Privacy in Julia Zemiro’s DNA

She's avoided Who Do You Think You Are? So why did Julia Zemiro agree to DNA Nation?


She is one of SBS’s most recognisable personalities, but Julia Zemiro has so far declined all suggestions to appear on Who Do You Think You Are?

This weekend she joins Ian Thorpe and Ernie Dingo in the new series DNA Nation which, while it bears similarities, doesn’t require her to delve into her immediate genealogy.

“I haven’t done it. It’s a cliche but it’s not my story to tell because it involves my parents. And my parents don’t want to be on television,” she explains.

“It’s like writing a book about your family. It’s not all your story to tell -it’s part of your story to tell- but I believe the less people know about you the better sometimes. You remain a bit mysterious and a bit interesting.

“I don’t tweet what’s happening personally in my life. I think that when I’m ready to do something like that I’ll do it.”

But she is full of enthusiasm for the science-based series following in the footsteps of their ancient ancestors, and guided by experts in genetics, anthropology and archaeology. The series will take them to Africa, the Arabian desert,and Kyrgyzstan as they trace the journey their ancestors made from Africa to Australia over 200,000 years ago.

“It was incredible! We filmed in June last year for six weeks. We knew we were starting in Africa but we had no idea where we were going next. We had a bunch of injections but even our doctors couldn’t tell us where we were going, or what countries they were for,” she says.

“All three of us would begin in Africa but then depending on our lineage would split at some point.

“Our geneticist John would Skype and say ‘Right you’re off to Israel or Turkey.’

“I won’t tell you my final location but it was absolutely not what I expected.”

Producers kept the three from knowing what was next on their journey in order to capture their emotional reactions.

“It was great because we were so in the dark and hanging off each other thinking, ‘What’s happening now? What are we doing now?’ We’re all the same boat so it made a nice camaraderie between us,” she continues.

“We’re usually presenters! We were all going ‘Do you want us to present anything?’

“But they said, ‘No, we just want you to experience it.’ That was the challenge I think for all of us.”

In the first episode the trio encounter a primal Hadza tribe in Tanzania and an archeological dig in Turkana Basin, Kenya.

“It was absolutely extraordinary. To be there at the digs, what a privilege. You can’t go in there unless you’re working there. So to be in there, working and discovering things are not holding skulls in you’re hand. It was unbelievable.

“I feel like I gave quite a bit in DNA, but you’re not talking about your grandmother you’re talking about ancestors. Although I did bring my dad into one story.”

Meanwhile the Eurovision hostess is also appearing on RocKwiz for SBS and has recently drawn an ABC audience wth Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery. The prospects for more Home Delivery sound good -fitting them into her hectic schedule may prove to be the bigger challenge.

“I hope so, they rated really well this year. I did 2 Home Deliverys in one year and it was kind of tiring so I’m hoping if we do them again it will be with a new energy,” she says.

“What I love is the people get in contact with me and say ‘You should do this person.’ I love that people are coming to us with people they would like to see, because that’s kind of the whole point.”

DNA Nation airs 8:30pm Sunday on SBS.

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