Jamie Laing on Privilege and Panic Attacks: “I would say to my young self: don’t change” | Life and style


Jamie Laing disguised as a pirate in 1992 and 2021

Born in Oxfordshire in 1988, Jamie Laing is best known for his role as the main mischief maker in Made in Chelsea, the structured reality series he left this year after 209 episodes. It was appearances in Murder in Successville, Celebrity Hunted and Bake Off that brought his puppy enthusiasm and later dance skills to a wider audience, when he became a Strictly Come Dancing finalist in 2020. Along with His television career, Laing founded a successful vegan candy brand. Candy kittens and Podcast Private Parties. Living in London with his partner and Made in Chelsea alumnus Sophie Habboo, he hosts the new BBC dating show Three I Like the Way U Move and has just published his memoir, I can explain.

I loved adventures when I was a child, So it’s no wonder that I’ve always wanted to disguise myself as a pirate. It’s me, four years old, in 1992. It was Halloween and our nanny, Julie, created this fantastic costume. Once she made us Flower Pot Men outfits. They were amazing.

I lived in a village called Castle Eaton, in a large country house with my mom, dad, older brother, younger sister, and two half-sisters. There was always a lot of noise – to this day I can’t sleep unless there is a background hum – and I had a lot of freedom. I once stole a jar of mayonnaise and buried it in the mud on the farm. Two days later my brother dug it up. It stank, but we intended to heal the trees with it. So we started spreading it out on those we thought were sick. It was disgusting.

People have this idea that I grew up with millions, but it wasn’t. My great-great-grandfather, Alexander Grant, invented McVitie’s digestive biscuit. It was a family business and its fortune was distributed to many cousins; we sold our shares to the company many years ago. My dad inherited a good sum, but it wasn’t like we had private jets everywhere. We had the occasional ski vacation and I would be lucky if I had a tennis racket for my birthday. Yet I was incredibly privileged.

When I was eight, my life changed dramatically when my parents divorced. I knew about divorce because my father had been married before and I had spent my childhood fearful of it. Dad bought mom a house in London after they split. It sounds ridiculous, but when my mom kicked me out and said, “This is it,” I assumed these were the three townhouses on the road she was talking about. She explained that it was just the one, with three bedrooms. I remember thinking, “Wait, what ?!”

Around the same time as my parents’ divorce, I was sent to boarding school, where you learn to hold back your emotions. You cannot cry because you are surrounded by people all the time; if you do, you are weak. I had to make new friends quickly: I slept in a dormitory with 15 boys, many of them billionaires. I managed to stay quite popular – probably because I played sports. If you do this, you are safe. But I was aware of being cool. I used to buy concealer to cover my spots. It seems a modern thing in retrospect, but at 13, in 2001, not so much.

I had a loving family, but I didn’t like change; bouncing back from my mom to my dad and boarding school has thrown me off balance. I asked my mom the other day why I was going to summer camp when I got back for school vacation. I said, “You sent me to these places because you couldn’t bother to take care of me?” Is that correct? ”She said,“ Yeah! ”I laughed. Fair enough. At least she admitted it.

When I was 21, my friends Spencer (Matthews) and Caggie (Dunlop) signed up for Made in Chelsea. My first reaction was: “Idiots! What are you doing? “I was clearly furiously jealous – since I was a kid all I wanted to do was entertain. Then I was asked to do the second series. I was working in one. wealth management fund after I graduated in acting and acting from Leeds University, and I remember thinking I didn’t want to do this job. With reality TV, there was neither longevity and security, but the prospect was much more exciting, plus I had an idea for a nice company, so I thought I could use the show to talk about it.

I loved being on Made in Chelsea, but fame is fickle and you quickly learn that you’re not for everyone. I was at the Latitude festival when a group of girls, they must have been 16, were screaming, “Jamie, Jamie! I joked with my friend, “Sorry about that, I’m really famous.” I turned to them and said, “Hey girls! They replied, “You are a cat.”

The show gave me a distorted perception of reality. You are constantly fighting, bitching, supporting someone, or defending yourself. You can’t walk into a scene saying, “I had a great vacation. It’s boring. After 10 years, it crushes you. By the time you think: this will make great TV. Then the camera stops but you continue – trying to be loud and outgoing. That’s why a lot of reality stars take on a character. When you step back, you think: I made bad mistakes. I hurt my friends.

Intensity happened to me. One day when I was at home watching TV, I had blurry vision and my heart started to beat fast. I went to the hospital because I thought I was dying. The doctor sent me home explaining that it was a panic attack. I then started to panic about the endless panic, and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. But I didn’t tell anyone. I was afraid my career would disappear; I thought I would never have a real job because I had been on reality TV and was unemployable. In the end, I told my mom; she took me to a therapist. Being open was the road to recovery. I feel a lot better now that I have accepted who I am. When you’re young, you’re desperately trying to fit in. In my twenties, I even shaved the sides of my head and tried to get into techno. But as you grow up you are more comfortable. Finally I said to myself: “It’s good. This is who I am. I feel anxious, but it’s okay. When you accept it, you can begin to heal.

People assumed I begin my sweet company with family money. It wasn’t true, and it was frustrating for my business partner and everyone who works there. They built it from scratch. A bag of our candies is sold every 12 seconds.

My mother always asks me: when are you going to find a real job? But that doesn’t bother me. I feel so lucky. I have to thank one of the Made in Chelsea producers for my latest job, hosting I Like the Way U Move. When the original host gave up at the last minute, she suggested that I replace them. I imagine the conversation went, “Who is this guy who would literally do anything?” Let’s go get it! “

My mom never watched anything I’ve been in – other than Strictly, because all of her friends were – but she called me the other day very angry because two contestants had been sent home. She invests in it, which is a huge thing for me.

If I had to talk to this little pirate now, I would tell him: don’t change. Maybe don’t spread mayonnaise on the trees, but go ahead and have fun. Be naughty. Live an adventure.

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