At 93, Emily Milligan (Silbery) is a beacon for women in midlife and beyond. Proving age is not a barrier, Emily is a star of the Reality TV show Gogglebox, and is now a author! This is her story.

I must have inherited the resilience that, as a very young child, I saw in my mother. Strength of character is often how we survive the challenges of life. It is debated as nature or nurture. I believe it’s both. I was very fortunate to have the memory of the strength of my mother always in my mind.

Emily Milligan (also known as Emily Silbery), one of the stars of Gogglebox Australia, is  93-years-young and the matriarch of the three generations of Silbery women. Close-knit, supportive and often cheeky, they have appeared on TV’s Gogglebox Australia since 2016, sharing their opinions and love of a good laugh. Emmie, as she’s affectionately known, never thought her life would turn out this way and she admits, she often has to pinch herself! During the course of Emmie’s life she has managed many challenges. 

Emmie, along with her daughter, Kerry, and her granddaughter Isabelle, launched their memoir, Out Of The Box, telling the stories of three generations of women. Becoming a TV personality in her 80s, Emmie has pushed back against the societal boundaries of ageism. At 93, Emmie can now add Author to her title!

Tell us about your background?

I was born in Mildura, the youngest of seven growing up in a shack on the banks of the Murray River. Orphaned at just eight years old, I was separated from my siblings and sent to live with an aunt in Tasmania. This was a terribly traumatic time during my earlier years. I studied to be a nurse, looking after polio patients but was caught having a nap on night duty so was fired.

I ended up working at the local car dealership as a telephonist where I fell in love with the love of my life. I married at 21 and had five children, of which three survived. We moved to Melbourne and after many ups and downs financially, my husband left me for a much younger woman. I was heartbroken and financially broke but with the help of my children, I put my life back together. I am now a proud Grandma and Great-Grandmother. I live with my daughter Kerry and I continue to participate in community activities to keep my brain active and physical-fitness-healthy.

What led you to where you are now?

I’ve spent my whole adult life in the traditional role of caring for my family. It wasn’t until I was in my 80’s and reluctantly ended up on Gogglebox that I actually found my voice. When Isabelle told me that I was going to be on TV I was shocked and initially declared that there was “no way” I was going to do that. But after she explained that there weren’t any women of my age represented in mainstream media I had a rethink and agreed, not realising what an impact this would have on me and on the viewing public. What a ride it has been!

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about knowledge. I’m a curious person and truly believe that every day we all have the capacity to learn something about ourselves and the world we live in. I love reading and have read about 50 books through the Covid period of lockdowns. The pandemic has been particularly difficult for older people like me, needing to be isolated from others to protect our health. I have an unquenchable thirst for engaging with humanity. I love talking to people and hearing their stories. Everyone has a story. I’m also passionate about David Attenbrough, I love him!

I’ve spent my whole adult life in the traditional role of caring for my family. It wasn’t until I was in my 80’s and reluctantly ended up on Gogglebox that I actually found my voice.

A person writing on a book

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What advice do you have for other women 40+ who are wanting to make an impact in the community?

Just say yes to all the opportunities that life throws at you. Find your voice. Resist all self-doubt and the attempts of others to make you invisible and irrelevant. Use your wisdom and demand respect. Grab the negative, derogatory terms used about older women such as “crone” and “sage” and twist them into the positive and be proud. Women of our age can get things done!  Our time on this planet is precious and we all need to make it worthwhile. You are NEVER too old!

You can keep following Emmie and The Silberys here: