Her appearance on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here made her a darling of the nation and her book, Are We There Yet? To Indignity and Beyond! and her first solo comedy tour, Talk Thirty to Me, spoke hilariously and beautifully about what it really means to reach that ‘age’ milestone. In conclusion, she speaks to me and so many others out there who are struggling with ‘adulting’.
I have a confession. I love Emily Atack. The 30-year-old all-round comedy machine burst onto our screens in The Inbetweeners as the infamous Charlotte Hinchliffe and has rarely looked back since.
Here, in the latest episode of our new series, Happy Hour – our weekly Instagram Live chat show which airs on @glamouruk every Tuesday at 7pm – Emily refreshingly talks about the perils of self-isolating as a single gal and it’s Emily at her hilarious, honest best…
The truth is, it’s a terrible, horrible time. But what I just have to keep reminding myself is that I’m not an NHS worker, I’m not on the front line. I’m literally being asked to sit at home on my sofa and drink. I have to really remind myself of that if I do have a moment of like feeling sh*t and feeling down. I’m not risking my life every day like they are. Genuinely, I’m not trying to play violins here, that is genuinely what I have to keep reminding myself every day. It’s so hard, it’s horrible, I miss my family, I miss my friends. But I feel like I’m more connected to everybody then I have been in years, strangely.
The annoying thing is we can’t make excuses to get out of plans any more…
We don’t have an excuse now. People are like, “oh babe, I haven’t spoken to you in ages girl, FaceTime me!” I’m like, “oh, I’m actually really busy,” and they’re like, “doing what?”
How are you managing ‘adulting’ in self isolation?
It is hard. There’s one point where I stub my toe, burst into tears and cry to my mum on the phone and I feel like a toddler, and then the next minute I’m lying on my sofa and I haven’t done anything all day. And then I go, “ooh, what time is it, 3:00PM? I will have a little nap now, like an old lady.” I plan my day like my grandma, I’ll go, “oh well I’ll eat that bit of mango at 2pm and then it’s 3pm, I’ll have my nap.” I also can’t believe how much you have to clean when your here so much. You have to clean like twice a day, it’s a disaster.
Now everybody’s getting an insight into what your house looks like. For example, I did Lorraine yesterday morning, I went on Lorraine, and I was so terrified about what my house was going to look like. I did a Zoom call today and it had like Stephen Fry in it, and I didn’t want him to see how messy my room was, and I was like covering things with dressing gowns.
Are you finding it hard to keep up the Destiny’s Child level of Independent Women life right now?
I go to the garden, I’ve got a little table and chairs, and I take a blanket out there, I put a white tablecloth on the table, I light a candle, I make my dinner and have a little glass of something. And I sit outside and have my dinner as though I’m in like, Spain on a holiday and having my tea at night. I’ve got neighbours whose windows look over my garden and they must look at me every night and think, “oh no, she’s lighting a candle on her own again.” I put a picture up with my little salmon filet and my lentils, earlier and I put, “dinner with myself, can’t cancel that again!” So, I’m embracing it as much as I can. But then I’d quite like to have a big old row with a sexy boy, do you know what I mean? People keep messaging me saying things like, “oh, god, you’re so lucky that you’re on your own. I want to kill my boyfriend right now, we’re like breathing down each other’s necks. “And I’m like, “I wish he’d breathe down my neck!”
But ultimately, the relationship has always got to start with yourself, and that’s what it’s about babe, isn’t it?
It is. It’s what I’ve really learned since turning 30, it’s not just a myth, you really find that relationship with yourself when you hit 30. I am getting to know myself; I talk to myself; I interview myself. I interview myself in the shower, in the bath, just like walking around. I just found myself talking to myself constantly, like interviewing myself as though I’m on Jonathan Ross and talking about life.
Everyone is trying to have the perfect isolation Instagram now, aren’t they? All these things that people are saying that they’re doing, I have to lie and say I’ve done them, just to make me look more normal. Like people keep saying, “are you doing your hour of exercise a day? Have you downloaded this yoga app yet? Have you cleaned your cupboards out?” I lie and say I have done it but really, I haven’t!
It is at the end of September, so I am just hoping by then that at that point, everything has blown over, and it might be the first big night out we’ve all had, and if that’s the case, drinks are on me! My show couldn’t have come at a stranger time, because the show was originally going to be called, Can’t Wait To Cancel. I know, it’s so awful. But then it’s that other c-word that I couldn’t use, there’s so many c-words going around, and cancel is one of them, because now everything’s been canceled. I should have called it Terrible Timing, really.
My first show was about the kind of woes and worries of approaching 30 and how you feel about it. This show is kind of like, now that I’ve hit 30, what that means for me and how my life has changed. One of the things being, instead of the FOMO thing, it’s now the JOMO thing, isn’t it? When you get older, it’s like the joy of missing out. I was going to start writing about how I now like to cancel plans and stay in and get drunk on my own. But now, it’s just not the case, because I’d give anything to be out. I thought I’m going to start a new thing of JOGO, the joy of going out.
