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It’s been more than a decade since Jacqueline Jossa made her screen debut as troubled teen Lauren Branning in EastEnders.
And since leaving the BBC soap in 2018, she has carved out a new and exciting career for herself.
She was crowned Queen of the Jungle in the 2019 series of I’m A Celebrity and last year launched her own fashion range for In The Style, plus a cosmetics range with BPerfect. And she’s just released her own jewellery collection with Hot Diamonds.
Life is busier than ever for the actress, who juggles her work with raising daughters Ella, six, and Mia, three, who she shares with her husband, former TOWIE star Dan Osborne.
Earlier this year, they moved into a six-bedroom Essex mansion and Jacqueline admits she’s already excitedly planning for their first Christmas in their new home.
Of course, the 28-year-old star has also had to deal with some low moments, recently opening up about her distressing experience with online trolls.
Here, she reveals how she deals with hurtful comments, the highs and lows of motherhood and why winning I’m A Celeb changed her life…
Hi, Jacqueline. You have a lot on. Is it hard maintaining a healthy work/life balance?
I feel like I never stop, but I’ve been trying to. The past two months I’ve pulled back and found some more time for myself and my family.
Were the lockdowns helpful, in that they gave you quality time with them?
I think there were loads of benefits for our family. Obviously, we had those moments where the kids went mad at 2pm and you’re thinking, “How is it not bedtime yet?” But all in all, I was pleasantly surprised. We did loads of lovely long walks and it made me take stock of what’s important.
What’s the toughest thing about being a mum?
I think the overprotectiveness that I feel. Sometimes it can make you a bit crazy and chaotic. It’s scary to love a tiny human as much as you love them and you feel like you’d do anything to protect them. Even at a soft play, I’m on edge. I’m like a big old mama bear that just wants to protect her kids.
Do you have a parenting style or any rules you lay down?
Not really. We don’t really have rules. Our kids are good and we’re not too strict on them but they just know when they’re pushing their luck. I give them a look! At the moment, there’s been problems because Mia is back chatting and she and Ella are having rows and physical fights. The little one is beating up the bigger one!
It sounds like you’ve got your hands full. Would you have another child?
I would never say never, because you don’t know how you’ll feel in the future. Half of my friends haven’t had families yet and they’re the same age as me, and I’ve been there and done that, so I’m just ready to babysit my friends’ kids. I wouldn’t want to go back to changing nappies again any time soon.
You started off in acting, so has it been nice to explore other projects since EastEnders?
It was never intentional. First and foremost, I wanted to be an actor. I’ve sort of fallen into the projects I’m doing now but I love them.
You’ve launched your own jewellery range with Hot Diamonds. What kind of pieces are they?
I would say they are day-to-night pieces – you can wear them with casual outfits like jeans and a shirt, or with a beautiful little black dress. A lot of them are designed to be layered or stacked, which I love because I often wear four necklaces at a time. They’re so cool, unique and different, and a bit edgy.
Do you have any plans to return to acting?
I’d love to. I want to do some musical theatre but that hasn’t been practical in a pandemic. I’m a huge fan of musicals, so my dream would be to star in something like Wicked or Blood Brothers.
Would you consider another soap role?
No, never, I’m an EastEnders girl! I started off with the best and I’m loyal.
How much has winning I’m A Celebrity changed your life so far?
So much. It’s changed how much work I’ve been offered and I feel so lucky in that sense. I think it’s changed me as a person too. I’m definitely more confident and brave now.
Were you nervous before going into the jungle?
I couldn’t sleep. I had to mentally block it out. People would say, “Are we going to talk about this at some point?” I’d be like, “No, I can’t talk about it yet.” My friends and family knew how terrified I was of spiders and the jungle didn’t cure that. My dad still has to come and get them out of my house. I felt like I was forced to do the challenges – Ant and Dec were standing there and it was peer pressure. I wouldn’t normally do any of the things I did on that show and you couldn’t pay me to do them again.
Would you do Strictly or Dancing On Ice?
No way would I do Dancing On Ice. I can’t dance on a solid floor, let alone ice. I don’t think I have Strictly in me, either. The outfits look fun but I know how hard it is. When I was in EastEnders, pretty much every year someone did it and they were all so tired. I couldn’t take it.
What’s next for you?
I have a few things I can’t talk about yet. But I’m so excited for Christmas. I love it so much and that’s my focus!
Do you have any family Christmas traditions?
Probably the same as everybody’s. We do Christmas Eve boxes, matching pyjamas and we watch a festive film. I’m going big this Christmas, though. I’m getting the biggest tree. We moved into our house five months ago and it’s the first time I’ve had the space for it. When we viewed the house, I said, “Imagine Christmas here!” Dan was like, “That can’t be the reason we buy the house!” I was like, “Yup, it is!”
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