'Never again will I visit a new mother without bringing some food or doing some washing' - Angela Scanlon on her new chapter
Many things come to mind when you hear Angela Scanlon’s name: her famous mane of red hair, her meteoric rise to television success and being famously sound in an industry of not always sound people.
Scanlon (34) has always been a bit different and its that uniqueness that has made her the BBC’s new darling with gigs on Getaways, Robot Wars and Radio 2 and the face of Garnier. She’s officially a force to be reckoned with.
But these days, her main focus is her adorable 12-week-old daughter Ruby, a chubby cheeked bundle of joy whom she shows glimpses of on her Instagram, but proudly shows on shoot day.
Last time I met Angela must be nearly seven years ago, I was still relatively new to the industry at the time and she was just as nice then as she is now, a geniune rarity.
The day of our interview is her first day back at work, a morning shooting for Frank & Honest’s environmentally friendly campaign, and she tells me how motherhood has changed her for the better.
“It’s good, it’s an absolute whirlwind, everyone warned but I don’t think you know really. It’s been mental. I’ve been mental, on occasion. Everyone warned me, if you’ve been warned and you take that warning seriously...my sister has three kids so I’ve seen it firsthand and tons of my friends have little babies,” she says.
As she adjusts to this new chapter in her life, Angela is treating it with the same searing honesty as you would expect. And she’s developing an ever deeper appreciation for the women in her life.
“I did a podcast recently for a friend of mine called Giovanna Fletcher and I wanted to do it when it was fresh in my mind. I listened to women like Davina McCall and Emma Willis, women I know and admire, but they’re out of that brand new mother stage,” she tells Independent.ie Style.
“I would have loved to have listened to something when I was right in the thick of it to get a sense of what rollercoaster it is. It’s been unbelievable the response. If you know how difficult it’s going to be, you can somewhat prepare.”
When I ask if her she’s been tempted by the lucrative ‘mummy market’, she says her public approach to motherhood is more altruistic: she simply wants other news mums to know they’re not alone.
“For me, it’s less about that and more about this whole other group of women that I now relate to in a different way. I have a massive, newfound respect for and love for women. I didn’t know it was possible that I could worship women more than I do,” she laughs.
“Two of my sisters came over a few weeks ago when I was in the thick of it and she was cooking, doing stuff and I just said, ‘I’m so sorry for being absolutely useless when you had your kids’. I’d come in and take the baby, that’s the easy thing to do - have a little snuggle with the baby then I’m off.
“Never will I visit a new mother without bringing some food or doing some washing. You’re not there to be entertained, you’re there to make yourself useful. I feel like I’m already much more protective even though I’m completely knackered.”
She got involved in the campaign, which she seamlessly works into conversation, while on a planned ‘baby tour’ introducing her infant daughter to her family in Meath and her husband’s relatives in Cork.
Since Ruby’s arrival, Angela’s time is precious currency and she wants to make sure she’s working on “things I really believe in”, in keeping with Frank & Honest’s announcement that they are committed to becoming the first national coffee brand to move to 100% compostable coffee cups.
“Coffee drinking has become more important to me in my life before and the sense that I have a responsibility to do my bit for the planet - for her, rather than myself. This is my small contribution towards that,” she said.
“I’d quite like that for the planet to be somewhat recognisable for her when I’m long gone.
That was a nice one to dip back into, it’s my first day back to work officially. It’s nice that it was in Ireland.”
Life as a freelancer, no matter how high your profile, brings its own stresses, a lack of job security being the most pressing. But it also has its perks, the main one being flexible hours.
“In a way, I feel really fortunate because I have friends - yes, they have a more extended period, but when they’re back, they’re back, and that brings its own set of challenges and difficulties - so for me, if I can manage it so I can dip in and out,” she explains of her somewhat relaxed approach to maternity leave.
“The next few weeks are busy and I’m hoping in July I can take a bit of a breather.”
After getting her start in presenting on RTE, would she ever consider a return?
“I have conversations with them regularly and it’s just about the project. RTE is where I started, I love RTE, I’ve been home watching everything, so I’m definitely open to that. There’s a huge appetite for Irish broadcasters, comedians and writers in the UK at the moment.
“Oi Ginger was something that I pitched directly to the channel and that’s something that I’m back doing now so, watch this space.”
When I ask her secret to success, she credits it to a positive attitude.
“Things have changed, I hope, and you’re hopefully rewarded for being decent at your job, but also decent to people. I think that’s something I’ve always tried to do. I’ve been really lucky.”
Frank and Honest will replace all non-recyclable single-use coffee cups with a new compostable cup and lid from September this year.