How therapeutic do you find this writing process for you?
I absolutely love writing. I think when you’re really young and you set out in the industry you’re pigeonholed, and don’t get me wrong, I was pigeonholed in a lovely way. I got a lovely role in The Inbetweeners and then I was known as, “the girl next door,” and those were the roles which came after that. But sadly, if you’re known as kind of a pinup blonde type, you’re not put into a category of somebody who is able to write really, sadly.
That’s the sort of stigma I’ve found over the years. But I’ve now really sort of tried to prove everybody wrong, and by doing the jungle it allowed me to show people who I was as a person. Now the lovely thing is people are really giving me a chance to show that I have a lot to offer, not just a pair of big jugs. I mean they’re little saggy nowadays, Charlotte saggy jugs, not quite the same ring, would it.
Over the years, I just knew that I was meant to just be the giggling girl in the corner, you know? I was kind of fine with that for a long time, because I didn’t know any different. Then I think just when you get a bit older you get a bit wiser and obviously, everything with the feminist movement is stronger than it’s ever been right now, women are literally like, we run the world! It’s all come at a really good time, and I’m just really kind of riding on that strong feminist culture and show the world that we’ve got more to offer than just our bodies.
For me you have become such a great symbol of just living your life by your own rules and making your own choices…
Yeah, and I’m not afraid to admit this although I’m slightly cringing at saying it, but since doing the Jungle and doing all of these things in the last couple of years, what life has given, has handed to me, it really has allowed me to be so carefree with who I am. I owe it all to the jungle. The timing of it was perfect, the situation that I was in, the people I was with, just everything it brought to me, the time of my life, the sort of particular time of my life that it was, I owe it all to that. I’ve been very open about my mental health, I struggle with certain things and I have my struggles like everybody, when I have those moments, I still now, watch YouTube clips of me in the jungle.
I use it as a therapy tool, because I watch that person that everybody else saw, that the nation watched. My sister is also part of my agency team, she’s one of my agents, she says to me, “You’ve got to remember how many people supported you, loved you, and you were just completely exposed, you were completely yourself and people still loved you.” That doesn’t always happen for everybody. Sometimes you go in there and people, they might think you’re a bit of a dick, and I’m sure some people thought that about me as well. But I was so lucky that I had most people on my side.
I watch those YouTube clips of me in the Jungle, my little freckly, stupid face, and I really admire that person. It sounds so weird, but I really sometimes wish that I could carry that person with me into my everyday life, because I can’t all the time. I’m not as carefree all the time as I was in there, because I’m living in the real world here, I’m not in the real world there. But even though it was kind of a fake world, I was completely the real me in there. It’s environments like that, they are the only times that really allow you to be who you truly are when you’re stripped bare of everything. So I just have to really kind of dig deep sometimes.
I think actually, being in isolation on my own, I’ve had to really go to a place in my mind that I used to go to when I was in the Jungle, which is a place of strength and realising it’s not forever and it will all be out soon, and you will come out stronger at the end of it.
What is your favourite thing about being in your 30s so far?
Now I get more told off, I spend my life getting told off. I’ve been so told off. I get bollocks every single day. I’ve been getting told off since I was really, really young, I’ve always been very naughty, people always wondering where I am, what I’m doing and everything. I thought as I got into my 30s, I’d get less told off. No, it’s worse, because now people are going, “what are you behaving like that for? You’re in your 30s!” I think I will forever be told off. And you know what? The day I don’t get told off is probably the day that I’ll really worry and go, does this mean that I’m officially old and that people think, she could take care of herself now.
What do you get told off for?
I get told off for staying out too late. I get told off for kissing boys. I get told off for saying that I’m somewhere when I’m actually somewhere else. I get told off for canceling plans to go and meet a boy. I get told off for staying out too late at a party, drinking too much. I’m very naughty. But I’m a nice person, I never harm anybody intentionally. I mean, I upset my mom sometimes, if she doesn’t know where I am, and I’ve been a bit silly. I feel like I’ve got a good heart, and I love people, and I try and be just as lovely as I can be to everybody. I’m a good friend, I listen to people. But I just like going out and partying, and I like boys.
I mean we all love a good boy…
Oh, they are fantastic. It’s very easy as a woman, I’ve been heartbroken many times, and it’s very difficult, and it’s very easy to sit there and go, “Oh God, I hate men, they treat me terribly.” We can all sit around and slag them off for ages but, I’ve realised since being single, weirdly, that there are a lot of nice men out there, and I’ve been on lovely dates.
When I’m in a relationship, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and loyal, but when I’m single, I really enjoy myself. I meet really lovely guys and there are really nice men out there. There are. I haven’t met the right person yet that I want to pursue anything with further than just a few dates, that’s fine. I will one day, but I’m just enjoying men and their company. Just choose really nice ones to go on dates with, that aren’t going to cancel.