Canberra’s Samantha Harvey has quickly become a favourite on Nine Network’s latest season of Married at First Sight, not only because of drama with reality television husband Cameron Dunne, but also for her strong nature and ability to tell it like it is.
The 31-year-old single mother entered the show for a second chance at love after being cheated on by her husband of nearly 10 years and the father of her six-year-old and seven-year-old sons.
Now it’s hard for her to pop into a pub or supermarket in the nation’s capital without strangers asking for a photograph, but life was relatively normal for Sam before the show.
“I was going to the shops in my ugg-boots only a month ago and now I have to make sure I have make-up on!” she tells Region Media.
The successful entrepreneur is known in Canberra for her property development business, Milburn Estate, and online hair product range, Kaikora.
Sam told MAFS viewers early on in the series that she established the property business to escape her ex-husband.
“It was all great at the start,” she said on the show. “It was like the picture-perfect family.
“One day, when I had my baby on my hip and my toddler running around I was decluttering and discovered sim cards of lots of different phone numbers. That was pretty much the evidence of my husband cheating on me for more than five years.
“It was so humiliating. I packed a garbage bag, got the kids and was out. I think I had $1.50 left in my account.
“All I could afford at the time was the [worst] house you’ve ever seen in your life.”
In a bid to make that house liveable for her and her two boys, Sam jumped on YouTube and Google to learn how to renovate. This was how her passion for property development grew.
Now during the week, Sam juggles taking care of her boys, packing online hair product orders and managing property sales, but she says she’s always eager to get back on the tools.
“I much prefer being on the tools, but waiting on development applications to come through can sometimes take months,” she says.
“I’m working from home a lot at the moment, but I will be jumping on the tools to do this next one as it’s going to be very hands-on – more of a renovation-style development.”
Before entering the property industry and moving to Canberra, Sam was a country girl living and learning hairdressing in Eden.
“Growing up we had horses, motorbikes, would go waterskiing, camping, fishing and all those kinds of things I still do with my boys,” she says.
Sam still has a property in Eden, where her parents and grandparents live. And when she’s not on the NSW South Coast, she’s camped at the Cotter River with her two bush boys.
“I put my car into four-wheel drive and we go down to this really isolated part of the Cotter,” she says. “The boys love it and it’s my county fix while I’m living in Canberra.”
At age 17, as soon as she had her P-plates, Sam moved to Canberra to continue her hairdressing apprenticeship with Cataldo’s Salon.
“I found a share house and moved up here,” she says. “It’s funny because I’d never driven in the city, with traffic lights or anything. I didn’t even know how the pedestrian crossings worked because in Eden pedestrians give way to the cars. It was a huge shock. I nearly hit five people to begin with!”
Sam says she wants to meet a bloke with country values, so MAFS husband, Victorian crane operator Cameron Dunne, seemed the perfect fit.
However, while Sam felt something for him straight away, it hasn’t been smooth sailing since then, with the couple disagreeing about morals.
Now it’s rumoured that Cam cheated with another contestant, Coco, who Sam fell out with in the first episode when Coco questioned her relationship with her ex-husband, who was 16 years her senior.
“We had a bit of a scandal in the episode [that aired on] on Wednesday, 3 March,” says Sam. “It opened up a can of worms because things were said by two contestants and then they’re eating their words a couple of weeks later.
“In that situation, I’m very proud of myself and how I handled everything.”
As for Sam and Cam’s relationship since filming finished, the popular TV star says she’s still wearing her wedding ring so we’ll have to wait to find out more.