If there's one thing that proves a fighting spirit, it's the dedication to continue working on your passion for over a decade. This is especially true when that passion involves an industry as tough as the music business. But, from a stint on The X Factor to a new radio presenting role, Fleur East's career is continuing to rise.
Friday saw the 31-year-old's debut as the co-host of Hits Radio's breakfast show. Presenting alongside Greg Burns and James Barr live from Manchester, East is bringing the warmth and energy that the nation fell in love with during her time on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
But she isn't leaving music behind, for her radio job is just another string added to the East bow. As well as waking you up every weekday morning, she's building her own fitness company and getting ready to release new music.
East has come a long way since her first appearance on The X Factor in 2005 and finalist slot in 2014's series. I caught up with her to find out what to expect from her breakfast show, what she thinks about her new Manchester home, and just how she balances it all.
Lauren Sharkey: Congratulations on your new job! How does it feel to have moved from performing to presenting?
Fleur East: Quite interesting, actually. It's been a really exciting transition because on The X Factor, I think people got to know me as a performer. And then in the jungle, people got to know me as me. So I feel like it's a natural progression.
LS: Is presenting something you've wanted to do for a long time?
FE: It's quite funny how life works. I believe strongly in timing and everything happening at the right time. I did journalism for my degree before I even went onto The X Factor. So in a weird way, it's almost like it's come back full circle — now I'm doing what I studied.
LS: So what can people expect from your radio show?
FE: It's gonna be so much fun. We have such a natural chemistry with each other. It feels like we're just a group of mates having a chat, and everyone else can join in. I think people are gonna really enjoy it.
LS: Have you taken any tips from other presenters?
FE: I've listened to so many shows over the years. I haven't really had one that I've been loyal to necessarily. But what I've loved about radio [shows is] when I'm listening and I feel like I can talk along or join the conversation. Like when I'm in my room getting ready in the morning and I can go, 'Yeah! That really does annoy me.' Or [I can] laugh along and feel like I'm in the room with them. So I want to try to emulate that. Greg [has] been doing radio for years, and James has got some experience. So I feel like I'm learning from them as well.
LS: Your show is based in Manchester. Is that going to lend a different feel to things? Do you have any favourite places to go in the city?
FE: It's definitely a different move for me in a new environment because I've always been in London. But it's been really nice. I feel a real sense of community here and everyone's been really friendly. So far, [I've just been doing] home improvement and home shopping, so I'm still getting to know the place. But Spinningfields is the cool area, everyone's been telling me.
LS: You also run your own fitness company, W8 Gym, which provides people with a portable workout kit. How is that going?
FE: So that's a family business that me and my cousins Nick and Clive started up nearly two years ago. It's the three of us running everything. We just did an exciting collaboration with Elite Island Resorts in Antigua, so they're stocking the W8 Gym in all of their rooms. We've had a lot of people backing it, a lot of press coverage, and really great reviews.
LS: You've said before that you want to dispel the myth about women who lift weights. Does society have some way to go before that happens?
FE: Yeah, especially when you're new to fitness. I was the same. Before I started going to the gym and started taking training seriously, I always thought, 'I don't wanna lift weights, because then I'm gonna look really muscly or I'm gonna look too broad.' And then I found that when I've been in the best shape is when I've been doing a lot more weight training, because I've built a lot of lean muscle. We've got a lot of strong women out there. We shouldn't underestimate what we can do.
LS: What are your top tips for people struggling to get into working out?
FE: You need to find whatever it is that motivates you. There's so many home workout things that you can do now; that's why I'm so passionate about the W8 Gym because it's something you can literally pull out from under your bed and do a full body workout wherever you are. Even the producer at Hits Radio was saying, 'You should bring one into the room.' So [during] ad breaks, we can just train with it.
LS: How do you cope with everything you do?
FE: I don't like drama. I always try to be positive. So if I've got a lot on my plate, I go, 'Let's try and get this done.' I see it as my little mission for the day rather than getting overwhelmed by it all.
LS: So where do you see your career going? Would you ever go on a reality show again?
FE: I always say, "Never say never.' But music [is] definitely still on the cards. I've got new music coming out; I filmed a video out in Morocco when I got married. I'm gonna keep putting it out because it's what I love, am gonna keep trying to progress in every area that I'm passionate about, and try and build my little empire.
Catch Fleur, Greg, and James on Hits Radio every weekday morning from 6 a.m.