Sunday 8 December 2019

The life of Laura Whitmore

Laura Whitmore has launched Naked Juice's 'What Machine Are You' competition, where Irish juice lovers can win personalised bottles of Naked Juice.
Laura Whitmore has launched Naked Juice's 'What Machine Are You' competition, where Irish juice lovers can win personalised bottles of Naked Juice.
The TV beatuy at this year's BAFTA Film Awards.

Marianne Power

'Laura's coming!" says a girl in the same hushed, urgent tone that might be used to announce the arrival of a US President. "She's on her way." Word spreads across the set, with photographers, assistants and serious-looking girls getting ready. Ready for the star.

The doors open and here she is - in a sunshine yellow skinny rib top, denim skirt and block heels. She rearranges her rings, flicks her hair and poses in front of the camera. A make-up artist hovers by her constantly, jumping into shot to powder her nose and fix her hair.

A stylist is by her side too, adjusting her top, straightening her skirt. Laura looks into the distance as everyone busies themselves around her.

"That's nice, Laura, nice…" says the photographer as they click, click, click.

The last time I interviewed Laura Whitmore she had just moved to London and was a year into her job with MTV. She was charmingly indiscreet about all the celebs she'd been meeting on the new job - Robert Downey Junior was 'crazy', Marilyn Manson was 'dirty' and Stephen Dorff didn't look the way he used to - and refreshingly down to earth. She cycled to red carpet events, didn't own any clothes that cost more than €50 and liked hanging out with her flatmate, a solicitor.

It was one of her first big magazine interviews and photo shoot and she arrived on her own, stayed all day and chatted for a couple of hours over tea and Maltesers.

Fast-forward seven years and how things have changed. Having become the darling of MTV, as well as the co-anchor of I'm a Celebrity's ITV2 show, Laura is now a star in her own right. As such I'm told I will get just 20 minutes with her, to discuss her connection with Naked Juices, which has created a green juice bottle with her name on it. I'm told that her agent wants us to discuss her 'wellness regime' and that I am not allowed to ask any 'celebrity' style questions about Leonardo di Caprio, with whom she was rumoured to be partying until 5am at this year's Baftas.

We are to meet at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho - a hotel much fancier than the name would suggest - and after half an hour of waiting, I'm ushered into a hotel suite where Laura is getting her make-up done. The room is full. Her make-up artist. Her agent. A PR rep for the juice company. A couple of other people whose roles remain a mystery.

Laura now has an entourage.

I find a seat to perch on and we say our hellos. She is looking at the bottle of green juice with her name on the label, and the tagline 'a blend of music and TV with fashion extracts'.

I wonder what 'fashion extracts' tastes of. On the back there is a list of Laura's so-called quirky characteristics: 'Loyal, fun, weird, passionate and genuine'. Laura is reading out loud from the label: "A pound of fun in every bottle… ahhh!" She seems delighted.

Is that what modern-day fame is? Not only drinking green juice but having it named after you?

I congratulate her on all her success over the last seven years. "Well, I'm still here, I'm still working, still busy…" she smiles. We make the usual comments about how time has flown. "I don't feel any older," she says. And she doesn't look it either. It goes without saying that she is gorgeous - golden hair, golden skin and lots of golden rings arranged on various parts of her fingers.

She has just come back from Coachella music festival in California which she said was fun and "very chilled". She has announced that she is "hanging up her jungle boots" and won't be returning down under for I'm a Celebrity.

"It was a brilliant five years but I've decided not to go back. It was a huge learning curve. Once you've dealt with live television, sleep deprivation and being on the other side of the world you know you can do anything."

I ask her if she is still working at MTV.

"I'm still with MTV. I used to do news every day but now I do more awards, bigger shows, some of the festivals. I'm not in my 20s running around festivals anymore. It's still good, I still have a great relationship with them but in order to do other stuff I couldn't go in every day," she says.

The other stuff includes a column in online magazine, Byrdie, and her own jewellery collection and, of course, also the juice, which she says "fits in with my lifestyle". "In this industry it's quite crazy, there's a lot going on and you can work crazy hours and it's go-go-go, so you have to have a balance. I'm someone who likes a good night out but the older you get the more you realise you have to look after yourself. It's all about a balance.

"I'm going to have a nice big dirty chocolate bar but then you can also have your nice green juice. I'm not into fad diets - if you want to maintain it, you have to have a bit of everything."

