Every time we catch up with Judi Love, we end up with a smile on our faces – and this interview is no exception.
But as the Loose Women favourite sits down to reflect on her rise to stardom, she also lays out the realities of balancing her busy schedule with being a full-time mother of two.
"I may have had the longest and hardest day at work ever but I’ll still come home and make sure they’ve done their homework," the 42-year-old laughs. "I’ll never stop being that hands-on mum, no matter how busy I am!"
As she looks back on her two years on the ITV hit, Judi reveals what really happens when an on-air debate gets too heated and why every photo call with her "sisterhood" brings a tear to her eye.
Hi, Judi! You joined Loose Women two years ago. Are you still loving it?
I’d watched the show for years, so when I look back to the day I was asked to take part, I still have to pinch myself. I didn’t realise how much of a reach it had. This lunchtime series means so much to so many – you’re part of their everyday life – and what you say and do can have such an impact. I still have old men and young children stopping me and saying, "You’re that lady from the telly, aren’t you?" It blows my mind – it’s really special!
Are you really as close to your fellow panellists as you seem?
Definitely! We’re a family – a sisterhood. These women have such a variation of skills, gifts and talents, so to put them all together, you’re only going to make magic. I could have 100 problems and I could turn to each of them for help because they know so many different things. They’ve become a huge support system over the years and I’ve made friends for life.
We’ve seen our fair share of arguments between the ladies. Does the tension ever continue off-air?
Never! It’s a show that consists of so many bold characters – of course we’re going to disagree sometimes. But that’s what makes the show what it is. Not only does it keep viewers interested, it’s fun for us to have these discussions. Nothing heated ever carries on, every conversation comes from love. We can be yelling our opinions one minute and be like, "Babes, could you pass the sugar?" two minutes later!
What are you most grateful to the show for giving you?
A second family! When we’re doing our photoshoots as a group, I cry. If it’s not on-set, it’s afterwards, because I honestly can’t believe how lucky I am to be part of such an incredible circle of women. I can’t believe this is my life. And winning a Royal Television Society award for being part of the first ever all-Black Loose Women panel was a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Do you feel a pressure to look good in the industry you’re in? How do you battle body confidence issues?
That pressure to look good does exist in the industry. There has always been this certain “look” that is expected and this can be damaging to your self-esteem – but only if you let it be. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve stopped nipping to the shops with a durag on but I know the importance of keeping it real. I like to emphasise to followers that you can wear a tracksuit and no make-up one day and then wear a ball gown the next. I might not have any eyebrows on today but tomorrow, you’re all going to see my face popping with a new glam look. Mix it up! Yes, there is a pressure but you don’t have to adhere to it. Be you at all times!
Comedy was your first love before TV. Where did that passion come from?
I’ve always been the class clown! All the way through school and with every friendship group I’ve ever been in, I’m the one trying to make the best out of a bad situation by cracking a joke or two. A lot of my humour comes from adversity, so being funny was my way of bringing everybody together. I used to work in social care, so a good distraction from some of the difficult situations I
was forced to deal with was humour. I’d always be trying to make everyone around me laugh – my colleagues, patients, kids. No matter what age, race, sex or cultural background you’re from, humour is humour. We’ve all got it and it’s something we can all bond over.
Did your family encourage a career in entertainment?
It’s so funny because when I was young, I’d make them laugh so much but they’d be like "Shush, Judi, do your homework!". And now they’re like, "Oh my God, we knew you could do it, you’re amazing, we told you!". Ha! But in all seriousness, they’ve always supported me and absolutely believed the whole time I had it in me to go all the way. My godmother based in Florida – who has been like another mum since my mother passed away – came to see me perform when she was last visiting the UK and it was just so special. I’ve always been supported by powerful female role models – my sister, my mother, my godmother, my mum’s sister and now my daughter. I’m very lucky.
What do your kids think about having a famous mum?
They’re amazing. I don’t know if they really see me as famous. They’re used to me getting stopped and asked for a photo. But they’re mostly impressed when I’ve met someone they really admire, like they’ll spot a photo of me with Stormzy and they’re blown away.
What’s it like balancing such a busy schedule with two kids?
I may have had the longest and hardest day at work ever but I’ll still come home and make sure they’ve done their homework. I’m like, "Have you brushed your teeth?", "Eat your vegetables!" I’ll never stop being that hands-on mum, no matter how busy I am! Luckily, my daughter is nearly 18 now, so I don’t need to watch her as closely. But with my son, I’m still on it!
What is your proudest career achievement so far?
Performing on Live At The Apollo recently was super-special. I remember watching that show before I ever thought it would be possible for me to make a career out of just being myself. And it’s finally been made a reality.
And you’ve worked with Very on an October collection as part of your autumn-winter range! What was that like?
It’s been a buzz! I’ve learnt so much. They understand what I want to achieve, which is to make women feel confident and beautiful, even in winter. It can be easy to rely on joggers and comfies, so I wanted to make them feel they could drop the kids at school and hit the red carpet in the same collection. I wanted women to feel like voluptuous boss bitches!
Do you have a favourite item?
Yes, a black lurex shirt-style top with a belt at the waist. It’s so flattering! Every time I walk into a room wearing it, I know I’m giving that wow-factor. It’s so glam to pair up with some simple black trousers and red lipstick. It’s perfect for when I’m on stage too, as it just shines!
Judi Love’s new collection with Very is out now!
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