opportunities, so I enrolled in acting classes with Ann Peters and was then fortunate enough to land extras work in various TV commercials and films.
Interstate travel soon became a thing of the past when I decided to relocate to Melbourne, where I lived for a few years and continued modelling. Then everything changed after both my parents were badly injured in a car crash and I needed to return to Adelaide.
Out of every tragedy comes something good.
It was fate, as on my return I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams Joe Di Geronimo. We started living together but it wasn’t long before I fell pregnant and gave birth to our first beautiful daughter, Maria.
Modelling and aerobics were soon to take a back seat to another passion of mine, fashion. I enthusiastically began managing my own boutiques business and found it most rewarding.
Years pass, and the Di Geronimo family was to increase it’s membership with the news that I was pregnant with our second daughter, Bianca.
Shortly after I was approached with the idea of me entering the ‘Miss Adelaide Beauty Pageant’ along with up to 500 other contestants, of which only 100 would be selected for the finals, and from those, 10 finalists would progress to the final crowning on event night.
After discussing with Joe the possibility of entering the pageant, his support convinced me, that even though I was only recently pregnant, it was going to be a great experience no matter what the outcome.
To cut a long story short, I ended up being selected as one of the 100 contestants to progress to the finals, but I really wasn’t expecting to make the next round due to a heavily pregnant look I was now sporting.
Finals night arrived, Joe and myself sat patiently as the MC individually named which 10 finalists were selected to attend the pageant’s final crowning ceremony, that was to be held at a televised gala event.
As the ninth finalist was called, I was over being uncomfortably pregnant, so I whispered to Joe “let’s slowly sneak out, it’s almost over and they won’t call me up anyway”, he agreed. I then went to stand and to my surprise I heard a familiar name, it was mine and I was named pageant finalist number 10.
OMG! I hadn’t expected to get this far, a quick reality check confirmed that the babies due date and pageant gala night were around the same time. My big question was, which event would arrive first?
The countdown to Gala Night began and with only 3 days to go, Bianca decided it was her time to enter the world, and I became a mum for the second time.
In the afternoon, Channel 7 kindly sent me a bouquet of gorgeous flowers, congratulating me on the birth of my beautiful baby girl. They had been supportive of me throughout my pregnancy, so the least I could do was attend their big night.
With only days left until the pageants gala event kicked off and I hadn’t been discharged from hospital, let alone organised a dress. But my determination got me there and even though I didn’t win, I felt like the biggest winner of all that night.
Months went by as I settled back into my role as a proud mum, but my boutiques fashion business, teaching aerobics and managing a household, didn’t leave much in the way of free time for other things.
Joe and I are all about family, so we decided that the best way to spend more time as a family, was to manage his concreting business as a team and together we made ‘Prestige Foundation’ the success it is today.
We enjoyed life and loved socialising with friends and family, planning and hosting numerous parties. At these events I enjoyed putting on a floor show for my guests, it was always such a blast.
Fast forward to 2016, when Joe and I returned home from a Cruise to the exciting news that Maria was pregnant with her first child.
What timing! Channel 7 was developing a new reality tv show (titled Pram Wheels and Heels), around a group of pregnant women from cities around Australia and potentially wanted Maria to be involved.
Showrunners then arrived in Adelaide to set up a meeting with Maria and she asked me if I would go with her due to my previous experiences in the entertainment industry.
After finding out more about the show, I could see family involvement was a big factor and suggested that my other gorgeous daughter Bianca come along to support Maria as a family package.
She was exactly what the show wanted, Maria impressed the producers and as I expected, Bianca was asked to appear. It was so exciting! Then to my surprise, they offered me a role also.
Filming was a buzz, Yummy Mummies was an awesome experience my family and I will never forget. Channel 7 were absolutely fantastic to work with, they were open to creative ideas, and treated us with love and respect.
During this time I also reached a personal milestone by turning 60, sixty years young. My party (which appears on YM) was crazy fun, entertaining and performing for all my friends was a high like no other.
But the highlight of Yummy Mummies, the real star in my heart was the cutest baby ever, Valentina!
My brother Shane also contributed to the show, writing a song that celebrates Valentina (played on YM episode of her birth). A music video was naturally produced, staring myself and Maria performing alongside Valentina, with the vocal talents of Robby X, we had so much fun.
After the success of ‘Valentina’, Shane (and friends) penned the song ‘Margherita’. It celebrates my love of life and making the most of every moment, proving you are never too old to give it go.
Music video too I hear you say? Of course, and what a location too! My brother had secured an unbelievable property to film the clip at, a 10+ million dollar mansion situated right on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Featuring the awesome vocals of Robby X and Thony Remy with Grammy Award Winning Guitarist Louie Shelton, the end result was amazing, everyone had done a stellar job on the video which far exceeded my expectations.
After the experience I was inspired to finally take singing lessons, enrolling with Shine Singing Studio. My teacher Rachela, was so encouraging and supportive, I’d always wanted to be able to sing well but never had the confidence to try.
Passion is a strong motivator for me, even at 62 you can still ‘give it go’, why not.
Everything to gain and nothing to lose, is how I tackled my vocal training, part of which involves you performing a song of choice, at the end of year open mic night. Well I chose ‘Margherita’ of course and by all accounts my performance was a success, so next year the goal is 3 songs.
What does the future hold for Yummy Nonna?
Doing the things I love… Getting involved in television projects and tv commercials is in my future, hopefully more reality TV work too, it’s trashy but it’s fun.
I also want to get involved in self improvement seminars and motivational speaking, to encourage others that even after 60 years old you can still live your dreams.
Thanks for reading, have fun x