Each week the Herald's entertainment team asks a different celebrity to share key moments in their life and career. Today, James McOnie.

My first job was…

picking up hay in a place called Oparau, near Kawhia. I was 15 and I loved that job.

It taught me… that there are two brake pedals on a tractor, gloves are a good idea and that beer tastes better when you've earned it.

My big break came… when super-journo Paula Penfold asked me to be a "social commentator" on Breakfast on TV One back in 2002. I'd sit on the couch and talk about the news of the week. Co-host Kate Hawkesby was brilliant - she'd run with any gag.


The last job I quit was… working as a sports writer/sub-editor/film reviewer at the Sunday Star-Times in 2004. I immediately regretted it because the people were great, and I really missed the free movies. However, I'd worked there every Saturday for a long time and had missed plenty of club rugby games and friends' weddings - both equally important.

The most famous person I've ever met is… Well, I've played touch rugby with Taika Waititi (he's quite handy by the way), but I guess it's either Sandra Bullock or Charlize Theron. Charlize and I hit it off, I gave her a CD of New Zealand music, and she gave me twice the allocated time for the interview.

The best time I've had on set was… I remember the All Blacks had just lost a test match and we announced it as a state of emergency [on The Crowd Goes Wild], with camera operators running around in mock panic, lights flashing and sirens going off. That was a good day.

But the worst was… after the Christchurch mosque shootings.

My dream role would be… running a small business in the south of France or, failing that, coastal Waikato/King Country. Vive la difference!

• James McOnie will co-host the red carpet coverage of Kiwi sport's Oscars, the ISPS Handa Halberg Awards, from 6pm on February 13 on Sky Sport 3. Awards coverage starts at 8.30pm on Sky Sport 3 and Prime.