TV hostess and entrepreneur, Sofie Østergaard, has found her forever-home at Copenhagen-island, Amager, where she lives with her boyfriend, Sebastian, their two sons and a newborn on the way. And after ticking the box for her dream house, the only wish left on the hostess’ list is for a couple of squirrels to make the trip over to the island and set up camp by her walnut tree – then everything would be perfect.
Østergaard left college before graduation to cut her teeth as a professional dancer instead. A dancing studio in the suburbs of Holte later, a career within TV arose, and as with most opportunities in Østergaard’s life, she grabbed it because she wanted to. It is therefore no strange thing that she has been hosting TV programs for kids, seniors and everything in-between. Østergaard’s interests stretch wide and far, and she is ever grateful for the privilege to bring them all into her work.
Will you start by describing your home?
I kind of feel like this is my first real home after my childhood home even though I have lived in many places since then. I lived for six years in a house with my boyfriend and our two sons, but it was new-build and hard to make our own. This house just said ‘Sofie and Sebastian’ when we saw it. I had some really ridiculous demands like I wanted to be able to walk around the house. It became a criterion equivalent to how many rooms we wanted or the location. But you were able to walk around my childhood home, and we had so many fun games where we walked around. The house was built in 1897 so we have to renovate it with respect. It’s a very exciting process making it our own while preserving the history.
What gives you a feeling of home?
Space. And not in terms of square meters. Space for me is about the opportunity for your neighbor to drop by unexpectedly or that we can invite 20 people over to watch football. Home is a place where you can gather family and friends. There is just an atmosphere surrounding this house that makes me want to be here all the time. It means something to me to come home. When I enter through the garden fence I can just feel that I’m home. It’s hard to put a finger on but something just calms you and your shoulders drop. And we all feel like this. It’s amazing to experience. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t painted everywhere, or the kitchen is a half a century old and the roof is the original. That’s not what it is about.
You have moved to Amager, what do you love about the area?
We actually didn’t consider it much, but our intention was to move and find the dream house. We are both quite crazy about Amager as we know a lot of people living here already. We are from Jutland and people from Jutland live at Amager. Besides that, we are also attracted to diversity and you find that here. You will find all kinds of existences. Both the average and boring, the ones with more energy and those more left-field. It’s important to us that our boys grow up in an environment where they get to know all facets of human life. This is also one of the reasons why we have chosen the local public school because we don’t want to shield our kids from reality. The reality is like it is and it is great in many ways, and we have that here at Amager.
You also have a big garden. Do you have green thumbs?
Not more than everyone else if they tried. But I really love to garden. We have only lived here since November so it is funny to see what is coming up around the garden. We are surprised almost daily with something new blossoming. The only downside to Amager is that there are no squirrels here because it’s an island. I would really like a couple squirrels in my garden. I have spotted foxes and my neighbor has a hedgehog. I love animals in the garden.
What is the best decision you have made in your career?
To leave college before graduating. It just wasn’t me. I had got on a track where I was just following everyone else. When I look back I think it was really well done of me to choose what felt right to me. It taught me so much about choosing my own path even when other people don’t understand. I have used it in my career afterward where I have never been scared of trying something new. I have always kept at the back of my mind as my dad said: you can always go back if you need to.
It’s a very mature decision to make at that age…
I also remember some people being a little like: what are you going to do then, loser? But they obviously had a different set of values and goals from home. I just think it’s so important to listen to your own gut feeling. It gives you an enormous strength to dare to do it and getting the support from your family. Of course my dad wouldn’t have agreed to it if I didn’t have a plan or just wanted to sit at home and play on the computer. There has to be some sense in it.
Were you aware of the scale of the decision at the time or did you just go with your gut?
It is not until recent years it has occurred to me how big an impact it has had on my life afterwards. I think we all have an experience where we are like, if we can handle that, we can handle it all. This was definitely one of the first life lessons I really have brought along with me but I wasn’t aware of that in the moment.
Did you have to work harder to prove yourself?
No, actually. And it’s for the simple reason that no one in this world has bigger expectations of me than myself. I will think I’m a failure long before anyone else does. It makes it easier to commit mistakes. I think it makes me better at everything. It is not that I completely don’t care about what other people think, it’s just not a criterion for success to make everyone happy because that makes you kind of irrelevant in a way.
What’s your driving force?
I’m definitely driven by desire. I have met a ton of people along the way, and I have met so many who just want work to be over so they can get off. I have friends who would almost get pregnant so they can have maternity leave and not have to work. I get sick to my stomach thinking about people feeling that way when they spend eight hours a day on something they don’t want to do. It’s really important to me to love what I do. Of course there are less desirable duties but I try to outsource those. It’s been an important priority for me to hire people accordingly. It is not something everyone can do. I couldn’t either when I first started doing it but it was a priority so I worked hard to be able to. And in the end it has given me more time to do the things I really love.
Which parts of your job do you really love?
I am a very multifaceted human. For example, I really enjoy doing accounting as well. But some of the things I love the most is making television, radio, storytelling, and helping the people I interview tell their story. I have also always been interested in everyday economics and investments which I’m currently doing a radio show about. I have a dancing studio in Holte, which I love. I also love being the moderator on everything from the school’s chess day to public meetings. It's hard sticking a label on me, and I don't really care about titles either.
Have you ever experienced being restricted in your work?
I haven’t. But I think it’s because I do things I genuinely have an interest in, so it’s easy for me to just be myself. I have never been a figure or played a character. We all have different sides to us. We are not the same person talking to our boss as we are talking to our kids or grandma. So I’m just so incredibly lucky that I get to bring all my many sides with me into my work. There are sometimes people mentioning that I do TV for grown-ups now almost as if I have been promoted, when in fact children’s television is by far the most difficult thing to do as a TV host. I think you should be careful about defining yourself as one or the other. It doesn't make you better at it.
If we had a look inside your closet what would we find?
You would find a ton of color. I pretty much haven’t got any black clothing. You would also find a lot more dresses now that I’m pregnant. But I love colors, quirkiness and funny things. I love dressing up when I have an occasion. I love glam and glitter and making an effort, but it’s not important to me what it says on the label.
Do you have a maxim or anything you live by?
Something I live by a lot is to just do it. It’s very freeing. Sebastian and I also live together this way whether it’s been travels, investments, renovations or companies we have started, it’s always with an attitude of just doing it and seeing what happens.