How Madeleine West found love again

“I am my sexiest when I am just being me.”
Loading the player...

Madeleine West is the poster-woman for re-launching. In just a few short years, she’s gone from possessing what looked like a picture-perfect life, to something much more authentic to her: days spent planting trees in the northern NSW hinterland.

WATCH BELOW: Madeleine West on TV interview following split with husband

The other stark difference marking her before and after is her relationships.

While Madeleine was once married to high-profile chef, Shannon Bennett, who is a MasterChef regular, she’s now dating environmentalist Maximo Bottaro, who fits perfectly into her Byron Bay life.

Madeleine, who made a name for herself as an actress on the Australian small screen, has recently begun to open up more about how she hit reset, left her marriage, and changed her life for the better.

Madeleine in 2000. (Credit: Getty)

Madeleine’s career as an actress began in the early 2000s, when she starred as Dee Bliss on Neighbours for a three-year period.

While she left in 2003, Madeleine did return in 2017 to play Dee’s twin-sister, Andrea Somers, in a continued storyline.

However, she kept very busy in between. Starring as Melbourne underworld figure Danielle McGuire in the 2008 show Underbelly, and going on to join the casts of Winners and Losers and House Husbands, Madeleine made a name for herself in TV.

While her acting career was growing, though, so was her family.

Madeleine first met Shannon at a dinner for celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in the year 2000, but it wasn’t until after she broke off her engagement to another that the pair took up together.

Madeleine with her former partner, Shannon Bennett. (Credit: Getty)

They became a couple in 2005, and welcomed their first daughter, Phoenix, the same year.

Phoenix was soon followed by son Hendrix, and two more daughters, Xascha, and Xanthe, but the couple put their foot down in 2013, telling the Herald Sun that they didn’t want any more kids.

“You can be tearing your hair out one minute and the next they wrap their little arms around you and suddenly everything’s OK and the fury dissipates … We were done two kids ago, but destiny had other ideas. They’re all wonderful and a blessing, but four is quite enough,” Madeleine said.

However, destiny indeed had other ideas, and the pair gave birth to twins, Xalia and Margaux, in 2014.

Madeleine with her twin girls. (Credit: Instagram)

At this point in their lives, the pair were living in a Toorak mansion. While Shannon continued his work as a high-profile chef, Madeleine expanded into commentary around parenting, and often took to Instagram to share her lunchbox hacks and other advice.

She also published her first parenting book in 2017, Six Under Eight.

However, in 2018, it all came apart. Shannon and Madeleine separated, resulting in the selling of their Melbourne home.

“Cracks can form, and things we don’t necessarily plan in the beginning can happen,” Madeleine told Stellar Magazine in 2018.

“We’re not currently together. We’re striving to reconnect as friends and parents, but who knows what the future holds? As a family we’ll continue to split our time between Melbourne and Byron Bay,” she confirmed.

“Having a public profile, having two high-pressure careers, having a multitude of children – and I will say they are a lot harder to train than dragons – it puts exponential pressures on a relationship.”

(Credit: Getty)

The end of her marriage sparked a change in Madeleine, and the time she’d eventually refer to as hitting ‘reset’ began.

She did away with her blonde locks and moved to Byron Bay full time with all her kids, where she still resides today.

She took up an interest in environmentalism and got ready to get muddy as she began hands-on work planting trees.

Living as a more authentic version of herself, Madeleine began to find herself all over again as she entered her 40s.

Madeleine has had a serious re-set. (Credit: Instagram)

However, there were things she had to re-learn, especially when it came to sex.

“I’ve done a billion sex scenes for work, and yet I was terrified,” Madeleine told the No Filter podcast about when it came to sex after her separation.

“I started to envision how to perform like a woman half my age. Will they Google me, see the type of TV shows I’ve done and expect me to be like that highly performative sex scene?”

However, after her first experience post-split was admittedly not that great, Madeleine went through a bit of an awakening

“I am my sexiest when I am just being me. I’ve birthed six children, I look after my body, I’ve worked hard in life – and ever since that realisation, I’ve enjoyed it ever since,” she admitted.

(Credit: Instagram)

And she has since fallen in love once more.

“He knew absolutely nothing about me. Why would you think you’d find an actor who is associated with wealth and luxury standing on the side of muddy rainforest hill, wearing work boots and ready to muck in?” Madeleine said of the way she met Maximo.

“The way he carried himself was so attractive. Seeing his passion and self-belief was key,” she added.

While Madeleine does keep her children and her partner out of the spotlight, she has shared one rare snap of herself and her man, planting trees together, epitomising their peaceful Byron Bay existence.

“The way he carried himself was so attractive.” (Credit: Instagram)

Want your own fairytale love story? Sign up to eHarmony today!

Related stories