January has come around faster than you can say I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and oh, that’s right jungle enthusiasts, the reality show is back for 2022!
Whether you love or hate the series that follows celebs performing intense challenges in the middle of nowhere, there’s a sure reason to tune in this year because MasterChef Australia favourite Poh Ling Yeow has been announced as the first cast member.
The news comes off the back of the 48-year-old’s recent stint as a host on Channel 9’s Snackmasters and Adam and Poh’s Malaysia in Australia on SBS, but of course, Australia’s grown to love her ever since she placed second on the debut season of MasterChef back in 2009.
Since then, we’ve come to appreciate Poh for not only her mind-blowing culinary skills, but her warm on-screen presence and willingness to get candid with us about the reality of growing up as a woman of colour – something we don’t see enough of on Aussie television.
As we get excited for some much-needed Asian representation on Channel 10’s I’m A Celeb this year, we take a look at three times Poh has so graciously got real about what it’s like to be a POC in Australia.
1. The desire to be “blonde and blue eyed” growing up
In 2020 Poh opened up about her desire to better fit in with her peers at school after moving to Australia from Malaysia at age nine.
“Growing up as a migrant kid I had so few role models,” she wrote in an Instagram post that coincided with a MasterChef Australia: Back To Win episode that featured all Asian Australian contestants competing in a challenge.
“I dreamt of being blonde and blue eyed, fantasised about having long legs and was ashamed of the shape of my nose and my face, but today we get to be this for anyone who’s ever felt on the outer. Thank you,” she wrote.
2. The career choice struggle faced by many children of immigrants
Cooking on national TV isn’t exactly a conventional job of sorts, and Poh previously spoke about the importance of setting an example for other POC who want to pursue a creative career but face familial pressures to follow a more traditional, academic path.
“I want to be an example to a new generation of Asian Australian parents to let them know their kids are capable of creating a diverse and rewarding career path out of their own choosing,” she told HuffPost Australia in 2020.
“Many Asian kids steer away from an artistic or creative career because there’s a lot of cultural pressure not to go there.
“So to those people, I want to say [that] I want to be an example that you can create a career out of something that you love, and don’t let that older generation pressure you into thinking it’s not possible.”
Prior to finding MasterChef fame, Poh studied design at university, then worked as a graphic designer, makeup artist and illustrator. You’ll still see her creating some incredibly breathtaking pieces of art shared on her Instagram account.
3. Using food to reconnect with culture
It’s only in her adult years that Poh has really had the opportunity to truly forge a strong connection with her Malaysian heritage after having “lost the language” and trying to fit in following migration to Australia. Food has been a huge driver in helping her reconnect with her roots.
“It’s been a little bit of a trek getting there in terms of learning how to make everything because we moved here when I was nine,” she recently told Refinery29 Australia.
“A lot of my slightly pre-MasterChef, and then during MasterChef and a little bit after MasterChef journey was really about reconnecting with the food of my culture because so much of that had been shed in an effort to integrate as a kid.”
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! premieres on Monday, January 3 at 7:30pm on Channel 10.