When Amber Davies was announced as one of the leads in a glittering, big-name, big-budget West End musical, it’s fair to say it raised a few eyebrows. Er, Amber Davies? The one off Love Island?
It’s not a career path you’d normally associate with someone from the ITV2 reality series, and it’s a curveball that Amber herself was acutely aware of. She knew she had something major to prove when she made her debut in 9 To 5: The Musical earlier this year.
- Bra, £6.99, New Look – buy now
“I definitely did, 100%,” she says. “There were so many different opinions when I was first announced, but I just thought: ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover. Just wait until you see it.’ Even now, any negativity I see on Twitter, I always say: ‘Come and watch it and then give your opinion.’”
At first glance Amber, 22, is sweet-natured and mild-mannered, but there’s a steeliness to her – she makes no apologies and is resolute in her belief that she fully deserves to be where she is.
“From the first rehearsal, I knew I wasn’t out of my comfort zone,” she shrugs. “I knew I was capable of doing the job. So yeah, it’s been lovely to prove people wrong. Although I did Love Island, I’m not talentless.”
Anyone who’s been to see Dolly Parton’s energetic musical – based on the 1980 film of the same name and also starring Louise Redknapp, Brian Conley and the formidable Bonnie Langford – will vouch for that. As flustered, downtrodden divorcée Judy Bernly, Amber is a natural. She’s funny, endearing and believable, and with her big solo Get Out And Stay Out, completely steals the show.
- Jacket, £31.50, Boohoo – buy now
- Body, £10.80, Boohoo – buy now
“I was absolutely terrified on press night, but as soon as the reviews went out I relaxed into it. So it’s not about proving people wrong any more – I’m there to enjoy myself. This is my job now.”
Luckily, co-star Louise has been helping her learn the ropes. “Louise has become a really close friend,” says Amber. “She’s helped me a lot in improving my confidence on stage and off and is like a big sister to me. We socialise a lot away from the theatre and I know we will be friends for life.”
Aspiring actress Amber had just graduated with a diploma in musical theatre from London’s Urdang Academy and landed a part in the UK tour of Hairspray when she was scouted by Love Island producers via Instagram. She agonised over which job to choose – one was a safe bet, while the other was a huge risk, which she accepts could have killed off all hope of a theatre career before it had begun. But the potential rewards were massive.
“It was a gamble, yeah. At first I actually decided to do Hairspray, but I was so unhappy with the decision. It was just something in my gut. I was such a big fan of Love Island and I thought: ‘It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.’ I knew it was going to change my life in some way. Whether it was going to be for the better I didn’t know, but I was ready to take that chance.”
- T-shirt, £12.99, Bershka – buy now
- Boots, £189, Kurt Geiger – buy now
Amber went on to win the show in 2017 alongside then-boyfriend Kem Cetinay, and since coming out there’s been a clear strategy. She’s declined offers of other reality shows such as Ex On The Beach (“It’s very similar to Love Island and I’ve ticked that box”) and turns down the majority of sponsored post opportunities.
The focus is on the long game rather than, as she puts it, “quick fixes” and money-spinning deals, which send out the wrong message.
“I don’t want to be just a reality star – that’s what I’m trying to avoid. I do understand why people go down that route. This time last year I was so worried because I hadn’t broken into musical theatre yet, and I remember having anxiety that I would be forgotten about. It’s a lot of pressure thinking you have 12 months before the new lot come in and then you get lost.”
There has been speculation that this pressure to remain in the public eye and earn a living off the back of the show has been one of the factors contributing to mental health issues among contestants. Love Island has faced scrutiny over the suicides of former islanders Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis and accusations that the programme makers were failing in their duty of care to the stars the show creates.
- Earrings, £1.25, New Look – buy now
Amber says she has always felt supported by producers so has “no complaints, personally”. However, she was devastated by fellow 2017 star Mike’s death and recognises the need for change.
“Shocked, gutted… I knew Mike quite well and I knew how genuine he was. He had this Muggy Mike reputation, but none of that bothered him. He was very laid-back and not arrogant at all. He was a very soft-natured guy. I feel for his family and everyone who was close to him. I think such a horrible, sad situation sends a strong message that we all need to support each other and ask each other if we’re OK. We all need to be so much kinder to each other.”
This year’s cohort will be given specialist social media training to help them handle the pressures and responsibilities that come from suddenly having millions of followers. “It’s growing each series, so for example our year wasn’t half as big as last year’s.
Dani Dyer, who won last year’s series with Jack Fincham, has got over 3 million followers, whereas I’ve only got 1.6 million – and that’s enough for me!”
Essex boy Kem, 23, and Amber split a few months after Love Island, blaming their hectic schedules. “We don’t see each other. We don’t speak,” says Amber. “It’s like we live two completely different lives. I wish him well, but I don’t know him as a person.
“People grow up, don’t they? We were so young when we met and I think now we’re two very different humans who don’t know each other at all, which is obviously sad. It’s part of life and I accept it. But I always wish him well.”
Amber was said to have taken the break- up particularly badly and she confides today that it took her a long time to recover from it. “I was so heartbroken, because you have to read about it in the media so there’s no escape. You know when you want to get over an ex and you don’t want to see or speak to them again? That’s normally doable. But when you’re getting tagged in this, that and the other it’s impossible. Anything Kem says, I get tagged in – and it’s the same the other way around. So I just had constant reminders that I was heartbroken.
“It took me a good year to get over him. It was a slow process, but time does heal and now I can’t really remember being with him. It’s weird. I’ll never forget winning with him and the amazing summer, but yeah, I’m so much better now.
