For most of her 20s, the red tops have been clamouring after Georgia Harrison, capturing the Loughton local at her most vulnerable – but now, she tells Mark Kebble, it’s time to reclaim her life
When Big Brother first aired in the summer of 2000, little did the producers know – or maybe they had an inkling – of the TV genre they were spawning. Reality TV seems to be something that crosses the age divide: I know many of the younger generation (well, compared to me) who are hooked on Love Island, as well as some older friends who can’t stop talking about Gogglebox. I’d like to say I fall in between both, but that would be a lie: reality TV is, quite simply, a turn off for me.
But working on this magazine has seen me meet some of the current stars of that world and I can’t help but thaw a little towards it. I can’t exactly imagine myself rushing home from work – or, more precisely, moving from my home office to the living room – to see what’s happening on Celebs Go Dating, but talking to the likes of Georgia Harrison, I do feel a little differently about those who insist on having their every move tracked for millions of prying eyes.
A star of The Only Way is Essex and Love Island, search her name and you will be inundated with news stories from our tabloids, who certainly aren’t shy about showing every nook and cranny (sometimes literally) to do with reality TV stars. Harrison’s has certainly been a life with many a down, captured for all the world to see. But you sense now, maybe for the first time since she first starred on our screens in 2014, that she is looking out for number one.
“I think mental health should be a priority to everyone no matter what their job role is,” she says to me about looking after herself. “Life is bloody stressful enough whether you’re a receptionist or the Queen. Everyone has their own struggles and should take the necessary measures to deal with the way it affects their mental health.”
At 19, I was at university learning how not be an adult, generally making a fool out of myself; at the same age, Harrison was on our TV screens in TOWIE. “It was actually really daunting,” she says on that time. “Everyone was a lot older than me and I was far less secure in myself than I am now. I definitely found fame and filming much harder then, but it helped me learn and grow my confidence to where I am at now. A camera used to make my legs shake, but now it’s like talking to my best friend.”
She turned 27 over the Christmas period and the Loughton local seems to have grown up a lot in the eight years since that screen debut. Harrison may be more of a natural in front of a camera today, but it’s clear a lot of work goes into her wellbeing behind the scenes. The fact that she launched a gymwear range speaks volumes. “Bikram yoga, meditation and running are my go tos for my mental and physical health,” she says. “I do a variety of exercise, but yoga is such a huge part of my life. It helps my posture and helps me release stored energy that normal exercise just can’t do. Hot Yoga Essex in Loughton has been my absolute saviour for the past eight years and I couldn’t recommend it more.”
The business side of Georgia Harrison is growing at a fast pace, with a new yoga range set to hit shops in the near future. “It’s going to be very spiritual and very me,” she grins. “I am super excited, but it’s too bright for this winter weather, so I am concentrating on my lash serum at the moment, which has just been stocked in D.noor Beauty Salon [in central London]. I’m hoping to get the serum in Boots, Superdrug and maybe even Selfridges. I just want to make sure I am ready before I approach them, but it’s looking good.”
We are actually chatting a week before she turned 27, and also before the Christmas break, where Harrison was looking forward to spending it with her family, plus going to watch West Ham on Boxing Day. “I spent last Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone in hospital in Dubai,” she points out, referencing her ordeal when she suffered a ruptured cyst that caused a host of her internal organs to become severely affected. “I have a lot of making up to do,” she adds.
Despite her celebrity status, Harrison isn’t shy about hitting some of the local hotspots, as she promised to do over the festive period. “One of my favourite places is Sheesh,” she enthuses about the celebrity hangout in Chigwell. “I also love The Gallery – not many people know about it, it’s in Woodford and the food, staff and venue is unreal – and then Mooro’s [also in Chigwell].” She leans in a little conspiratorially to add: “They do an over 30s night, which I have blagged my way into. I never thought at 27 I’d be lying about my age to get into a club.”
Despite what is going on in her life, you do get the sense that Harrison is always keen to use the experience and transform it, ultimately, into a positive. But bad news does keep cropping up: just weeks after this interview, one her best friends passed away and you could just feel the sorrow seeping from her Instagram posts. “I’m thinking of writing a book,” she said to me before this devastating news broke. “I have had a crazy life and overcome so much. Books have been such an asset to me to help learn how to stay strong and overcome life’s obstacles, and I really want to be able to produce something that does that for others. I’m honestly not looking forward to anything yet in 2022 as I have got too much drama to deal with at the start of it to see the light, but I am sure the universe has some fun things up its sleeve for me. My new year’s resolution is to stop taking life so seriously and try to embrace the younger, care-free version of me.”
For the latest on Georgia Harrison, follow her on Instagram @georgialouiseharrison