From modelling on high-end catwalks to presenting in Australian Jungles, Emma Willis’ career has been varied to say the least. But as we meet up with her, she talks to us about how she’s found her most challenging (and rewarding) role to date, motherhood.
Sitting down, the first question I ask Emma is how she has found her first year as a mum. When she answers I instantly warm to her discovering despite her flawless appearance and exuberant energy, she is human as she admits she hasn’t found it easy.
“It’s hard work isn’t it? It’s one of those things that everyone tries to prepare you for and you kind of think it’s just going to be like having another little friend around the house. But then you actually have one and you go wow it’s really isn’t easy.”
However, even with its challenges, it’s clear to see that Emma couldn’t be happier since becoming a mother. “It’s the most rewarding and amazing thing that you can ever have happen to you. My priorities have changed; the little things don’t matter any more. The only thing that matters to me now is my daughter, my family and my husband.”
As we talk about the changes in lifestyle the arrival of a little one causes, I ask Emma how being a mother differs to glamorous career in the limelight. Emma began her career modelling and has worked for a range of companies including as Marie Claire, ELLE, Vogue, GAP and Chanel. In 2002, she became a presenter on MTV UK, where she got to meet and interview many stars of film, TV and music. Emma’s most recent presenting roles have seen her on Five's Live from Studio Five and Big Brother spin-off show Big Brother's Little Brother.
“It’s not really that glamorous to be honest. But don’t get me wrong, I mean it’s a lovely job; I’m not knocking it at all.“
Emma goes on to tell me how she wasn’t a stranger to getting her hands dirty with children as she had a lot of practice helping look after her older sister’s two kids. “I’ve always been really hands on with them so I wasn’t nervous about nappies or anything. Matt on the other hand! ‘What if I drop it?’ I’m like you’re not going to drop it Matt.”
Emma married the ex-busted star Matt Willis in Rushton Town Hall in July 2008. She tells me how she knew that he was going to be a good father- even if he wasn’t so sure!
“He’s taken to it like a duck to water. He was really nervous because he hadn’t really been around babies before. I told him when you hold our baby it will be like you’ve held her all of your life and he did and he was brilliant. He’s great with Nappies too and we went to some antenatal classes so he got used to that kind of stuff.”
I then ask Emma who she thinks her daughter Isobel is most like, “Looks wise there’s a 50/50 mix of both of us, but her personality is quite unique. I’m still trying to figure out what she’s like, I think she’s very, I like to say inquisitive but I think a better word for it is nosey. She loves being the centre of attention. Recently, I’ve noticed she’s getting a little bit clingy because I’m going out in the day to work and then when I come home at night she doesn’t want anyone but me, which is lovely. I go Matt can you hold her a second and he goes yeah alright then and she just grabs me.”
As Emma talks about how Isobel has been craving her attention, I ask her how she has coped with the dilemma faced by all working mums, juggling a career with motherhood. “I think it is hard to leave them, especially the first few times. But I enjoy it because I had an amazing 6 months with her when I spent all day with her every day and towards the end (not to sound like I wanted to get away from her) but I did need and hour or two for my own sanity. There are only so many hours in a day you can talk in baby talk. You need to have a little bit of something for yourself, even if it’s going to yoga for an hour or a little bit of you time each day. When I’m at work Matt sends pictures and I go ooh I’m not there but you know it’s a few hours.”
Since becoming a mum, Emma has also enjoyed promoting the new JoJo Infant range. “The new JoJo toys are fantastic for little ones.”
The playful JoJo range has a whole host of toys featuring the adorable rabbit JoJo, who comes to life in front of your eyes by using clever technology to interact with your little one for a unique playing experience. Emma’s favourite toy in the range is JoJo Hide and Seek who can play realistically with your child through voice and sound effects. When JoJo is ‘seeking’. JoJo’s ears fold over and cover his eyes while he counts to 3 and waits for his playmate to find a hiding place. As JoJo calls out the games get even more special as you can record your child’s name for JoJo to call. Once he has found the hiding place, JoJo will ask for a prize of a hug (SRP £39.99)
Emma has found the toys particularly beneficial with teaching Isobel new skills. “Just having JoJo Hide and Seek around the house turning it on and letting it walk has really got her starting to move and she’s up and everywhere now. I find that so many toys are just there and static and they make sound and that’s all they do but this moves, makes noise. Especially if they’re an only child it’s nice for them to have something to play with while mummy or daddy is cooking.”
Emma has also found the JoJo phone (SRP £12.99) in the toy range useful.
“I think is brilliant because there’s nothing my daughter loves more than picking up my mobile phone and throwing it on the floor so this provides a great alternative! The buttons are animal noises, you can also record your voice on it and leave them a message so when they hit the button mummy or daddy starts to talk.”
The JoJo toys are suitable for children aged 12 months plus and range in price from £12.99 to £39.99 SRP, available at all good toy retailers.