“I was eager to find another relationship at first, which was probably a coping mechanism. But it was a rebound thing and wasn’t good for my mental health – you can’t hide one thing with something else. I needed to concentrate on myself for a while.”
Nevertheless, she’s been linked to a string of eligible men more recently. Perri Kiely from Diversity?
“Just a friend!”
Chris Clark from TOWIE?
“Barely even friends. I’ve seen him on a few nights out and that’s about it.
“They all come out the woodwork, don’t they? But honestly, I’ve got no time for men. They’re too much hassle, so much drama. My friends all have boyfriends and I’m literally their therapist. I’m happy to be there to give them advice, but I don’t need any advice for myself for a change!
“As soon as I got 9 To 5 I’ve done nothing but concentrate on myself and this is the first time ever in my life that I am happy and single.” But why do so many of the Love Island relationships flounder once contestants head home? While there have been a few successes (hello, Alex and Olivia Bowen!), most fall by the wayside within weeks or months of the show ending.
“It’s such a bubble. And when you come out you’re in demand, everybody wants a piece of you, which puts so much pressure on relationships. If you’re on opposite sides of the country, trying to build a relationship is tough. I also think everyone on it is quite young and young love generally doesn’t last.”
She’s been catching up with series five in the car en route home from the theatre each night and is tipping Tommy and Molly-Mae to win. “They’re clearly infatuated with each other and felt no temptation when the new boys and girls came in with Casa Amor. I think Molly has dealt with everything in a mature way – especially given she’s the youngest girl.”
Amber agrees though that some of the show’s early innocence has been lost as contestants become more savvy. “It’s been on for five years now and they know how it works. They’re not naive like we were. Our series was the first one with Casa Amor and so we were thrown in at the deep end. Now they know what’s coming around the corner. But I still think it’s been an amazing series – there’s so much drama, which is what the public want.”
The show has also come under fire for appearing to normalise cosmetic surgery. Amber has been open about the fact she had her ears pinned back earlier this year after suffering insecurity since childhood, but hit back at accusations that she was promoting surgery.
“Getting my ears pinned back changed my life because I was so insecure and had been for years. When I was, like, nine, I used to say to Mum: ‘Please can I get my ears pinned back?’ And she’d say: ‘Just wait until you’re older, see if you grow into them.’ I never did. I looked like Dumbo at one point. So bad. My hair would always be down to cover them up. In 9 To 5 I have to perform to 1,500 people every night in a short wig with my ears out, and I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if I had my old ears.”
She does, however, also have lip filler on a regular basis. “I love it. I’d been having that done way before I went on Love Island – it’s not something that I decided to do since coming into the public eye. I’m not ashamed to say I get lip filler. It’s a very normal thing these days. I would never say: ‘Go and get it done,’ to my followers and I haven’t had anything else done.
“At the end of the day, these are my decisions and it’s my body. It’s got nothing to do with anyone else. I mean, if someone can’t sleep at night because I’ve had a few millimetres in my lips, that’s their issue.”
Being someone who has managed to dodge post-Love Island controversy, Amber is baffled by her reported feud with Kady McDermott, who starred in the 2016 series. She says today she has no idea where it’s all come from, although apparently Kady was miffed that she’d “stolen” her Pocket Rocket nickname.
“I honestly have no comment to say about the whole thing because I don’t know who she is,” says Amber. The shade… “No, seriously, I have no interest in it. I really don’t know how it came about and anything I read about it I don’t even pay any attention to, because it’s irrelevant
to my life.”
She denies reports that she’s blocked Kady on Instagram. “I haven’t blocked her. I think she’s blocked me. Hang on, I’ll have a look.” She checks her phone.
“Yeah, she blocked me. I haven’t blocked her. I’ve never said anything about her, I haven’t got a bad word to say about her. I think she may just have this thing against me, but it’s completely a one-way street.”
And it gets her in the papers? “Well, yeah, and that’s why I give it zero attention.”
As one of the richest ex-Love Islanders with reported earnings of £1.6million, Amber certainly doesn’t need to engage in headline-grabbing squabbling. She’s investing her money sensibly having bought property in North Wales, and also makes sure her family are well looked after.
“I was brought up in a working-class family, so it’s so nice to be able to treat them. My mum and dad did everything for me when I was younger.
MOST READ IN FABULOUS
PARTY POOPER Mum got so drunk at wedding she 's**t herself' on dancefloor ending reception
MAKING A POINT Meghan ‘was a nightmare’ during Wimbledon visit to see Serena, official says
HANG ON Bride makes DIY bridesmaids' hangers for 46p but is mocked for a hilarious fail
“I got my nana and grandad a car for Christmas, which obviously I could never have dreamed of doing a few years ago.” She’s less generous with herself. “I’m so tight! But I’m working eight shows a week and it’s so time-consuming that my social life is out the window. So maybe I
do need to reward myself a bit more.”
She has six more weeks to run in the West End before going on a three-month tour of the UK with the show. And after that?
“I’m not short of offers,” she says. “We just need to figure out what’s right for me. But I’d love to do Broadway. Whatever happens, 2020 is going to be full of opportunities, and I’m excited.”
Book you read?
I have a horoscope book I read every night.
Movie you watched?
The Notebook. Obssesed.
Box set you watched?
I don't watch much TV, but I do love Celebrity Catchprase.
Time you were drunk?
Time you cried?
I watch videos of military homecomings and I just cry.
Time you lost your temper?
I'm not one to go crazy. Kill'em with kindness, I say.
Time you had a kiss?
Probably abou a month ago.
It was someone giving me the flame emoji, but I can't expose who!
Source: Read Full Article