Jacqueline Jossa ‘lost her way’ in reality TV but is ‘believing in herself again’ thanks to EastEnders

Returning to a role after a five-year hiatus might seem daunting to most – but not to EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa, who is back and better than ever.

The star – known for her Walford character Lauren Branning – is returning to Walford to take part in some of the biggest storylines this Christmas, and the mum-of-two has admitted how excited she is to reprise her role. “It’s such an amazing time to be back as there is so much buzz around EastEnders at the moment. I’ve been watching and loving it like a fan.

“Walford holds a special place in my heart, so it really does feel like coming home,” the actress said.

But other than learning lines and catching up with her old co-stars, Jac, 31, has been working hard to make sure she looks – and feels – her best for her comeback.

“Jacqueline is believing in herself again,” a source exclusively told OK!. “She’s very confident and is more than ready to return to EastEnders.”

The star, who played Lauren on the BBC soap for eight years, has been open about hitting the gym in preparation for her dramatic return to Albert Square. In fact, she even ditched the sunlounger for exercise while on a recent family holiday to Dubai, and it’s been paying off.

Most recently, she showed off her weight loss to fans on Instagram, while modelling her new collection of In The Style party dresses.

“I felt amazing in everything and I honestly hope you guys love it as much as me,” Jac said, smiling to the camera while donning lots of sequins and glitter.

Fans were quick to compliment her too, with one saying, “Wow you look absolutely gorgeous,” while another wrote, “Gorgeous glam queen.” And a third commented, “You absolute beauty excited for your return to the best soap too.”

But being happy and confident in her skin hasn’t been an easy journey for Jacqueline, who joined the cast of EastEnders when she was just 17.

Over the years she’s been a victim of cruel body-shaming trolls, who have targeted her with vile messages.

But our same source has explained that Jac’s confidence is now at an all-time high as she’s going back to her acting roots.

“She lost her way a bit when she got into reality TV,” they said. “Her love life being played out publicly didn’t help either as that’s not her. She just wants to get back into what she loves the most – and that’s acting.”

Jac, who won I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2019, has been married to former TOWIE star Dan Osborne since 2017, and the couple share daughters Ella, seven, and Mia, five.

However, it’s no secret that Jac has weathered some storms in the past few years, in particular when it comes to speculation surrounding her marriage.

After a romantic proposal in Greece, Jac and Dan, 32, enjoyed a star-studded wedding at a luxury manor house in Cheshire. But their newlywed bliss wasn’t to last for long.

The pair reportedly separated for a brief time when cheating rumours swirled about anaffair between Dan and Love Island ’s Gabby Allen – which they both denied.

Proving she wasn’t prepared to give up on the relationship, Jacqueline later reunited with Dan and they expanded their young family when Jac gave birth to Mia in June 2018.

But it appears all that is now in the past, and Dan is supporting his wife all the way when it comes to her new chapter in life.

“Dan’s behind Jac and is very supportive. It’s a positive future for her and life’s good at the moment,” our source said.

Now, the star, who briefly reprised her role as Lauren for a single episode in June and again last December, is preparing for a longer stint this time around, and she can barely contain her excitement about it.

“It’s as permanent as anyone there is permanent,” Jac explained. “Obviously, you can get written out at any time but yeah, it’s not a flying visit this time, it’s back, back.”

In fact, Jac’s love of the soap is so strong that when she celebrated her 31st birthday in October, her husband surprised her with a replica cake of the iconic bust that sits in the show’s Queen Vic pub.

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