Angela Scanlon off duty
Stylist and TV presenter Angela Scanlon tells our man what it takes to make it London - and reveals the fashion faux pas that almost put her off her future husband
Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30
Perched on a giant velvet sofa in a private-members' club in Shoreditch, the hipster heart of London, Angela Scanlon is getting real about her life and career.
The diminutive Meath woman is now living with her husband in this city, but sees herself as a 'semigrant', one of a surprisingly large number of Irish who bi-locate, working between the UK and home.
And right now, her thoughts are on her younger sister, Siobhan, who is (as we sit down to chat) about to board a flight to Dublin, returning home after five years in the English capital. "I'm really going to miss her, the prospect of living in London without her is quite daunting," says Angela.
"She's my younger sister. But she was really anchored here when I first came over and that made a huge difference. I even slept in her double-bed, which I'm sure she loved. But I think she will be over and back. I really hope so, anyhow."
At least the sisters got to mark Siobhan's leaving with a girl's night out in Brixton.
"We went to this great dim-sum restaurant, all mood-lighting and great food, and then 11 o'clock came and a DJ appears out of nowhere and suddenly we're in a night-club. A bit mad - very London."
Angela's younger sister, one of the four girls in the Scanlon family, now runs her own business, The Peacock Bride, selling glam hen-night outfits and accessories. And although Angela says she's happy that Siobhan can run her business from Dublin or closer to the family home in Ratoath, Co Meath, it's clear it is hard for her to see her go.
"She says it might only be for six months. And I'm sure she will be over and back a lot. It's the way a lot of Irish are doing it now, we're very mobile."
The stylist and fashion blogger-turned-TV presenter is probably best known in Ireland for Oi Ginger! the show she did about redheads for RTÉ2 in 2013 and the two follow-up series, Full Frontal and this year's Close Encounters, which saw her hang out with well-known faces like the Irish pro-wrestler Sheamus and Dawn O'Porter, wife of Irish actor Chris O'Dowd.
Since moving full-time to London with her husband Roy (who hails from Mitchelstown in Cork) she has worked as the digital (or online) host for BBC's The Voice and kept her hand in with her first love, fashion. "I've worked on London Fashion week for the past four or five years, it's twice a year now, very full-on, a lot of fun and of course, brilliant if you are into fashion."
Sitting in the top floor lounge of Shoreditch House, the seriously trendy media biz hang-out in central London, she talks about her TV career with a refreshing candour.
Working on-camera in entertainment TV involves contradictions. You have to be very confident and extremely focused and determined to get on, but often have to act as if you are nothing too special and just lucky to be there.
And Angela readily agrees that as a presenter, she is very much in the business of selling herself.
"I'm quite direct in most things that I do. I've always been like that, to the extent that I sometimes have to hold myself back. But if it's an idea that I have come up with myself, if it's something that I know I can do a very good job on, then I will push myself and my skills and ideas.
"For instance, with Oi Ginger!, I had done a lot of stuff with RTÉ and TV3 as a contributor, mostly in a fashion space, and I came up with the idea as something I could put myself at the heart of.
"More and more, working as a presenter, that's something that you have to do, to come up with your own ideas, something that is authentically linked to you, that you then hope RTÉ or whoever will see the value in, and see that you are the person to do it.
"But working as a presenter, so much of it is out of your control. You are always pitching, always looking for gigs. But a lot of the time, you have no idea why one thing works and the other doesn't. You'll find some producers will just decide your face doesn't fit and there's nothing you can do about that."
Angela says it is a career that requires a thick-skin and the ability to bounce back from disappointment.
"If somebody decides you are not right for the gig or your ideas don't work, you can't get wounded, you can't just cower in the corner and give up.
"I pitched ideas for fashion stories to magazines for years. And it was often; "No, no, nope, next", or worse, just silence. Relentless is not the sexiest word to describe yourself. But I will say I am resilient. I don't wound easily."
For the moment, home is the Kingsland Road in north London, close to Hackney, in one of the livelier parts of the city. The local bar, run by two guys from Cork, is said to be Michael Fassbender's local - although Angela admits she hasn't seen the Irish actor sitting at the counter.
"I've heard he's always in there but no sightings as yet. But Hackney and the Kingsland Road are pretty full-on," she says.