And so I do what I'm told and ask her about her 'wellness regime', but not in those words. Instead I stick to the good old fashioned "What food do you eat?" and a bit of me dies inside. Why do we live in a world where we are all obsessed with each others' diets? Especially the diets of people we don't even know?

"This morning I had avocado on toast. When I was in the jungle, avocado was what everybody ate… I'm obsessed with kale right now, even my moisturiser is a kale moisturiser."

Oh God, you're not turning into Gwyneth Paltrow are you? "No! I'm not that extreme. I was in Dublin the other day, hosting this music event and we stayed up late. On the way home I said I'd love some dirty chips with cheese and garlic mayonnaise, so we got it from Zaytoon. I was on the plane the next morning and looking at my newsfeed and it was all quinoa porridge and berries and so I posted a picture of my chips - just to keep it real…"

So you're not swearing off carbs? "With shoots and filming, if things run late you'll eat sandwiches but if I eat loads of bread I feel bloated and terrible. You kind of have to listen to your body with food."

Then I get on to part two of the 'wellness regime'. Exercise. Laura says she's not a gym bunny but she's into yoga and running. "I always put my trainers in my bag. I was in Mexico recently for one night to do an interview with Daniel Craig so I got up two hours earlier and ran around the city. I do bikram yoga too and next week I'm going for four days to this yoga detox retreat that my friend runs, so it's quite nice to do that and get away - for your mental health as well."

And mental health is something that Laura is keen to talk about. "I just read Bressie's book. He's a friend of mine but I didn't know all the things that he was going through. You look at him and he's this gorgeous lead singer of this successful band and I had no idea that he had all these inner demons but every person has them, everyone has their low points."

Do you have down patches?

"Everyone does but I'm quite a positive person. I'm good at communicating and talking and I have a really good group of friends so if I have a bad day I talk about it. I think girls are better than guys at doing that - not always but in general. I talk myself into circles and then I'm fine.

"I've always been quite a spiritual person too," she says, grabbing her chakra necklace. "I believe in karma, I believe in working hard and being kind. I try to be aware of everyone in the room. You see people be rude to other people, there's no need for that. It's easier to be nice."

And what has been the hardest thing about fame? "There's more pressure now. It's gone from me interviewing all these musicians and artists and stuff to then me being interviewed and people being interested in my life. At first I found that hard to deal with. When someone has taken a picture of you and you didn't know they'd taken a picture of you and it turns up in the paper - you feel a bit violated. That was harder than I thought it would be… People started becoming interested in who I was with and I thought 'why do people care?' I have friends who'd say 'Why don't they just leave you alone?' and then in the next breath, they'd say, 'Did you see that thing with Cheryl Cole?' We all do it. You have to get a thick skin about things. You know what the truth is and so do your friends and if it's in the paper it's gone tomorrow."

As for the next chapter, Laura says she has a few things in the pipeline which she can't discuss. And where would she like to be if we meet in another seven years?

"I'd like to do lots of different things - it's nice to have lots of stuff going on. In seven years' time I don't even know what will be happening. Look at the online world, it's crazy. I have people now who come up to me and they don't even say 'I love you on I'm A Celebrity' or 'I love you on MTV' they say: 'I love your Instagram.'"

I ask her how many followers she has and she tells me half a million. Wow.

"I know, I'd better not too have too much cheese and chips pictures on there," she says. And then I'm told it's time to wrap up our chat. She continues to get ready and I go back on the roof terrace where various people are milling around waiting for her arrival.

When she does appear - after yet more announcements of "Laura's coming!" - she poses like a pro with her bottle of juice, a denim skirt and sunshine yellow top. The sun is out and she is surrounded by people. As I head home I find myself really hoping that in the weird world of fame, green juices and social media, she doesn't give up the chips.

Laura Whitmore has launched Naked Juice's 'What Machine Are You' competition, where Irish juice lovers can win personalised bottles of Naked Juice. For more information on how you can win, visit Naked Juice UK on Facebook

5 things you didn't know about Laura

1 I think I'm Beyonce sometimes, I've got no professional training, but something happens when the music comes on, I've got the booty.

2 My underwear drawer is colour-coded. My mum came and stayed in my flat when I was away and when I got back she'd rearranged my drawers, including my underwear. "You just weren't keeping things organised," she said.

3 I can bake - I make cupcakes and goji berry balls - God, that's so Gwyneth! You cannot come into my house without being offered a cup of tea.

4 The song that will always make me happy is Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere.

5 I'm taller than people think, I'm 5ft 8in. People always think I'm shorter.

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