Before I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here star Toni Pearen entered the jungle, she had been out of the spotlight since 2008.
The mum-of-two put her career on hold to parent her children — son Lucky, 11 and daughter Ever, eight — with her husband, Will Osmond, before stepping back into the spotlight on this hit TV series.
For Pearen, the former host of Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, going into the jungle taught her that she had stopped believing “in her true potential”.
“I’d really forgotten what it was that I actually enjoyed doing before I had kids,” Pearen said in an interview with The Latch.
“I forgot how much I enjoyed doing what I was doing. I learned so much about myself and that I can overcome most things, that I can just roll with the punches and to just be me and to not be afraid to be vulnerable to speak out when you need help”
As for her children, Pearen was able to show them that she was “strong” and “her own woman, away from being their mum”.
“I wanted to show them the thrill of doing something that scares you and then coming out the other side a better person for it,” she said. “We all get scared with things in life, but to walk through it and get to the other side and feel those emotions, you surprise yourself and you’ll be a better person for it.”
Of course, I’m a Celeb is the perfect platform for Australian celebrities to be stripped bare and to show who they really are, and for Pearen, the response from her fans was overwhelming.
“The responses I got from the general public, you know, women reaching out to me saying, ‘You’ve inspired me to be myself’…it’s not what I imagined. I don’t know what I imagined. It just exceeded all of my expectations.”
After Abbie Chatfield was announced as the reigning ‘Queen of the Jungle’, fans took to Twitter saying that Pearen should have won and was “robbed”.
“You know, it’s all down to voting. I got home and everything was in its place so I don’t think I was robbed,” Pearen joked.
“Abbie is an incredible human being and I think she was so brave and so brilliant and I loved every minute in the jungle with her. I’m just a mama bear and one of my passions is nurturing young talent and I can see her potential and I know that her winning is exactly how it should be,” she said.
“She has such potential as a performer, as a person and as a role model and I think it should be her. It was her and it was always will be her.”