"London's got that great energy and there is always something happening, around where we are, we have some of the best Vietnamese restaurants you'll find anywhere and a lot of bars and clubs.
"One of our local spots is this pretty lively bar where you have drag queens doing shows every night, and it runs very late, so it's always good for one last one on the way home."
Her husband Roy Horgan (they got married in Wicklow in 2014 before the move to London) has his own business supplying retail systems to shops and businesses and works between Ireland, London and the US.
They are happy in North London (despite paying "mad rent") for the moment and Angela says they have talked about having kids, something they will do "when the time is right".
But she says things almost didn't happen for them, thanks to a fashion faux-pas on their first date.
"We had met through friends in a bar in Dublin, and we got on pretty well. But we didn't actually go on our first date until six months after that. I was busy, so was he. And it was kind of just a friendly meeting," she says.
"So then, six months later, he gets in touch with me. And I was thinking; 'Jesus, he took his time, didn't he?'
"And then there were the jeans. That was almost it then and there."
Ever the fashionista, Angela says the boot-cut jeans - possibly the most heinous fashion crime perpetrated by Irish men to her mind - could have been a deal-breaker if it wasn't for Roy's winning ways.
"It was one of those first dates, when you are in no way thinking that this could be a big one. I remember being on my way to meeting him and I really had no expectations beyond having a bit of fun," she says.
"But it was weird, about half-way into the night, I suddenly started thinking: 'Wow, this guy is pretty amazing.' I think he was confident, but not cocky. A lot of fun. It turned out to be a pretty amazing first date."
Her own fashion choices tend to veer weirdly between the very chic (for work) and jeans and sweatshirts "during the day".
"I'm definitely a jeans and sweatshirt girl, fashion was my first love and I will still get excited about London Fashion Week, but this is how you'll see me most days."
In her TV career, Angela looks to women who have managed to slowly build, and maintain, a relatively high profile and steady work in a famously fickle biz.
"The likes of Zoe Ball, Claudia Winkleman, Emma Willis, strong, smart women who have built a great career, they are liked by audiences and still going great into their 40s, they are the women in TV that I would really respect and reference."
At 31, Angela realises that for women in TV, the age question is always in the background.
"Yes, there are always producers that will go for youth and look at anybody in their 30s and say; 'Well, she's too old.'
"It's tough, it's hugely competitive. So you have to be creative, you have to come up with ideas that you will be a part of, that will work to your strengths and personality.
"But I do look to the likes of Claudia Winkleman and see that there are lots of opportunities for women who are not in their 20s, who are very professional, smart, dependable. And who have a lot more to them than just youth and looks."
London is home and the future for Angela and her husband at the moment. She feels that she is only getting started in one of the great centres of TV production. And the city is still fresh enough for both of them to be able to enjoy the 24/7, high-energy buzz.
The holiday show Getaways, which Angela co-presents for RTÉ and BBC Northern Ireland, returns for a new series this month and Angela says it's a gig she still enjoys.
"Of course, it's not nearly as glamourous as it looks or sounds, you do get to go to some gorgeous places but a lot of it is us all stuck together in a sweaty van, rushing from one place to another," she says.
Her parents and three sisters will continue to follow her career from Ratoath, and be regular visitors to the Kingsland Road.
Home is still a big draw. While some nights might find her sitting in a drag bar in North London, Angela's thoughts do turn to the Auld Stand pub in Ratoath and what might be going on there.
It may sound a little over-sentimental. Or what you would expect an Irish person, especially one with a public profile, to say about missing the auld sod, the craic and a proper pint.
But for the hordes of 20- and 30-somethings Irish like Angela, living and working in London, it's a common sentiment. They find themselves in one of the world's great cities, with lots of career opportunities, loads of buzz and endless options when it comes to playtime. However, there is always the pull of home.
Angela expects to be in London for a while.
But like many of the new London Irish, ask her about the future and she will say; "Oh, we'll probably go home in a couple of years' time."
'Getaways' is on RTÉ1 on Thursdays at 7pm
Photographer: Conor Clinch
Stylist: Dee Moran
Styling assistants: Ruairi Horan and Jessica Edwards
Make-up: Carol Bicudo using SmashBox
Hair: Maurice Flynn
Shot on location at Russell's of Clapton, London. (0044) 797 666 9906, russellsofclapton.com.
Special thanks to Annette Russell